After a car accident, victims with devastating injuries are rushed to the nearest hospital in an ambulance, while victims without visible or immediately detectable injuries are left to decide whether they need medical attention. Unfortunately, many such accident victims make the mistake of delaying medical evaluation, refusing to complete the prescribed treatment, or failing to follow up with their doctor after a crash.
Oftentimes, a delay or gap in medical care is due to an accident victim's busy work schedule, a hope that any potential problems will resolve themselves, a denial that anything's actually wrong, or financial concerns, such as a lack of health insurance coverage. Sadly, regardless of the reasons for delaying medical care, failing to follow the doctor's orders, or not showing up for follow-up visits or treatments, doing so can jeopardize an accident victim's ability to recover a full measure of damages required to compensate for the injuries.
Don't Trust Insurance Companies to Do the Right Thing
Whether it is the victim's own insurance company or the opposing party's liability insurance company, simply trusting that the insurance company, through its adjusters, will do the right thing and handle the claim fairly is a huge mistake. Accident victims shouldn't consider insurance companies—or their adjusters—friends or allies. Insurance companies are not in the business of giving money away. Like most businesses, an adjuster's ultimate loyalty is to the company's bottom line, not to the payment of all damages to an injured person. Additionally, each adjuster has his or her own biases and motivations to evaluate a claim for a lower value than it is really worth. In most instances, in a third party liability claim, an accident victim's best interests is not a priority and often not even a factor in the insurance company's decision.
Insurance companies often deploy a number of shady—but legal—tactics in an effort to reduce their financial obligation to accident victims. Sadly, delays or gaps in medical care are used by insurance companies to instill doubt in the claim of injury or the extent of the injury. Insurance companies will do all they can to discredit an accident victim's injury claims.
The Importance of Seeking Immediate Medical Care
Seeking a medical evaluation immediately after a car accident is absolutely vital, even if the victim doesn't think they're seriously injured—or even injured at all. Doctors, especially those who frequently treat car accident victims, are trained to spot injuries that the victim might not notice, such as those masked by the release of adrenaline during the crash.
Also, receiving a thorough medical evaluation after a car accident starts the documentation of evidence that may end up playing a central role in a future personal injury insurance claim or lawsuit. Victims who initially thought that they weren't injured or that their injuries weren't “that bad” may have late-appearing injuries or injuries that worsen with time. Without medical documentation connecting these injuries to the accident, the other party's insurance company or defense attorney may claim that they are completely unrelated to the crash or made up after the fact.
Follow-Up Medical Care After a Car Accident Is Crucial
There are a number of reasons why follow-up medical care is so important after a car accident:
- Not all car accident injuries are immediately detectable—some may be masked by the rush of adrenaline, while the effects of other injuries may over power other injuries which are not so noticeable, even other injuries are only detectable when the injury victim attempts to resume his or her normal activities days later. Following up with a treating physician or a primary care doctor can help accident victims ensure serious injuries aren't overlooked, and that late-appearing injuries are documented as being related to the accident.
- Waiting too long to have a medical evaluation or failing to follow up with the doctor can damage an accident victim's case. The more time between that passes between an accident and timing of the treatment for the alleged injuries, the greater the doubt will be in the seriousness of the injuries and the connection between the collision and the injuries. If an accident victim develops accident-related injuries and that individual does not treat those injuries in a timely manner, the victim loses the ability to have a third party document the injuries, loses the ability to argue the seriousness of the injury and increases the likelihood that the insurance company or defense lawyer will claim that those injuries were caused by something other than the accident.
- Seeking an immediate medical evaluation, adhering to the prescribed treatment plan and following up with the doctor shows that the accident victim is doing their part to recover from their injuries.
- Nearly all accident victims who secure early and consistent care recover from their injuries at a much more rapid pace than those who hope they will get better.
- Fewer long term side effects or consequences result from the injuries when early and consistent treatment is sought.
Consult an Experienced California Car Accident Lawyer
If you were seriously injured in a car accident caused by another person or entity's negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Seeking prompt medical attention and following up with your doctor can help you build a strong case. Do you have questions about your car accident case? Contact the Inland Empire Law Group today at (909) 481-0100 or toll free at (888) 694-3529 to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.