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What is the 'discovery of harm' rule?

When considering time limits, personal injury, and the statute of limitations in Indiana, it's important to consider the "discovery of harm" rule. This could play a very big role in a medical malpractice case, depending on the circumstances.

Generally speaking, this rule just says that the statute of limitations countdown may not begin right away. Instead, it starts when you find out that you've been injured. This may not always be clear instantly.

For example, if a doctor accidentally leaves something inside of you after surgery--a surprisingly common mistake--you're probably not going to know when you get home. You may think that the pain and discomfort you're feeling is just part of the healing process. Even after you heal, you may not know that the issues you're having are related to the foreign object. After all, you never expected it to be there in the first place, having trusted the doctor to do a good job.

In Indiana, the statute of limitations for many cases is just two years. However, it could be a year or more before you even realize what is causing the problem. You may go to a different doctor and find out about the mistakes. If it's been 18 months since the object was left in your body by the time you even know for sure that it's there, it wouldn't be fair to give you just six more months. Therefore, the countdown could begin at the time you discover the mistake, not the day the surgery was done.

Every case is different, so it's crucial for you to know if this rule will apply in your case and when you need to start your lawsuit.

Source: Find Law, "Time Limits to Bring a Case: The "Statute of Limitations"," accessed April 27, 2016

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