Nobody likes going to the doctor, and nobody wants to look like a complainer. So, many people sit at home and suffer, hoping their injuries will improve. Eventually, when their pain does not go away, they decide to file an injury claim. Omitting needed medical treatment is never a good idea, but it is particularly harmful if you have an injury case. Insurance adjusters (and juries) are required to determine if you were truly injured, and if so, how much money it would take to fairly compensate you. If you do not go to the doctor, then fair or not, the adjuster will assume that you were not hurt. You are not going to get much of a settlement if you tell the adjuster: “Well, I was really hurt, but not badly enough to go to the doctor.”
Delaying medical treatment is almost as foolish. For example, suppose you suffer a lumbar sprain (lower back injury) in a car wreck and you hobble around for 8 weeks taking ibuprofen and doing light duty at work. Then, when your back does not get better, you go to the doctor and start getting therapy. Eight weeks is way too long! The insurance company will pounce if you let this happen. The adjuster will call this a “gap in treatment” and will argue that your injuries must have been caused by a fall at home or an incident at work. He will suggest that you would have sought medical treatment immediately if your injuries were caused by the car wreck, and he will try to kill the whole case using this logic. Unfortunately, sometimes this argument works.
Finally, many adjusters actually measure the amount of pain and suffering damages by the dollar amount of your medical bills. The argument is simple: If the bills are large, then the injury must have been more serious. In the real world, the dollar amount of your total medical bills has little to do with the amount of your pain and suffering (except to your bank account). However, this is a common practice with many insurance companies. Generally speaking, the larger the medical bills, the larger the compensation for pain and suffering.
For all of these reasons, you should go the emergency room if you believe that you have been injured in an accident. Go to your doctor if you are in pain. If you need physical therapy or chiropractic care, go get the treatment. It is good for your health, and it is good for your case.
Sometimes, a “gap in treatment” occurs because it takes so long to get an appointment with some doctors. Unless you are experiencing a true emergency, some doctors make you wait a month or even longer. Even worse, many doctors simply will not treat a person who has been injured in a car wreck. They do not want to bother with giving statements or depositions to help their patients, so they instruct their receptionist turn patients away if the injuries were caused by a car wreck. When the injured victims finally learns that their own doctor won’t see them, they don’t know where to turn, and their treatment gets delayed. Do not let this happen to you. If you are having a hard time getting into your doctor, you should try to impress upon the scheduling clerk that you simply must be seen earlier. If you don’t know where to go, a good lawyer can also help. At the Packard law Firm, we have made arrangements with qualified doctors who have agreed to see patients on an expedited basis – frequently on one day’s notice.
Finally, there is a large group of good people who want to get medical care after an accident but cannot afford it. Many do not have health insurance; others may have some form of health insurance, but the co-pays are too expensive or their plans do not include the kinds of doctors and therapists they need. If you find yourself in this situation, we can help. There are a number of qualified specialists who will take your case on a differed payment basis as long as we send a letter promising to pay the medical bills out of the settlement proceeds. In this way, you will be able to get qualified medical care even though you do not have health insurance and do not have money.
In summary, omitting or delaying medical care will ruin a personal injury case, and it is a mistake that is totally preventable. If you need help getting medical care, give us a call and we can help you find a qualified and compassionate medical professional who will provide the care you need on a deferred payment basis.