After a motor vehicle accident, many people in the United States decide to forgo medical treatment due to the high costs of ambulance rides and even the most basic physician evaluations. It’s an understandable decision, especially for injury victims struggling to make ends meet as it is. But, as with many things in life, that decision can turn out to have long-term consequences for accident victims in the end.
The Cost of Recovering from Injuries
One time when I was in high school, I was injured in a snowboarding accident on Steven’s Pass and had to take an ambulance ride from the mountain to a nearby hospital. The ride could not have been more than 30 minutes, yet the bill forwarded to my parents was upwards of $800. Needless to say, that was only for the ride to the hospital, and did not include any of the care that I got once I arrived.
This situation is a prime example of why many people are quite hesitant to take an ambulance ride or visit a hospital for non-life threatening injuries. While one would hope that a victim’s obvious broken bones or head injuries would automatically warrant an ER visit, it’s also understandable that a car accident victim may not see the need to seek medical attention for anything less than a serious injury.
First of all, I want to stress the fact that self-diagnosis is a slippery slope. Simply “feeling fine” after a car accident does not determine whether you have sustained any serious injuries, as some injuries take time to develop. Internal injuries can sometimes take days to become apparent, and these types of injuries need to be discovered as soon as possible in order to avoid long-term health problems. Also, accident victims may go into shock after an accident has occurred, which makes it tough to detect any symptoms of injury.
Evidence = Proof of Injury
Aside from health-related complications, lack of medical treatment following an accident injury can cause other long-term problems for injury victims.
Because medical records are essentially the strongest pieces of evidence in personal injury cases, making the decision to forgo medical treatment can cause complications with the personal injury claims process. If a person is seriously injured in a car accident and does not seek medical attention for their injuries, it can be difficult for an attorney to justify any compensation for the injured person, no matter the extent of their injuries.
In essence, medical records documenting the extent of treatment and long-term complications that can be expected as a result of the injury, which include any potential long-term care, provide attorneys with leverage to request compensation from the insurance company. If there are no medical records showing the extent of the injury and the treatment that the victim has undergone in order to recover, then the value of your personal injury claim is likely to be much lower.