Delayed medical treatment: does it hurt my case?

Steve Harrelson, a car accident lawyer Little Rock AR trusts, has lots of experience with victims of negligence coming in and relaying the following scenario: “I was involved in a car accident, and I did not immediately seek medical treatment.  Now, three days later, I cannot move and haven’t been able to get out of bed for two days.”  The next question inevitably asks whether failure to seek medical treatment will hurt their claim for bodily injury.

Here’s the unfortunate answer: Yes, it will.  We live in an age where most claims representatives and many jurors already perceive Plaintiffs with an eye of caution, wondering how hurt they really are, if they are even hurt at all.  The insurance companies have won the 10-second soundbite battle, and many times, Plaintiffs are associated with wanting something for nothing (or wanting to hit the lottery).  So naturally, yes, if a claims representative finds out that you were involved in a car accident and didn’t seek medical treatment until days or weeks later, they very well may naturally assume that someone – a friend, family member, lawyer, etc. – told you to go frivolously run up a bunch of medical bills to try and make some money.  Many times, clients have finally gone to the hospital after a week only to learn that they do indeed have a broken bone.

Seeking Medical Treatment

The lawyers at the Harrelson Law Firm understand that many times, people don’t go to the emergency room for a variety of rational reasons: (1) people get shots of adrenaline during car accidents and don’t realize the pain they are in until they get home, (2) people do not like to seek medical treatment because of coverage or financial problems, (3) people are inherently too busy and try to maintain burdensome schedules even if they are in a car accident, and (4) sometimes, the pain from a whiplash or similar injury simply does not set in immediately.  All of these are valid reasons to avoid medical treatment, and all are backed up with decades of medical support.

As a car accident lawyer Little Rock AR respects might attest, seeking medical treatment after avoiding doing so will require some explanation for the reasons.  Generally, regardless of the explanation, it may give an insurance adjuster the reason to deny a claim to an unrepresented client (the same applies to extended gaps in treatment).  This will require taking the case to the next step and filing a lawsuit against the negligent driver, but an experienced lawyer will still be necessary in order to explain the reasons for delayed treatment to a jury and to navigate the legal dispositive motions that are sure to be filed by the defense.  

For these reasons, it is imperative to hire a veteran litigator and experienced trial lawyer who has been involved in investigating car crashes for years.  


Thanks to Steve Harrelson and our friends and co-contributors from Harrelson Law Firm, P.A. for their added insight into claims negotiations in motor vehicle accidents.

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