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Personal Injury? A Delay In Medical Care Can Harm Your Claim.

Personal Injury? A Delay In Medical Care Can Harm Your Claim.


As a personal injury attorney, I often follow other trials and verdicts across Alabama. Recently, some excellent attorneys obtained a great verdict for their injured client in south Alabama. During that trial, the insurance company attorney argued that the personal injury victim could not be hurt because he waited 21 days to seek medical care. The argument:  A delay in getting medical care means you were not hurt!

The truth, short delays or gaps in medical care are common. They are very common. What are some reasons personal injury victims delay initial medical care? Here are seven common reasons:

  • A Dislike Of Medical Visits/Appointments. Who does like medical visits? Sitting in waiting rooms for hours. Endless forms. Doctors/nurses poking and prodding you. After an accident, you may be hurting. But, you are hopeful a few days or weeks of rest and you will be better. So, you wait and see. That’s normal. Yet, if you make a claim later, the insurance company will use your delay against you.
  • A Desire To Self-Heal. This goes hand-in-hand with a general dislike of waiting in doctors’ offices. Most of us don’t want to rush and see a doctor. Yet, the insurance company will try and twist this perfectly normal behavior against you. If you are hurting, it’s helpful to see a physician. I do not advise waiting. If you intend to wait, at least let some of your friends and family know the injuries you suffer.
  • A Lack Of Health Insurance. Face it, many people lack health insurance. My heart aches for hurting people who cannot get needed medical care because of a lack of health insurance. This problem is very common. I hear it often in client interviews.
  • An Employer Who Will Not Allow Time-Off. A loss of employment can be devastating. Our families depend on us. Some employers are very understanding and allow time away from work. But, others do not. Many personal injury victims simply cannot afford to miss work.
  • A Loss Of Transportation (Your car was damaged in the accident). How many people have access to extra cars? Very few. For many people in a car crash, the loss of their vehicle creates tremendous problems. Yes, insurance companies often pay for vehicle repairs quickly. But, in some situations, they do not. Suddenly, an accident victim cannot get to work, cannot get their children to school and cannot get to medical visits. Even a short-term loss of a vehicle can create tremendous issues.
  • An Inability To Get A Doctor Or Medical Appointment. Doctors are busy. You may call to schedule an appointment with your desired physician. Yet, you suddenly find the doctor booked for the next month. What do you do? You can try another doctor. Most of us prefer to see the doctor we choose. If this is the case, make sure you call for the appointment as soon as possible.
  • An Overall Soreness That Masks Specific Injuries. In the moments after an accident, many people feel an adrenaline rush. This adrenaline rush can mask injuries. Over the next couple of days, you begin to hurt badly. Maybe you hurt all over. Sometimes, you suffer a general soreness or stiffness. That’s normal. As your overall soreness improves, you notice a nagging pain in a specific body part that just won’t end. Now, you realize you have a serious injury.

I have handled personal injury cases over two decades. I’ve heard insurance adjusters and defense attorneys make arguments based upon a delay in medical care more times than I can count. Usually, these arguments are ridiculous attempts to grasp at any straw. In the recent south Alabama verdict, the personal injury victim delayed care for 21 days. That’s right, only 21 days. Based on the good verdict, the jurors in that case clearly rejected the ridiculous insurance company arguments.

Unfortunately, defense arguments based on delays in medical care are far too often successful. Too many car accident victims lose their claims because of simple and short delays in care. Too often, lawyers fail to advise their clients properly or fail to discredit these insurance company arguments. Frankly, we have so many billboard and television lawyers advertising for personal injury cases who simply want a volume of cases to settle. They rarely prepare their cases against insurance company arguments.

If you have suffered a serious personal injury in a car crash or other type of accident, consult an attorney with real trial experience in these claims. Don’t call a billboard attorney who is all bluster. Most trial attorneys will provide a free consultation. We do. We like to talk to callers. You should get the advice you need as you begin the recovery process from a serious injury.