In the last installment of Mythbusters, I discussed the myth that one cannot receive a settlement for an auto accident if the injured person didn’t have auto insurance at the time of the wreck causing injury. In this edition, I want to dispell its cousin, the myth that one cannot receive a settlement unless he or she goes to the hospital immediately after the wreck.
Clinical documentation (through a doctor’s notes) of an injury is key to any claim for damages, but there is no requirement that an injured person visit a hospital or doctors office on the day of the accident. Many injuries are instantly obvious and necessitate emergent treatment, but often serious injuries do not become symptomatic until the days after a collision. It is well documented that Americans are optimists, and their attitude toward the aches and pains that typically accompany a car crash. The hope and assumption that those aches and pains will subside over time often causes people to delay going to the doctor. Recently our office obtained a six figure settlement for a lady who did not go to the doctor with what turned out to be a bulging disc for 6 weeks after she was rear-ended on a slippery road because she "thought it would get better." Fortunately, there was no incident in between the wreck and the diagnosis which would have allowed the inattentive driver’s insurance company to avoid responsiblity by claiming something other than the wreck caused her problems.
If you have been injured in a collision, getting a doctor to document your injury as soon as possible is a key element of the claim and its importance cannot be underestimated, but there is no hard and fast rule as to when the first report of injury must be made. For more information and to answer any questions you may have, do not hesitate to contact an attorney experienced in injury litigation to verify and protect your rights.