The role of medical treatment in a car accident claim is best illuminated by way of example:
A potential client, let’s call him John, scheduled a consultation in our law office. John had been in a car accident six months prior in which the other driver was at fault. John was seeking compensation for his bodily injuries and felt that third-party insurance (the at-fault driver’s insurer) was treating him unfairly.
The property damage was quite substantial and his movements were cautious and guarded, consistent with ongoing pain. John confirmed that he was injured in the car accident and was still struggling with daily discomfort and physical restrictions.
As an articulate historian, John detailed the sources of his pain and the ongoing havoc in his life as a result of his injuries from this collision. However, when asked to detail his course of treatment, John revealed that he had not been to see any medical providers; traditional, homeopathic, chiropractic or otherwise.
We informed John that the absence of treatment was going to have a negative effect on the third party’s valuation of his claim. John was appalled! We know the mere fact that he had not gone to the doctor did not mean that he was not in significant pain and in no way diminished his inconvenience and suffering, but it did nonetheless, make his claim much more difficult.
The problems with John’s claim highlight the crucial role of medical treatment in every personal injury case.
Medical Treatment Helps Your Personal Injury Claim
Aside from the obvious – your health and well-being – medical treatment also greatly affects the value of your personal injury claim.
There are a number of reasons for this, the first being that your doctor acts as an autonomous source of corroboration.
If you are evaluated by an independent medical professional who via their experience and expertise substantiates the presence of injury; insurance is provided with evidence independent of your word.
The course of treatment and associated medical records substantiates ongoing injuries and the need for continued treatment.
Doctrine of Avoidable Consequences
As an injured person making a claim for damages, you have an obligation to mitigate damages by taking reasonable steps to lessen the harm done.
It is known as the “Doctrine of Avoidable Consequences.”
The rule is that where one person has committed an unintentional legal wrong against another, it is incumbent upon the latter to use such means as are reasonable under the circumstances to avoid or minimize the damages.
The person wronged cannot recover for any item of damage which could have been avoided.
In our example, John will thus have difficulty recovering money for six months of pain in the absence of any treatment. Third party insurance will argue that crawling around his house in pain was simply unreasonable, and that had he pursued some form of medical/rehabilitative/therapeutic treatment, his injuries would have likely resolved in a shorter time and his suffering been minimized substantially.
Consistent treatment, showing up for appointments, and following provider directives are similarly important.
The course of medical treatment is important in every personal injury claim. If you are involved in an incident that caused you bodily harm, you should seek medical attention as soon as possible. Medical care will help you recover faster, and will also help your claim if you were not at fault.