If you were injured in an accident, it's a mistake to avoid or delay medical treatment hoping the pain and injury will resolve on its own. It's critically important to immediately seek medical treatment, particularly if you plan on pursuing a personal injury case. You're not only risking your health but also the value of your legal claim.
Seeing Doctor After An Accident Protects Your Health
Even though you may not feel any symptoms immediately after an accident, that doesn't always mean you weren't hurt. Right after an accident, the human body starts producing chemicals, endorphins and adrenaline to help cope with any injuries. This is the body's common response to trauma and often masks underlying injuries. As time passes, injuries may show up and begin causing pain and potentially other medical issues. Concussions and internal injuries left alone can potentially lead to other serious and dangerous complications.
By seeking medical treatment immediately, you can potentially avoid:
- A longer recovery time
- The injury getting worse
- More chance of re-injury
- Delay in finding medical specialists to help
- More serious medical complications
Following an accident, don't avoid or delay medical treatment. Even if you're experiencing little or no pain, you may have suffered a more serious injury. Go to an emergency room or urgent care immediately and report all your symptoms, no matter how minor. A healthcare professional will evaluate the extent of your injuries.
Should I Go To My Follow-up Appointments?
Once you've been evaluated by a doctor and your injuries have been identified, it's just as important to follow the prescribed treatment plan. Your treating doctor wants you to recover from your injuries. As such, you should fill any prescriptions, participate in physical therapy sessions and take the necessary time off from work or school as directed. You may start to feel better after some initial treatment, but follow all your doctor's orders and treatment recommendations until you've been released. This will ensure your best chance for a full recovery.
Seeing Doctor After An Accident Protects the Value of Your Legal Claim
Should you decide to seek compensation for your injuries following an accident, avoiding or delaying initial medical treatment, and failing to continue with the prescribed treatment plan, can substantially impact the value of your legal claim. At Hernandez Redden Sunosky, LLP, our ex-insurance defense lawyers have handled thousands of personal injury claims and know a common defense tactic used by the insurance companies is to argue the victim was not injured to the extent they claimed to be. Many people are unaware but medical records are actually evidence in a personal injury claim.
Medical records establish:
- A contemporaneous record
- Nature and scope of your injury
- Duration of your medical treatment
- A connection between your injuries and the accident
- Your future medical treatment needs as a result of the accident
- Documentation of your pain and suffering
- Amount of your medical bills
As such, the primary ammunition used by insurance companies against the injured victim was their own medical records. Arguments such as lack of injury complaints, delay in treatment, and time gaps in treatment were often used to justify underpaying a personal injury claim. Since medical records can be used against you, it's important to seek, receive and continue to receive medical treatment following an accident.
What Should I Do To Protect My Personal Injury Claim After An Accident?
Seek immediate medical treatment - In addition to protecting your health by identifying any potential delayed injuries early, seeking immediate medical treatment after an accident establishes a clear record of your injury and the necessary treatment plan. It'll make your personal injury claim much stronger.
Report how you were injured – It's important to report to the healthcare provider that you were involved in an accident. For example, if it was a slip and fall accident, provide specifics, such as “I stepped in a pothole at the grocery store parking lot today.” Your healthcare provider will need to understand how you were injured and document it in the medical records accordingly. The medical records will be an important piece of evidence in your personal injury claim.
Report all your injury complaints - When reporting your injuries, be specific and comprehensive. Don't minimize your pain complaints or location of injury. This isn't the time to be tough and believe the pain will resolve on its own. If you feel any symptoms, no matter now minor, report it to your doctor. Remember, your objective is to receive the necessary medical treatment to get better. Also, since your medical records will be used against you in a personal injury claim, you want a contemporaneous record of your injury complaints.
Complete the prescribed treatment plan - Failing to follow the treatment plan as prescribed can adversely affect your personal injury claim. For example, if your doctor prescribed physical therapy 3 times a week for 4 weeks and you fail to follow the treatment plan by not showing up to appointments or stopping the treatment plan two weeks early, the insurance company may argue you aren't as hurt as you claim to be. Also, they may argue you failed to lessen your damages by not following your doctor's recommendations.
Avoid any time gaps in your treatment - If your doctor recommends a treatment plan, follow it exactly. Any delays or time gaps in medical treatment can give an insurance company the opportunity to argue the injury was related to something other than your accident. Don't give them the ammunition.
Hernandez Redden Sunosky, LLP fights for injury victims
If you're worried about the cost of seeing a doctor, contact Hernandez Redden Sunosky, LLP and our Houston, TX Personal Injury lawyers can find you a doctor who will agree to see you for no up-front out-of-pocket costs.