One of the biggest mistakes people make in their personal injury cases is putting their medical treatment on hold, or stopping it altogether. Not only can this adversely affect your health, but it can negatively impact the outcome of your lawsuit. Whether a gap in treatment happened for a legitimate reason or you just thought you’d “tough it out,” not seeing a doctor is the surest way to reduce your compensation — or get your claim dismissed entirely.
Reasons You Might Have a Gap in Treatment
A gap in treatment can occur in two ways. The first way a plaintiff might have a gap in medical treatment is by failing to seek medical attention until weeks, or even months, later. These instances usually occur when a victim doesn’t initially think they’ve been injured. It’s not uncommon for pain and symptoms associated with car accident injuries to only arise later.
The second type of gap in treatment happens when a plaintiff fails to follow their doctor’s treatment plan or attend ongoing medical appointments. However, there may be reasons that a gap was unavoidable. For instance, if you were sick and couldn’t make it to the scheduled appointments or you were healing from an unrelated surgery, you might have a reasonable excuse that a good personal injury lawyer can work with.
Other valid reasons for missing medical appointments might include:
- Caring for a sick family member
- Closures related to the pandemic
- Unexpected emergencies
- Taking a trip to see a relative
Not having health insurance isn’t a reason to skip treatment. It’s important to be aware that no-fault benefits will cover up to $50,000 of your medical bills and lost wages. After these benefits have been exhausted, you should continue to treat until your doctor has determined you’ve reached maximum medical improvement. You may have the option to make a claim against the other driver’s bodily injury liability insurance — or you can treat on a lien which can be repaid from your personal injury settlement.
How Can a Gap in Treatment Impact Your Personal Injury Case?
Just because there is a gap in your treatment doesn’t mean you’re not injured. However, the damages in a personal injury case are based on medical evidence. A plaintiff must establish that their injuries stem from the accident caused by the defendant’s negligence and not another incident. Medical documentation is the primary way to do this.
Some injuries might require a longer period of treatment than others. Whether your doctor recommended physical therapy, referred you to a chiropractor, or you need surgery, it’s essential to follow through with the treatment plan. Critically, medical records don’t only prove how your injuries affect you physically — they can also show the emotional, financial, and psychological impact of the accident.
If you have a gap in treatment, the defendant’s insurance company will attempt to use this as evidence that your injuries aren’t as serious as you allege — regardless of their severity. They will look for any reason to pay out as little as possible on your claim. In addition, if you didn’t get medical help right away, the defense might try to argue that your injuries weren’t caused by the accident at issue, but resulted from a subsequent one.
Bottom line: Failure to get medical care after an accident is a costly mistake in any personal injury case that can be avoided. It’s best to seek emergency treatment immediately after an accident — and it’s imperative to continue your course of treatment in accordance with your doctor’s advice.
Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney
If you have been injured due to the negligence of another, a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer can help ensure you obtain the maximum compensation you deserve. As a result of our dedication, experience, and integrity, we regularly secure verdicts and settlements in the millions for our clients.
The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown LLP is a personal injury law firm dedicated to fighting for the rights of accident victims to ensure they get the monetary recovery they deserve for their injuries. Located in Manhattan, our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout New York City since 1937. Call to schedule a free consultation at (212) 425-1999 today.