You were involved in an accident. What should you do? You don’t appear to be injured? Should you go to a doctor to get checked out?
Even if it doesn’t “seem” like you’re hurt, waiting to see a doctor is never a good idea. Most professionals (medical, legal, and insurance) advise that you get checked out medically within three days of your accident. Why 72 hours? There are several reasons, all of them very sound.
Some accident victims who don’t “feel” like they’re hurt will postpone medical care. Usually, it’s because they’re more concerned about the potential costs, especially if they think they’re not injured enough to warrant medical treatment. “It’ll clear up by itself,” they think, as they go on about their business.
But this may be a very costly mistake. Serious injuries – especially muscle, soft tissue, and closed brain injuries – can often present no immediate symptoms. Then a few days, or a week, month, or longer down the road when that silent injury manifests, your insurance provider – or that of the other driver or the premises owner – will likely deny any personal injury claims just because there is no medical documentation directly linking them to your accident.
INSURANCE COMPANIES FOLLOW THE 72-HOUR RULE
Insurance companies now rely on software to assist their adjusters when evaluating claims. After feeding data into the program, it – not the adjuster – generates a financial “value” for your claim. One of the first pieces of data the insurance company feeds into their software is whether or not you saw a doctor within 72 hours of your accident.” This is a “value driver.” And though there may be other factor that are considered in determining the value of your claim, how quickly you saw a doctor is essential to the insurance company’s assessment of your claim. If you didn’t see one, it could be a deal-breaker for your claim.
If you have a family doctor, osteopath, or chiropractor, call their office at your first opportunity. If you have an ongoing relationship, they’ll find a way to work you in quickly because the staff knows the 72-hour rule. Get evaluated as soon as you can, to protect yourself and your compensation rights.
THE INJURY MIGHT GET WORSE, THEN TREATMENT CAN GET REALLY EXPENSIVE
If you have a back, head, neck, or another injury, it might worsen so considerably that treatment costs can sky rocket out of proportion to what it would have cost had you seen a doctor immediately after the accident. If, for example, you have an internal injury, immediate treatment increases your chances of survival. And the doctor visit is on the record, which strengthens your potential injury claim.
YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY WANTS THE SAME DOCUMENTATION IF YOU FILE A CLAIM ON YOUR POLICY
If you don’t see a doctor, your own insurer may resist your claim just as ferociously when you try to file using your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage if you were involved in a motor vehicle accident. If you file on your PIP, it doesn’t matter who is at fault for the accident. Your insurance company should honor its duty per the terms and to the limits of your policy.
MANY PERSONAL INJURY LAWYERS WON’T TAKE YOUR CASE IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN A DOCTOR
Let’s say you wait a month after the accident, didn’t see a doctor, and now are suffering from injuries in an accident caused by another negligent person or entity. With no medical documentation to back up your claim after so long a wait, some personal injury lawyers might not take your case. Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis. They bear all of the costs (and risk) of managing your claim while you pay nothing. But they get paid only when (or if) your claim pays off. If someone approached you with a questionable claim, would you take the case?
Be smart. If you have been involved in an accident caused by someone else, see a doctor. Your health is too important to put off because it “seems” you’re okay enough or adjusting your busy schedule is too much of a hassle.
Time is of the essence. The lawyers at The Law Offices of Effie Soter, P.C. offer free initial consultations to discuss your rights. Call an attorney at 646-504-7384 or via e-mail to learn more about your rights so that we can obtain the best outcome for you.