When you are in a car crash, your own insurance will pay all of your medical bills for a year after the crash, up at at least $15,000. This is called “personal injury protection” or PIP, and every Oregon auto policy is required to have this coverage.
Neither the insurance company nor a jury will simply take your word for how injured you are. They are more likely to believe your doctor. But your doctor will not know how badly you have been injured unless you get the treatment you need.
The severity of an injury is judged largely by how much treatment you receive.
Imagine two people: Julie and Martin.
They both get the exact same injury: a broken ankle. They both go to the emergency room, then to an orthopedic specialist who puts on a cast. They both wear the cast for four weeks then get it taken off. After that, their stories diverge.
Julie goes to physical therapy twice a week for several months. She does her home exercises twice a day, according to her doctor’s orders. She never misses an appointment. After five months of this, she’s good as new. So six months after she broke her ankle, she’s right back where she was before the accident. She can ride a bike and jog just like she used to.
Martin, on the other hand, doesn’t much like his physical therapist, and has trouble getting time off from work to go. So his ankle doesn’t really get better. He goes to an appointment now and then, but doesn’t do the exercises because he doesn’t feel like they help, and he doesn’t have the time! A year after the accident, his ankle still gives him trouble occasionally. He’s almost better, but after a long bike ride it’ll hurt, and he can’t really jog anymore.
Who do you think will get more compensation from their injury? In our experience, Julie will get more. Jurors and insurance adjusters both will judge Martin harshly. They will be of the opinion that he would have gotten better if he’d tried harder–and why should they help him with compensation if he won’t help himself by going to the doctor?
Don’t ever avoid treatment because you think you’ll get more money if your injury is worse. The reverse is usually true. Plus, in addition to probably getting more money, Julie’s ankle is completely healed–which is more important than the money anyway.
A gap in treatment can also significantly lower the value of your case. If you went to physical therapy twice a week in January and February, then did not go at all in March, then went twice a week in April and May, jurors will be suspicious. Sometimes there is a good reason for this. But if your reason is, “I got sick of driving all that way and had other things to do,” then you will be lowering the value of your case.
Get all the medical care you need, and follow your doctors’ orders. This will show everyone concerned that you are serious about recovering from your injury, and your injury claim will often be taken more seriously as well.