Missing Medical Appointments Can Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim
When you are seriously injured in an auto accident, there are a lot of questions to answer. How do I pay for the hospital bills? What if the other driver does not have insurance? Should I send the bills to my health insurance carrier? These are just some of the many questions personal injury victims ask when they are starting to get medical care after an accident. Sadly, in addition to being injured, most car accident victims are also out a vehicle.
Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association estimates that Americans lose in excess of $1 trillion per year in total lost life, property, and productivity. A totaled car means a lack of transportation and an inability to get to and from work or school. Insurance companies know this, and they will use it against you. No matter how inconvenient, it is important to make arrangements to get to your appointments after a personal injury.
Understanding the Process
When you are injured and you file a personal injury claim with the insurance company, you are essentially saying that the other driver hurt you in some way, and he or she should have to pay for it. The insurance company’s job is to do three things:
- Investigate to determine whether you are right and whether they should have to pay;
- Defend their driver against lawsuits; and
- Pay claims or judgments arising out of the accident on behalf of their driver.
So, part of the process is determining whether you are hurt and, if so, how badly.
Medical Appointments are Evidence
Since you are claiming injuries, you will have to prove them. Whether through settlement or in a court of law, you will have to be able to prove the extent of your injuries. This is where medical care is so helpful. If you received prompt and immediate medical care after a car accident, then there is a record of your injury. There is proof that you were in a wreck, you were injured in that wreck, and your injuries were bad enough that a medical professional saw fit to treat you for those injuries. So, without evidence, you do not have much of a case.
Missing an Appointment Affects Your Credibility
As strange as the logic may seem, if you miss doctors’ appointments, it makes it suspicious and difficult to later argue to a jury that you were in serious pain. After all, the argument goes, if you were hurting so badly, surely you would be going to the doctor and asking for help. Of course, this logic ignores many of the realities of life, such as child care, jobs, and other demands. Nevertheless, you must try to make all appointments.
Your No-Fault Insurance may Not Cover Missed Appointments
Since New York is a no-fault state, your insurance policy should include benefits that pay regardless of fault or liability. These benefits will pay your medical bills. If you fail to make appointments, your insurance company can use it as grounds to deny your claim. This leaves you with unpaid bills.
Failure to Follow Medical Advice can Make You Worse
If you are claiming an injury, but you refuse to follow recommendations from doctors, such as attending regular appointments for evaluation and physical therapy, the insurance company can argue that you are actually making your condition worse. This can leave you with unpaid bills.
What to do if You Miss a Doctor’s Appointment After a Personal Injury
If you have to miss a medical appointment, you should call your doctor and ask that they document the reason why you could not be there, then reschedule right away. Working with an experienced Long Island auto accident lawyer can help you avoid major mistakes from the start of your case. An injury attorney can often recommend physicians who are convenient to you or on major public transportation lines, rather than across town. Also, some physicians are known to work with insurance companies to argue against their own patients to reduce awards. Having an experienced Nassau County accident attorney can keep you from ruining your case by seeing one of those doctors. For a free consultation, contact the Law Office of Cohen & Jaffe, LLP online or call to schedule your free consultation at (866) 895-0420.
For a free legal consultation, call 516-358-6900