How a Gap in Your Medical Treatment Could Affect Your Claim for Compensation
Car insurance companies are always looking for a reason to deny a claim for compensation or offer much less compensation than the victim may be eligible to receive. That is why it is important for victims to take steps to protect the value of their claim.
One step that is arguably more important than the others is establishing a record of consistent treatment of your injuries. That means getting to the doctor soon after the crash and attending all follow-up appointments. In addition to documenting your claim, it is important to have consistent treatment to get back to your pre-crash health.
If you wait too long after the crash to seek treatment, or you skip appointments, the insurance company will argue your injuries are not that severe. They may also try to deny your claim, saying your injuries are not connected to the accident.
Below, our experienced Bloomington-based auto accident attorneys discuss the problems with gaps in medical treatment and what injury victims can do to help protect their claims.
Two Types of Gaps in Medical Treatment
The first type of gap that might affect your claim for compensation is a gap between the time of the crash and when you first saw a doctor to treat your injuries.
A gap of a couple of hours is not all that unusual. Unless you were transported from the scene in an ambulance, you might be there a couple of hours while police investigate the scene and complete their report. If you went directly from the scene of the crash to the hospital, it would be very difficult for the insurance company to claim you waited to seek treatment.
However, if you waited until the next day or even longer to seek treatment, the insurance company will start to investigate if you were injured because of something besides the crash. They may say you were involved in some other type of accident, and this was the cause of your injuries, not the crash. A timelapse of a week or longer to seek initial care could damage the causation between crash and treatment. This claim may not hold up if your attorney challenges the insurance company on it, but this issue could make your claim more difficult than it needs to be.
Even if you think your injuries are not that serious, it is better to be cautious and see a doctor right away. If you are wrong, you may be glad you did because your medical records will help link your injuries to the crash. Even if you are right that your injuries are not that serious, you will know you have a doctor’s opinion backing up your own.
The other type of gap in medical treatment occurs when an injury victim skips an appointment or stops his or her treatment. The victim’s medical records show treatment stopped, which makes them assume the victim is fully healed or has reached the point of maximum medical improvement.
It is important to note there are legitimate reasons for missing doctor appointments. Maybe you could not get PTO at work or could not find a ride to the doctor because your car is still being repaired or you went out of town to help an elderly parent. Life happens, and this should not prevent you from recovering compensation. However, it is important to keep your attorney informed about missed appointments and why you missed them. More important than that is to reschedule appointments and continue your treatment. Taking steps like these helps to show the insurance company you are taking the situation seriously. Missing some appoints for real life reasons is allowed, but there is a limit to “excuses” that cause a lack of medical treatment.
Keep in mind your lawyer may be able to recover compensation for lost wages. If you are concerned about missing work to attend an appointment because you will lose wages, you can include lost wages in your claim. Minnesota No-Fault covers up to $500.00 a week tax-free, and other lost wages can be part of the injury settlement. You may also have short- and long-term disability policies that help cushion lost wages while recovering. While missing work can be bad in the short term, in the long run, missing work to get treatment can help your claim.
What if I Disagree with a Recommended Treatment?
These things can happen, and you are not required to go through with a type of treatment simply because you are trying to recover compensation for your damages. Your first concern with your treatment is doing what you think is in your best interests after discussing things with your family and your doctor. Your health recovery is most important, and you need to feel comfortable and have confidence in the treatment plan.
If you are unsure about a recommended treatment, you can research it, discuss it with your doctor, talk to your family, and even seek another opinion about your treatment. Keep your attorney informed so he or she will be prepared if the insurance company tries to use this against you.
You should not make decisions about your treatment based on how you think a particular treatment may affect the value of your claim. For example, a related surgery may increase the value of your legal claim but should only be considered if as a human it would help your pain. You need to make the best decision for you as a person first, then we can deal with the legal side.
Following Your Doctor’s Orders
While continuing your medical treatment is vital to the success of your claim, so is following the doctor’s orders between appointments. If the doctor tells you to avoid certain activities or to limit physical activity, make sure to follow his or her orders.
Disobeying your doctor’s orders could cause your injuries to worsen and could give the insurance company reason to think you are exaggerating your injuries. Disobeying doctor’s orders can be particularly bad if you post pictures to social media of you engaging in physical activity that makes it look like you are not injured.
Give Us a Call to Discuss Your Car Crash Claim
We have been helping car accident victims recover compensation for their damages for more than 20 years. We have been able to secure settlements from numerous insurance companies and are also prepared to go to court when necessary.
We understand this is a difficult time for you and your family and that is why there are no upfront fees for our services. We want you to know there is no financial risk in meeting with us or having us handle your case. We do not get paid unless you receive compensation.
Give us a call today to learn more. (612) TSR-TIME