Importance of Timely Treatment In A Personal Injury Case
When you wait too long to seek medical treatment, you are not injured—at least not in the eyes of the insurance company. The natural thing to do is to try to tough it out and not seek treatment. That is what I would do, and that is what you might probably do, too. But that is exactly the wrong thing to do because then there is no documentation that you were ever injured. The insurance company will use this against you. If you do not seek treatment for weeks because you are trying to tough it out or because you do not have health insurance, then the argument against you later on is that you could not be seriously injured, because if you were then you would not have waited for weeks to see somebody.
That is exactly what the insurance company will say to a jury at a trial. They will stand up and say, “Mr. Balke says this is such a serious injury; however, it couldn’t be serious because the person waited three weeks to get in to see a doctor.”
Why Is It Critical To Make It To Every Doctor’s Appointment?
Every medical appointment is critical. Perfect attendance shows that you are trying your darnedest to get better and that you are working as hard as you can. When you have a physical therapy appointment and you miss it, it will be reported. So if you made it to eleven out of twelve appointments that is all well and good, but not quite as good as twelve out of twelve visits. When jurors see someone who keeps missing appointments, they do not feel like the injury is very serious. If you are not going to take it seriously, believe me, they will not either. Juries will allow a zero-dollar verdict anytime they sense a person isn’t trying. Today, more than ever jurors are skeptical about people asking for money.
In my experience in rural areas like Crystal Lake and McHenry County, the insurance company attorney will ask jurors to give you a zero-dollar award if you are indicating that your claim is not serious by missing appointments. Allstate, State Farm, and other insurance companies have followed the suggestions of McKinsey & Company, and thus know very well that by taking people to trial, the plaintiff is more likely to make a mistake by not going to all of their scheduled treatments or missing legal appointments. Jury statistics have shown that in pretty much all geographic areas, about fifty percent of plaintiffs will not get even a single dollar awarded by a jury because of mistakes plaintiffs made throughout the process.
How Does A Gap In Medical Care Impact A Personal Injury Claim?
As discussed earlier, a gap in care is created anytime you did not follow-up with treatment for your injuries. Therefore, if you do not take advantage of the ambulance, you already made a gap in care. Maybe your spouse drives you directly to the hospital an hour later, but that still shows a gap of an hour in your care. The insurance company attorneys will use that to show there is something wrong with you or something wrong with your claim. They might ask, “Mr. Jones, you were in an accident at nine o’clock in the morning, correct?” “Yes,” you answer. “But the hospital records say that you didn’t get to the hospital until noon, isn’t that correct?” “Oh, yes,” you answer. “But you had the opportunity to take an ambulance, didn’t you, Mr. Jones? You refused to take the ambulance, isn’t that correct?”
Mr. Jones has to say “yes.” In addition, Mr. Jones cannot say he refused the ambulance because he did not have health insurance at that time. That type of statement is not allowed in court, which will be discussed more in-depth in the next chapter.
Should You Pay Medical Bills As They Come In?
It might be a good idea to pay some of the medical bills in piecemeal fashion, just to keep it off your credit report. Many people will say to me, “I just want to keep this off of my credit report, so I’m paying $10 a month while we are trying to get the case resolved.” The hospitals are even more willing to wait to be paid if you retained an attorney. If you have an attorney, the hospitals and the doctors know that your chance of getting money for them is much better than if you were unrepresented. They show that they are more likely to wait for payment by putting what is called a lien on the case. A lien is just a fancy way of saying, “We’re on your side against the other driver (and that driver’s insurance company), so we will wait to get paid at the end.”
Let me repeat: if you have an attorney, then the hospitals and the doctors are going to be much more willing to wait than not. If you do not, then they are not, because they ran the numbers and know that your chance of being compensated for your injury is much lower without an attorney.
One other thing worth mentioning now is that I also do my best to reduce your medical bills at the end of the case. This item will be discussed more in-depth later.
For more information on Importance Of Medical Treatment, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (815) 495-5598 today.
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