If you're fortunate enough to make it out of a car accident without being taken to the nearest emergency room, you may be tempted to go straight home and try to put the incident behind you. You may hope that if you get a good night’s sleep, you will feel better the next day. However, injuries caused by an accident may not be immediately apparent, and delaying or failing to get the proper medical treatment may make it more difficult for you to receive compensation for those injuries in the future. Seeking and receiving treatment in a timely fashion, and from a trusted medical professional, is absolutely essential to your physical health, as well as the health of your legal claim.
Get Checked Out As Soon as Possible after a Car Accident
When a person is involved in a car accident, the body responds to the physical trauma with a rush of pain-masking endorphins and adrenaline. This means you may walk away from an accident feeling that you have merely been “shaken up,” only to be in pain hours later or the following morning.
Brushing off less serious symptoms with the hope that they'll resolve themselves is a bad idea because it allows too much time to elapse and invites the insurance company to claim that the injury was the result of an unrelated event that occurred after the accident and before you filed a claim. Documenting your injuries immediately—and with the help of a knowledgeable medical professional—gives you the best chance of recovery, both physically and financially.
When You Seek Treatment and Who You See Matters
If you weren't transported to an emergency room following the crash, you may think your injuries were minor or that you weren’t injured at all. This is a critical mistake some accident victims make that can damage a personal injury case. It’s never a good idea to delay seeking medical treatment or making an appointment to be checked out. In a personal injury case, juries and insurance adjusters are determining the extent of your injuries and how to fairly compensate you for them. If you choose not to see a doctor, it may appear that you weren’t really hurt, and this can negatively affect your settlement.
Here Are a Few Tips to Keep in Mind When Seeking Medical Treatment:
- Explain that time is critical. If you make an appointment with your own physician or a general practitioner, tell the scheduler that you want to be seen to document injuries sustained in a car accident. This may expedite the process. Any time lost waiting a day or two to see a doctor may weaken your claim.
- Talk to an attorney. If you can’t get in to see your doctor right away, contact a personal injury attorney who is experienced handling car accident claims. He may be able to put you in contact with a known and trustworthy doctor who can see you quickly and report your injuries accurately.
- Get help if you’re uninsured. Getting the appropriate medical care can also be difficult if you’re uninsured or underinsured. Again, a personal injury attorney may be able to help and can often make arrangements with doctors who agree to see patients right away, but will wait to collect payment until the patient receives a settlement.
You might not think the doctor you see after a car accident matters, but it does. It’s important to choose your doctor carefully and to avoid an “independent” physician who can do damage to your claim. Independent physicians are selected and paid by the insurance company and may minimize your injuries in their report to the insurance company. This can result in a settlement that's less than fair. As an accident victim, you may be wise not to participate in “independent” medical examinations offered by the insurance company, unless instructed to do so by your legal counsel.
An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Can Help Negotiate the Amount You Owe
If you have private health insurance to cover your medical expenses, it’s likely a “secondary” payer. This means if you file a lawsuit and eventually recover damages for your injuries, the healthcare insurance company will expect to be reimbursed for the medical bills it’s paid on your behalf. This is a process known as subrogation that can leave you without the necessary funds to pay future medical bills, your lawyer fee, as well as supplement your income for any lost wages.
However, an attorney can sometimes reduce or eliminate the financial impact of subrogation by negotiating with the insurance company before you settle your case. Be careful taking the advice of your health insurance company on the subrogation issues. They almost always claim you owe them everything they paid out of your settlement. But many times, you do not owe them the full amount, and sometimes you owe nothing. An experienced lawyer can help you with this and will know the ins and outs of what you really owe in subrogation to your health insurance company.
But what if you don’t have any health insurance? Do you owe the entire medical bill out of the settlement? Probably not, but if you don’t want to get sent to collections, you should negotiate with the doctors and hospitals to reduce the amount you owe in medical bills.
Don't Leave Your Future to Chance. Call the Packard Law Firm Today for a Free Consultation
Do you need legal advice after a car accident? With insurance companies seeking to reduce their bottom line, it's important not to leave your car accident claim to chance. The experienced and knowledgeable personal injury attorneys at Packard Law Firm may be able to help you secure much needed compensation for your injuries. Call us at 855-464-7599 to schedule a consultation, or contact us through our website to request a copy of our free eBook, 20 Mistakes That Can Ruin Your Car Wreck Case.