It’s easy to decide to avoid the doctor when we’re injured or sick. Life is busy, no one likes to go to the doctor, and we always think we’ll get better. In fact, there are people who do everything possible to avoid the doctor. But avoiding the doctor when you are injured may hurt you in ways you didn’t anticipate, especially after an accident.
If you’ve been injured due to someone else’s negligence, it’s important to both your health and your future personal injury claim that you seek proper medical treatment. If you’re wondering how long after an accident you should see a doctor or whether you really need to see one at all, keep reading to learn why the answer is yes.
The health consequences of skipping the doctor
First, avoiding the doctor can prolong your recovery and potentially cause long-term health issues. If you are injured, the quickest way to get better is to have a doctor assess your injuries so you can get the treatment you need to heal. In some cases, delaying inevitable treatment can make a temporary condition permanent or create the need for prolonged treatment.
In personal injury cases, clients have the responsibility to “mitigate their damages.” In other words, the client needs to do what is necessary to get better and prevent a bad situation from getting worse. If the client doesn’t, the at-fault party is not responsible for the consequences of the client’s failure to treat.
This is comparable to someone that needs antibiotics for an infection. They won’t get better until they start taking their antibiotics. If they delay taking antibiotics, the infection can get worse and lead to further complications. If someone purposely delayed taking their antibiotics, they themselves would be responsible for the resulting complications.
Even if your condition is not immediately serious, having a professional examination from your doctor ensures your health and can prevent needless complications later on.
The financial costs of not seeing a doctor after an accident
Second, avoiding the doctor prevents you from learning what, if any, long-term effects will result from your injuries. When dealing with an insurance company, it is important to know what the future holds. When making settlement decisions, it is important to have all the information. You should not rely on speculation and website research. With accurate information from your treating doctor, you will be able to assess your future and begin to get an idea of what your personal injury claim is worth. Without this information, you may settle your claim for less than its full value.
Third, and finally, avoiding the doctor causes insurance companies to devalue your claim. Most people admire or respect others who don’t complain and push through the pain. More often than not, these people don’t seek medical treatment, treat sporadically, or delay inevitable treatment when injured.
Insurance companies, however, have a difficult time understanding why someone doesn’t go to the doctor when they are injured. When someone delays or stops seeking treatment for extended periods of time, the insurance companies call this a “gap in treatment.”
Insurance companies believe that juries award less money in cases with “gaps in treatment.” The belief is so strong that some insurance companies have put algorithms in the computer programs they use to assess the value of claims to take into account any “gaps in treatment.”
These computer programs and claims adjusters can be very rigid when evaluating a case with gaps in treatment. Our personal injury attorneys have seen many cases where negotiations have stalled because of this issue. Sometimes filing a lawsuit is the only way to compel an insurance company to reassess the value of a case with “gaps in treatment.”
How long after an accident should you see a doctor?
Put simply, you should see a doctor right away. Even if you feel fine, pain, discomfort, or other symptoms of injury may show up later. And there are financial consequences to skipping the doctor in addition to the damage it can do to your health. If there’s a possibility that you’ll open a personal injury claim to recover damages, you don’t want the record to show too many gaps in treatment.
In summary, take care of yourself, get the treatment you need, and any personal injury claim you have will fall into place. The emphasis should always be on your health.