Can I Sue Someone Who Caused an Accident Even If I Did Not Go to the Doctor Immediately?
If you were injured in an accident caused by the negligent or wrongful conduct of another person, you have the right to compensation from that person. In some cases, however, an injured victim does not always seek immediate medical attention. Can this jeopardize your right to compensation?
Not all injury accidents produce immediate symptoms of an injury. Many soft tissue injuries, also known as whiplash, that generally affect your neck and back, do not manifest any symptoms for several days. You may also believe that your soreness, headaches, nausea, dizziness and inability to sleep or focus is temporary and will dissipate within a few days. It is only when these symptoms worsen or fail to go away after a couple of weeks that you finally decide to see a health care provider.
Although many people assume that soft tissue injuries are always minor and its symptoms and effects are largely subjective, these can develop into very serious spinal problems and long lasting or permanent disability.
Your main obstacle in bringing an injury claim may your own credibility. Most insurers are skeptical of claimants who do not immediately seek medical attention after an accident, especially those who wait until they have retained an attorney to obtain medical care or who go to a health care provider referred to them by their attorney.
In most cases, the longer you wait to see a doctor after your accident, the less likely an insurer will believe you were injured in the accident. Some insurers will ask that you undergo a medical examination by a physician of their own choosing. In uninsured motorist claims or if you are receiving PIP benefits, your insurer can have you examined so that it can terminate benefits or claim that it owes you little or no compensation.
Emotional or psychological injuries such as post-traumatic stress disorder do not necessarily display symptoms immediately after an accident or you may not recognize you have a disorder until months after the incident.
Your Health Care Provider Can Be Crucial
In circumstances where you did not go to the doctor immediately, the opinion of your physician or chiropractor can be crucial. Your doctor can point out that most soft tissue injuries produce few or minor symptoms for several days after an accident and that you did notice certain symptoms in the days or weeks following the accident and assumed these would go away.
In other cases, your doctor could show that you tried to self-treat for a time or that you are the type that avoids doctors unless necessary. The strongest evidence can be that your symptoms have worsened into a condition that requires surgical intervention or much more extensive conservative treatment. Explaining your results on certain neurological or orthopedic tests that cannot be considered malingering, or fabricating pain or symptoms, can help your claim substantially.
Your best course of action is to immediately go to a doctor after an accident if you have any symptoms of pain or soreness or are experiencing other injury signs such as nausea, headaches, dizziness, balance problems, knee or joint problems or anything else that is out of the ordinary.