Do you need to see a doctor to file a personal injury lawsuit?

Updated on July 17, 2021

Most personal injury claims are complex. You are going through a possibly catastrophic event while trying to recover. The entire situation is stressful, and there is no reason to pursue a lawsuit on your own. Expert personal injury attorneys give free case evaluations and help you in your journey for the compensation you deserve.

When should I see a doctor?

The quick answer is – immediately. However, that is not always possible. You should see a doctor right after an accident because insurance companies are not above claiming your injuries did not happen or happened elsewhere. Seeking treatment for your injuries on the exact day of the accident keeps an insurance company from making such assertions.

It is natural for us to have a natural flight or fight reaction to a traumatic event. Even if you wait a day to see a medical professional, it could be enough for them to try to deny coverage. However, if you do not notice your injuries until the next day, you have the right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.

Do I have to go to the emergency room?

Emergency rooms have some of the best physicians out there. Even if you do not experience pain until the next day, an ER doctor can document your pain and symptoms that will be part of your personal injury claim.

You might just think it is whiplash, but even whiplash can lead to long-term consequences. The smallest ache can evolve into something serious and quickly. It is critical that you are honest and upfront with your emergency room physician when discussing your injuries. Even the most minor of details can be helpful for your future personal injury claim.

ER documentation is vital for your case because ER medical personnel do a thorough examination and typically document everything. They will encourage you to follow up with your personal physician or will refer you if you do not have one or need a specialist.

Are the primary care follow-ups necessary if I went to the ER?

Primary care follow-ups are good to have for a lot of reasons. The most important one being documentation. However, if you have a concussion or broken bone, it will be out of the league. 

In some cases, a primary care doctor can’t document traumatic injuries, or an insurance company will find their care proves that your injuries were less significant. They can refer you to a specialist in their network, and because you trust them, it might help the process go smoother.

Seeking the Right Specialists

Personal injuries range in both type and severity. You might need a chiropractor for some injuries and a neurologist for others. You must keep your appointments with every specialist and gather all of the documentation.

The emergency room physician or general practitioner can refer you to the specialists that fit your injuries. Personal injury attorneys also have a great network of experts and specialists who can help steer you in the right direction. 

The Importance of Medical Documentation

The most important reason why keeping up with documents is so important is that your personal injury attorney and insurance company use them accurately assess what damages to seek.

The medical documentation that best helps your lawyer includes:

  • Medical-related bills
  • Proof of visits and surgeries
  • Receipts for medication and prescription costs
  • Records from the emergency room and hospitalization
  • Visits to psychologists or therapists
  • Receipts for medical equipment 

Documentation is one of the reasons why having personal injury lawyers with a strong foundation of legal experience benefits you. They understand what records and documents they need to seek compensation and win for you. 

Steps You Can Take After an Injury

An accident or injury can make us feel out of control of the situation. But you can take steps towards ensuring a positive outcome in your personal injury case.

Be honest and straightforward – from the doctor to your personal injury attorney. If you mislead them regarding any aspect of your injury, your claim will get denied, and you are left with your bills.

Do not communicate with insurers or on the Internet about your accident. Anything you say or do, the insurance company can use against you. If in doubt, just do not talk about the situation or claim. Those details are strictly between you and your personal injury attorney.

Keeping a medical journal is both good for you and your case—some things a doctor can’t document as well as you can. 

  • Improvements or setbacks
  • All medication, even over the counter
  • Daily physical pain levels
  • Moods
  • Anxiety levels
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Following Your Doctors’ Advice

Regardless of when you seek medical attention, follow every bit of their advice and go to every single appointment. You might feel better and think it is fine to skip a follow-up or stop going altogether. But it is dangerous for you and bad for your personal injury case.

Initially, you might only tell your doctor about the most serious complaints. However, you need to alert your doctor of every pain in every body part. Adrenaline can sometimes mask severe injury, so updating your doctors is vital.

Part of following a doctor’s advice requires you to be honest about previous injuries or pre-existing conditions. They can’t help you if they have gaps in your medical history.

And finally, if you miss days at work for appointments or emergency visits, always get a note. It is part of that documentation that your personal injury attorney will want to decide damages.

Types of Damages

Damages are the legal term for compensation in personal injury cases. If you are the victim of an injury, property damage, or any other sort of loss, you can seek compensation from the person who caused or contributed to that loss.

The types of damages include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Cost of long-term disability
  • Lost wages and future income
  • Funeral costs in the case of fatality
  • Pain and suffering

Your focus should be on recovering after an accident. Requesting a free consultation with a personal injury attorney as soon as both can help you today and in the future. 

If you don’t seek medical attention immediately, do it as soon as you possibly can. The longer you wait, the less chance there will be a positive outcome when seeking compensation. 

It is up to your lawyer to help gather documents, refer you to specialists and experts, and seek the compensation you deserve. You do not have to go through this trauma alone. 

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The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.