Today we’re going to tell you about one of the biggest obstacles car crash victims face when it comes to getting compensation for their accident: themselves.
How so? Sometimes, accident victims just don’t want to go to the doctor… even they know they should.
To some extent, it’s just old-fashioned human nature. No one likes going to the doctor. The whole process is stuffy, time-consuming, and a little bit scary. The prospect of poking, prodding, running tests, and potentially even getting bad news… none of it sounds appealing.
But there are some very good reasons for seeing a doctor soon after any accident — and we mean any accident.
Whether it was a car crash in a cul-de-sac or a slip and fall in the grocery store… a case of food poisoning at a restaurant or a dog bite in your neighborhood… seeing a doctor is always the right choice.
First, only a doctor can properly assess your condition. You may think you’re fine, but many injuries do not produce symptoms right away. As Bakersfield personal injury lawyers, we have worked with clients who had significant injuries but no immediate symptoms. Physicians know what to look for; they can give you a better sense of your health needs.
We also want you to understand the importance of medical evidence in an injury claim. Seeing a doctor is about tending to your health, yes, but it’s also about taking proactive steps to prevent an insurance company from unfairly denying your claim.
Medical evidence is critical to most injury claims, and often, that evidence begins with a visit to your doctor. In the sections that follow, we outline why this evidence is so important and how you can take the next step without too much hassle or expense.
Medical Evidence Helps You Meet the Burden of Proof
In California personal injury claims, it is the plaintiff (the person claiming compensation) who has the burden of proof.
Specifically, to successfully recover compensation, you must be able to prove each of the following elements:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care (in other words, the defendant had a legal duty to behave reasonably under the circumstances)
- The defendant breached this duty (in other words, the defendant was careless or negligent)
- The defendant’s carelessness caused your injury
- You have suffered damages as a result of the injury
Medical evidence can be extremely effective in meeting these last two elements. A doctor can help you determine what caused your injuries, and the doctor’s diagnosis can help you persuade a court (or an insurance adjustor) about the harm you’ve suffered and how much money it is worth.
As Bakersfield car accident lawyers, we build a case on all four of those elements for our clients whenever possible. But even our best arguments must ultimately be supported by evidence. That’s why medical records (and other types of medical evidence) become so important.
No Medical Evidence? Insurance Companies Will Use That Against You.
With any injury claim, the insurance company’s goal will be to pay you as little money as possible. After all, insurance companies are corporations. They are motivated by profit. If you give them an opportunity to question your claim or challenge your evidence, they will almost certainly take it.
Some go-to defenses that insurance adjustors might try to raise include:
- “You weren’t really injured.”
- “Your injuries weren’t caused by the accident.”
- “You’re exaggerating the severity of your injuries or the length of your recovery.”
- “You already had a pre-existing condition and are now blaming that on the accident.”
- “The financial damages you’re claiming were unrelated to your injuries.”
- “The medical treatment you received wasn’t medically necessary.”
- “You waited too long to see a doctor.”
- “Without medical evidence, all your other evidence just isn’t strong enough to convince a jury.”
These are only examples of the various arguments and defenses an insurance company might raise.
While we are prepared to aggressively stand up against these defensive tactics (and have successfully overcome them in many of our past cases), doing so can be a real challenge without medical evidence to build a case upon.
Affording Medical Evidence in an Injury Claim
One of the top reasons people give for not seeing a doctor is that they can’t afford it.
Certainly, we understand that medical care can be costly. Then again, visiting the doctor after an accident might be more affordable than you realize.
First, if your accident is a medical emergency, please know that you will not be denied care in an Emergency Room, regardless of your health insurance status or ability to pay.
If your situation isn’t an emergency, you should still try to see a doctor. Consider these options:
- Your health insurance may cover most (or all) of the cost of an exam.
- If you don’t have health insurance, there may be medical providers in your area who are willing to reduce their costs for uninsured patients.
- Your employer may be willing to cover your time off to see a doctor.
- Though we strongly urge you to see a licensed Medical Doctor (M.D.) when possible, you might also consider going to an Urgent Care center, which can be less expensive than Emergency Rooms. (Some Urgent Care centers will allow you to see a licensed M.D.)
While it is true that there may be some costs associated with seeing a doctor, your injury claim could ultimately be worth much more. Moreover, you may be able to include the cost of care as part of your claim.
Given the importance of medical evidence in an injury claim, you may very well find that seeing a doctor is worth it in the long run.
What If I Don’t Have Medical Evidence? Can I Still Make a Claim?
While medical evidence is extremely important, you should never assume that you don’t have a case without it.
First, it may not be too late for you to seek medical attention now. Even if some time has passed since the date of your accident, we encourage you to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. It is not unusual for accident victims to discover injuries well after the day of the accident due to the delayed onset of symptoms. If you have reason to believe that you may have an injury claim, please see a doctor without any further delay.
Keep in mind that other kinds of evidence may be useful to your claim as well: photographs, eyewitness testimony, expert witness testimony, accident reconstruction evidence, video surveillance, journal entries, and so on.
The importance of medical evidence in an injury claim notwithstanding, before you reach any conclusions about whether you have a case, talk to a lawyer.
The Law Offices of Mickey Fine: Bakersfield Personal Injury Lawyers Who Understand That Every Penny Counts
At The Law Offices of Mickey Fine, we are dedicated to fighting for the rights of unfairly injured Californians.
Please don’t settle for less than you’re owed. Don’t make the mistake of trying to handle insurance companies or employers on your own. Let our office fight to get you the recovery you deserve.
Contact The Law Offices of Mickey Fine for a free and confidential case review today.