Avoid Damaging Your Personal Injury Case Part 2
In part one, we discussed the importance of acknowledging prior injuries to avoid damaging your personal injury case. “Owning” prior injuries allows you to maintain your credibility and focus on new injuries caused by the accident and/or on factors illustrating an exacerbation of a pre-existing condition.
Prevent Gaps in Treatment
We understand that life doesn’t stop just because you were involved in a motor vehicle collision. You still have bills to pay. The kids still need to get to school and events. You continue to have work demands, errands to run, and all the other various tasks that make up the day. Now you’re injured and a physician has recommended physical therapy three or four times a week. You decide it’s just too much. You only make it to therapy once or twice a week. Later, you have a big work project and you miss two full weeks of therapy. You trust, however, that the insurance adjuster will understand your plight and be fair with you when it comes time to negotiate a settlement.
So here’s some straight talk: Insurance adjusters are paid to argue on behalf of insurance companies. They receive more compensation by awarding you less compensation. Hint: They are not paid to be understanding. They don’t want to acknowledge that a wreck throws a real monkey wrench into your life. Frankly, they could care less about the stress and hardship the accident caused you – “they’ve heard it all before.” They would rather weaponize your missed therapy appointments. They’ll suggest you obviously “weren’t that hurt” and focus on the fact that you were non-compliant. This brings us to another major pitfall to avoid that could really damage your case… a gap in treatment. Generally, when an insurance adjuster references a gap in treatment they are referring to one of two scenarios.
Scenario 1: Initial Gap in Treatment
Let’s say you’re involved in an automobile accident with significant property damage. Your head is ringing and your neck is bothering you but you decide not to be checked out at the emergency room. You figure you’ll feel better soon. A few days pass and you decide you’ll go to the pharmacy and load up on some OTC pain medication and see if that makes a difference. You pop pills for 2 weeks but your pain is getting worse and worse. You decide to contact your primary care physician. Your physician tells you the next available appointment is in 2 weeks or – possibly tells you – they don’t accept third-party insurance. You spend the next 2 weeks just trying to find a doctor who will agree to see you. It has now been a month since your car accident and you have not been examined by a doctor or sought any medical attention whatsoever.
Guess what? The insurance adjuster is going to let you know about it. They’ll casually suggest you must not have been that hurt since it has been a month and you haven’t bothered to go to the doctor. They don’t care that you were trying to just monitor your injuries and see if they improved. They don’t care that doctors have schedules and that it took time for you to get an appointment when OTC pain medication didn’t provide adequate relief. They are going to attempt to use an initial gap in treatment to minimize your personal injury case.
What to Do? If you are involved in a major collision it is always advisable to err on the side of caution and get examined at the emergency room. At a bare minimum you should consider seeking out the opinion of your primary care physician in the days following the motor vehicle accident if your primary care physician will agree to see you.
Remember: Our personal injury law firm has relationships with various medical providers who routinely treat accident injury victims. These providers agree to delay billing for their services until the conclusion of your claim so you can focus on getting better, instead of worrying about the medical bills piling up.
Scenario 2: Sporadic Treatment
Let’s say you start physical therapy at a clinic and they recommend three sessions a week. The first week you make all three sessions. The second week something comes up at work and you miss a session. The third week you’re dealing with some family drama and miss two sessions. A few weeks later you miss a session because you wrote the date down wrong. A few weeks after that you miss some appointments because something else has come up at work.
Like we said above, we understand that “life happens.” Adjusters, however, don’t care. They will argue that all your missed appointments demonstrate you “weren’t that hurt” and were non-compliant with your treatment. They will likely offer you pennies on the dollar.
What Should You Do?
Do your best to make all of your scheduled therapy sessions and doctor appointments. If you need to miss one let the clinic or doctor know and try to reschedule it for the same week. Adjusters will make every argument they can to delay or deny your personal injury claim. Enlist the help of family and friends so you can be compliant with your medical treatment and get the help you need to recover.
Remember: Our injury law firm has relationships with law loan companies that can advance money on the settlement proceeds of your case, if you require funds to make doctor appointments or to take care of bills while your claim is pending, and so you can make necessary doctor appointments.
As you can see above, avoiding a gap in treatment will help you to maximize your case value and prevent the insurance adjuster from suggesting you weren’t really injured.