How NOT Seeing a Doctor Can Decrease the Value of Your Injury Claim

Portland injury lawyers always tell people that the first thing they should do after any traffic accident is to see a physician, but many people fail to heed this advice. Many people think they’ve just been shaken up and that there’s no real damage done. Still others say they haven’t got the time, or that they can’t afford the added expense, or even that without their damaged vehicle, they simply have no way to get to a doctor’s office. What these people fail to realize is that not seeking medical treatment as soon as possible after an accident is dangerous on two fronts, both physically and financially.

Delays in Getting Treatment Can Negatively Affect Your Claim

Failing to see a physician as soon as possible after an accident is known as a “delay in treatment.” This delay can have seriously negative consequences in the recovery process which is just one reason why not seeing a physician after an accident is a big mistake. It is far better to see a doctor and having him confirm there’s nothing wrong with you, than to not see a doctor when you have soft tissue damage, whiplash or other injuries that people often put down to being “just a bit shaken up,” or a “few bumps and bruises, but nothing serious,” two phrases often used by people when asked if they’ve been hurt.

A delay in treatment can also seriously reduce the amount of money the insurance company of the driver who injured you will pay in compensation. This is standard insurance industry practice, and the insurance companies use software programs to justify lower awards when there’s been a delay in treatment in any case, regardless of the severity of the injury.

After an accident, Portland injury lawyers will provide crucial data to the insurance adjuster on their client’s behalf. The adjuster will enter the data they receive and the software then generates a final settlement amount to be offered to the injured party. If the victim has delayed receiving treatment, the software will automatically reduce to a very great degree the amount of the settlement, so it’s vital that the injured party has seen a doctor, regardless of the severity of the injury.

How soon should I see a doctor?

If you’ve been in an accident, the short answer is that you should see a doctor as soon as possible. As far as the insurance companies and their software programs are concerned, if you haven’t seen a physician within 72 hours of the accident taking place, there’s been a delay in treatment. On the other hand, anyone who can actually verify that they have seen a doctor within three days of an accident will have added what is called a “value driver” to their score on the insurance company’s software. While there are, of course, other value drivers taken into consideration, this is the first and potentially the most important in determining your final compensation offer.

What if I can’t get an appointment?

The first step after the accident should be to call your usual doctor’s office and explain that you’ve been in a traffic accident. Tell the person who answers the phone that you need to be seen right away. In most cases, they’ll schedule you an appointment, but if not, there are other options available to you, including:

  • Go to an Urgent Care facility to be seen. Be sure to keep all records of your visit, as well as any receipts or reports. Portland injury lawyers want as much data as you can provide, so don’t worry, nothing is too small to be bothered with.
  • See a chiropractor. Insurance company software programs automatically recognize a licensed chiropractor as a physician, so once you’ve been seen, examined (possibly including X-rays), given your history and received a written record of the findings within the 72-hour limit, you will have satisfied the insurance company’s “rule.”
  • Go to a local hospital emergency room. If you can’t be seen by an M.D. or chiropractor within 72 hours, most areas have hospitals designated as trauma centers. These places cannot turn you away, even if you don’t have health insurance or the money to pay for your visit.

In each of these cases, it’s important to realize that you are entitled to be examined, even if you’re not feeling pain or discomfort. Portland injury lawyers see cases all too frequently where their clients suffered severe, even life-altering injuries that didn’t surface for a week or more. In such cases, it’s extremely difficult to get insurance adjusters to increase their compensation offers, for the simple reason that there’s been a delay in treatment.

Protect Your Right to Compensation by Ensuring Evidence of Injury

Health care professionals are trained to spot injuries that victims themselves might not even be aware of or recognize. Some people might want to just “tough it out,” and there are a lot of people who just can’t stand the thoughts of being examined by any doctor, regardless of the circumstances. What’s crucially important to understand, however, is that some injuries are going to involve extensive and expensive medical treatment and ongoing care, sometimes for many years after the accident has occurred.

A delay in seeking, at the very least, a medical opinion as to the severity of your injuries could dramatically affect your ability to survive both physically and financially. No matter how “fine” you think you feel after an accident, the one thing you simply must do is seek medical help within three days. Immediately after that, the next thing you should do is contact a team of dedicated, experienced Portland injury lawyers who understand the insurance claims process. They will give you a full list of everything you need to get the maximum compensation you will need to help in the recovery process and fight to help you get it.