I have been a personal injury lawyer in Arizona ever since I graduated from law school. After graduating from law school I worked for big law firms that represented insurance companies in a variety of liability matters. I spent the first five years of my legal practice defending accident cases for insurance companies. This gave me a unique inside view of how insurance companies evaluate accident cases. I learned what insurance companies place value on when it comes to auto accidents and what types of things can actually drive down the value of your case.
For the last seven years, I have represented numerous accident victims against insurance companies. One of the things I try to do with each new accident case is to educate my clients about what they should or should not do in order to maximize their accident cases. I have come up with a list of things for clients to avoid so they don’t “wreck” their accident cases. This blog will be the first in a series of blogs on Mistakes to Avoid so you don’t wreck your Arizona accident case.
One major mistake people often make when they have been in an accident is that they wait too long to seek medical treatment. If you are in an accident it is extremely important to seek medical attention right away, even if you don’t think you are injured. It is not uncommon for symptoms of injuries to be delayed. You may not feel anything at the scene of the accident. I have had numerous clients over the years describe the adrenaline that flows after being involved in an accident. Think about it, when you are in an accident you may feel shocked or excited or even anger. The body naturally creates adrenaline during these moments that may mask injury symptoms. I can’t tell you how many clients over the years have told me that they didn’t feel anything until hours, sometimes 24-48 hours after the accident.
Even if you don’t feel something right away, you should, at a minimum get yourself checked out as soon as possible after the accident. If you don’t feel symptoms until the next day, go as soon as you start feeling injury symptoms. It is extremely important not to delay medical treatment for a couple of reasons. First, in accident cases documentation is everything! If you don’t seek treatment right away you miss a golden opportunity to document how you are feeling in the immediate aftermath of the accident. This is extremely valuable evidence regarding the extent and nature of your injuries. You can never be certain how bad or minor an injury is until you have a complete and thorough exam.
The documentation issue is important because one of the things insurance companies will do is review your medical records with a fine-toothed comb. If they see treatment in close proximity of the accident, it lends a great deal of credibility to your claim you were injured. Remember, insurance companies are not in the business to hand out money, they are in the business to make money. They do this by paying out as little as possible for claims. It becomes more difficult for insurance companies to avoid paying what you deserve if there is medical documentation of your injuries right after the accident.
On the other hand, if you wait for days or even weeks to seek any medical treatment, you may be dealing a fatal blow to your injury case. Insurance companies love to grab on to anything that may justify paying as little as possible for injury claims. If you fail to get immediate treatment after an accident you are running a huge risk that the insurance company will argue that you were either uninjured altogether or not as severely injured as you may be claiming. Their rationale is: if you are injured in an accident and if the injury was serious, you would have sought medical treatment right away. The failure to seek treatment must mean you really were not injured.
Why is all this important? You as the accident victim bear the legal burden of proving you were injured and damaged as a result of the accident. If you cannot prove these two things, you are not legally entitled to compensation. Immediate medical treatment is great evidence of the injuries you have sustained and some of the monetary damages(medical bills) you have incurred as a result of the accident. If you fail to seek immediate medical attention after an accident, you may be handing the insurance company a reason not to pay you what you deserve.
When an accident happens it can be life-changing. Your only recourse for injuries and damages caused by the negligence of others is monetary compensation. You cannot afford to make mistakes that can kill your accident case. Avoid the first major mistake many accident victims make by seeking immediate medical treatment if they have been in an accident.