Decisions about medical care are very personal. And, every situation is different. Still, it is generally in your best interests to accept medical assessment and treatment at the scene of a motor vehicle accident.
The most obvious reason, of course, is that it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health. Often, people are not sure whether or how seriously they have been injured in an automobile accident. Sometimes, this happens because an injury is minor, but is aggravated with movement or overtime. Other times, the shock and disorientation that accompanies a traumatic event can mask an injury.
Unfortunately, overlooking an injury can be dangerous. By the time symptoms become more severe or the initial shock wears off, an injury may have worsened. This may mean more pain, a more extended recovery, or the need for additional medical care. In some cases, delayed diagnosis and treatment can even turn an injury that could have been treated easily into one that causes long-term symptoms and limitations.
So, while you can refuse medical assessment or treatment at the scene, it is generally in your best interest to take advantage of the opportunity to make sure it is safe for you to go about your business after the accident. Of course, your quick and full recovery is top priority. But, your health is not the only reason you may want to get assessed at the scene and treated as soon as possible after the accident.
Medical Treatment in Personal Injury Claims
Prompt diagnosis and medical care supports your physical recovery after a motor vehicle accident or other injury. But, there is another advantage to being responsible about your medical care after an injury. Medical assessment at the scene can help demonstrate that the accident was the cause of your injury. So will records from other medical professionals immediately or shortly after the accident, such as hospital emergency room records.
If you are not assessed at the scene or as soon as possible after the accident, it may be difficult to tie your injuries to your motor vehicle accident. This often arises in situations where symptoms worsen slowly over time, and the injured party doesn’t see a doctor for a week or more after the accident. At that point, it may be difficult to prove that the injuries occurred in the accident and not at some point between the automobile accident and the doctor visit.
Even if you can tie the injuries to the traffic crash, the responsible party’s attorney may argue that your injuries are more severe than they needed to be. For example, the other driver’s lawyer may say that your lost income is partially attributable to your own negligence in not seeking medical care promptly. They may even be right.
Don’t Take Unnecessary Risks with Your Health… or Your Case
Ensuring that you haven’t overlooked any injuries that may be more serious than you realize or become aggravated as you return to your regular activities should be reason enough to get assessed at the accident scene and to follow up in the emergency room or with your regular doctor if recommended. You will also want to seek medical attention if you begin to experience symptoms after the accident.
However, if that isn’t enough motivation to get you to the doctor, consider the possibility that neglecting medical treatment could cut into the compensation you receive. Depending on the circumstances, that can be a serious problem. For example, imagine that you suffer a minor back injury that could have been corrected with some temporary restrictions and physical therapy. However, you failed to seek medical treatment or disregarded the doctor’s instructions. Months later, your situation has been aggravated and you now require back surgery.
That’s just the kind of loss personal injury claims are intended to address. But, if the other party successfully argues that the surgery was only necessary because you neglected your own medical care, you may end up responsible for all or part of the associated expense.
One of the best ways to avoid errors that can significantly impact your motor vehicle accident claim is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after the accident. Attorney Kevin P. Broderick helps people who have been injured in car accidents in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He offers free consultations to ensure that you have the information you need to make good decisions about your next steps. You can schedule yours right now by calling 978-459-1792 or filling out the contact form on this site.
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