If you have been injured in an accident that was not your fault, what you do next will count either for you or against you if you pursue a claim for injuries.
In this situation, there are two main issues. The first is your health and well being. If you are injured you should be evaluated by a doctor. This is true whether or not you intend to make any claim for injuries against the responsible party. An immediate or early medical evaluation can provide relief from pain, support for your concerns about the nature and extent of your injuries, and it can prevent worse pain or injury down the road. The second issue is, if you do ultimately make a claim for your injuries, whether you saw a doctor soon after the accident or not will be considered by the other side and used against you to the extent possible.
Here’s an example: Lets say you were injured and you decide to tough it out and not see a doctor. You care for yourself. Care for your wounds. Take some over the counter medications or perhaps some meds a family member has at home. You take it easy for days, weeks or sometimes months. You figure this will get better on its own. After all, every time you have been hurt in the past, it always got better. You didn’t rush out to see doctors for previous injuries from playing casual sports, working around the house, or minor trips or falls. But this time its different. The pain is not going away. Perhaps it gets worse over time until you finally decide to see a doctor and get some medical attention. Do you think that an insurance company, a business or a governmental entity that is responsible for your injuries is going to give you credit and respect for being a brave soul and delaying getting medical care or trying to get better on your own? THEY WILL NOT. The reality is that your claim that you were injured will be subject to increased suspicion because of the delay. If you did not see a doctor when you were first injured, it will be considered to be proof that you were not injured. Your attempts to treat your own injuries will be completely disregarded. Your delay in obtaining any meaningul medical care will be seen as a delayed attempt to create an injury claim where none actually does or should exist.
Why would an honest and reasonable person who earnestly tries to do the right thing be penalized? Because from the defense point of view, it is not about making things right or doing the what is best for you. It is all about seizing any and every opportunity to pay less, minimize your claim, avoid financial responsibility, and make it harder and more expensive for you to be fairly compensated for your injuries. Hear me now and believe me later on this if you wish, but this is a truth that has been proven consistently over and over again. The failure to obtain proof of your injuries by seeing a doctor in a timely manner is the cause of countless denials of legitimate and truthful claims. No matter how well intended you are, this will be used against you if you make a claim for bodily injuries. An insurance company, or any defendant, will count the days between the accident and your first medical visit. They will count the days between visits, looking for “gaps” in medical care. They will say delays, gaps in care, or failure to follow through with a doctor’s recommendations demonstrate that you either were not injured or your injuries are less serious or significant than you or your doctors say they are.
So, if you have been injured in an accident, what do you do? See your doctor. Go to an urgent care clinic. Go the the emergency room. But do something to get your injury checked out.
What should you NOT do first? See a lawyer. If you were injured and think you may need a lawyer, see him or her SECOND. There is little that can taint an injury claim worse than having records show that an injured person rushed to see a lawyer before seeing a doctor. Don’t make that mistake.
John P. Rosenberg has been representing clients
who have suffered serious personal injuries and
accidents for...Read More