Sometimes, a potential new client contacts me regarding an injury claim. The person describes the accident and how he was injured, and then he tells me that although he has been hurting for months or even years, he has not received any treatment for his injuries. He often has very good reasons for not getting treatment. Sometimes, he has no insurance and can’t afford to see a doctor. Sometimes, he or she is a single parent working a full-time job who didn’t have time to go to the doctor.
Everyone has his own particular circumstances, and everyone has to make the choices that are best for himself and his family. But these decisions have consequences. If your accident was a year ago-or even six months ago-and you have not seen a doctor, there’s probably not much a lawyer can do for you. When you are making a claim for an injury, you need to prove not only that the accident took place and that it was the other guy’s fault, but that you were injured and that your injuries were caused by the accident. This proof comes in the form of medical records and your doctor’s opinion. Without medical treatment, you have neither medical records nor a doctor’s opinion. Even if you start seeing a doctor long after the accident, there is no way to prove no intervening cause exists for your injuries.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Perhaps a surgeon left an instrument in your abdomen and it was not causing symptoms until recently. Perhaps an auto accident weakened a joint that started causing you pain much later. These situations do arise, and if they can be established with medical evidence, they could still be good cases, but for the most part, if you are hurt and don’t get treatment, it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for a lawyer to get you a recovery.
It must be noted here that I am not suggesting, nor would I ever suggest, that anyone get medical treatment he doesn’t need. Getting unnecessary medical treatment just to build up a claim is fraud, and I won’t have anything to do with that. Also, I also do not prescribe treatment. I’m a lawyer, not a doctor. When a client or potential client asks me what kind of treatment he should get, I tell him to go to his doctor so they can create a treatment plan together.
My point is, if you were in an accident, even a minor one, it is imperative that you get checked out by a medical professional. After that, if you are experiencing any pain, stiffness, or physical limitation, you should be getting some kind of medical treatment. If you don’t, you’re not only prolonging the pain and delaying your recovery, but you are harming your legal claim and reducing your chances of getting a fair recovery.