You’ve been involved in an accident where you feel someone else was at fault and you’re injured, but not seriously enough to warrant a $1,000 ambulance ride.
What do you do? Do you immediately go to the hospital? Wait until the next day to see how you are feeling? Wait a week or so to see if your injuries get better on their own with time? Ultimately, those decisions are up to you, but failing to get medical treatment or failing to follow doctor’s orders, can often have a negative effect on your personal injury claim.
Unfortunately, there is no bright-line rule with regard to medical treatment after an accident, which is one of the many reasons it is important to talk to an attorney before you talk to the liability insurance company about your injuries.
Liability insurance companies are going to look at several factors when evaluating your personal injury claim, the first one being fault.
You feel like the other party is at fault, the accident report says the other party is at fault, but the insurance company is saying that you contributed to the accident. In North Carolina, if you are found to have contributed to the accident, you get nothing. Your vehicle does not get repaired or replaced and you are stuck with the medical bills. The problem is, you likely will not know if liability is accepted when you are making some of these decisions regarding your medical treatment, which is why it is beneficial to talk to a lawyer’s office first.
Even if liability is accepted, an insurance company may still not “accept” your injury claim. Meaning they may not believe that you were injured as a result of the accident. They will take care of your vehicle, but that is it. One of the factors an insurance company will look at in evaluating your claim is the amount of property damage to your vehicle and the purported speed at which the impact occurred.
All too often the insurance company will deny the injury claim in low speed, low impact accidents on the basis that the impact was not severe enough to cause injury. The insurance company will also look back at your prior medical history to see if you had the same or similar complaints before the accident.
Worse yet, even if your injury claim is accepted in that they believe you were injured as a result of the accident, the insurance company will still look at the amount of your medical bills, who you treated with and the length of your treatment and decide if they deem it is reasonable and necessary or reasonable and customary—as if you have any control over what the medical providers charge for their services.
There is also sometimes a misconception about who pays for your medical treatment. The bottom line is you do. While someone else may ultimately be responsible for your injuries and damages, that hospital, x-ray, doctor, chiropractor, etc. bill is in your name, not the person who caused your injury. That provider is going to look to you for payment for their services. For that reason we also recommend you use your health insurance if you have it.
All of the above reasons (and many others) are why you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney before you talk to the insurance company for the other driver about your injuries. Whether you are injured in North Carolina or South Carolina, at the Law Offices of Jason E. Taylor, PC, we appreciate the opportunity to see if we can help.