With the word “injury” right there in the title, it’s no secret that all personal injury cases are centered around ailments, treatment, and compensation. Therefore, it is important for all claimants to understand exactly what they should and should not do when treating their injuries so that the strength of their case is never jeopardized.
The biggest mistake we see our clients make is not continuing through with medical treatments and taking gaps. We always make sure to advise against doing so, but it happens more often than we’d like. Here we will discuss the pitfalls of taking gaps in treatment and how it can negatively impact your case.
What Does it Mean to Have a Gap in Treatment and Why is it Bad?
All potential claimants should know that when you are injured in an accident you should seek medical attention right away, even before you contact an attorney. Then, after you’ve retained counsel, you should continue with any and all treatments and medications that are prescribed to you even if you are feeling better or don’t necessarily need them any longer. There are multiple reasons for this, but the biggest is this: when insurance companies (either yours or opposing) review your injury claim, they will do so almost solely by looking through your medical records, and any gaps in treatment become immediate red flags for them to attack and exploit.
When talking about treatment gaps, there are two distinct kinds that opposing counsel will point to: the first is the period of time from when the accident occurred to when you first received treatment. If, for example, you were in a crash but didn’t seek treatment for weeks or months afterward, it will be almost impossible to argue the severity of your injuries when the records show that you didn’t feel the need to seek treatment until much later.
The second kind of gap in treatment refers to when you do receive initial help but then wait a long time (weeks/months) to go back. This is also detrimental for your case for two reasons: the first is that it is just another way for opposing parties to downplay the seriousness of your injuries, and the second is that when you stop treatment, it is extremely difficult to be approved for more down the road.
To give a hypothetical example, let’s say that Jane gets into an accident and hits her head on the steering wheel. She receives initial treatment and doctors diagnose her with a concussion. However, after a few days, her head starts to feel better so she stops attending treatments. A few weeks later, the pain returns worse than before and starts to seriously affect her quality of life. Unfortunately, when she goes back, she will almost certainly be denied for new care due to the fact that she was prescribed treatment in the past and refused it (or let it go by, which is effectively the same thing).
It is Possible to Have Legitimate Reasons For Taking a Gap
Now to be fair, there are some legitimate reasons as to why there might be a gap in treatment. When you file a personal injury lawsuit, the parties involved realize that you can’t just completely shut down your life for however long the case lasts.
So, sometimes a gap is totally unavoidable, and that’s completely fine so long as it is acknowledged–for example, you may have had a separate health issue that required greater attention, or perhaps you took a trip with your family or went to visit a relative. Maybe you just caught a cold and couldn’t come in for a week. Small, explainable gaps such as these are generally OK and won’t jeopardize your case. Just make sure to be in constant communication with your attorney throughout the course of your claim.
Remember to Listen to Your Physician
At the end of the day, your health is your biggest priority, and so consistent treatment is the best decision for both yourself and your claim. We try our best to explain to all crash victims that latent injuries, or injuries that develop over time, are extremely common. Even a minor jolt or collision can result in a head or neck injury, and if left untreated, they can affect you for the rest of your life. In summary, a personal injury suit can assist you tremendously if handled correctly; if handled poorly, you can end up in worse shape than when you started.
Contact Trusted Personal Injury Attorneys
If you’re in need of an experienced personal injury attorney after suffering injuries in an accident that was the fault of another, don’t hesitate to contact Van Law Firm today. We can help accident victims recover numerous forms of compensation, including medical costs, lost earnings, property damage, pain and suffering, and more. In just under a decade thus far, we’ve recovered over $50 million for our clients, and we’re not slowing down anytime soon. Call our office nearest you today to hear more about the VLF standard.