How Gaps in Medical Treatment Can Impact a Personal Injury Case

Female medical practitioner reassuring a patient - gaps in medical treatment concept

Medical documentation is the foundation of every personal injury case. In addition to proving the extent of your damages, your medical records will be key evidence in establishing the value of your injuries. One of the biggest challenges can be not following your doctor’s orders or failing to seek treatment when you are symptomatic. This is commonly known as a gap in medical treatment and can be one of the most common reasons insurance companies undervalue.

What is a Gap in Medical Treatment?

Whether you have been in a car crash, slip and fall, trip and fall, or another type of accident, documenting your medical treatment is just as important to building your personal injury case as it is to your health. Receiving consistent treatment can help ensure you make the fullest recovery possible. A gap in medical treatment refers to any period of time you fail to attend your medical appointments after suffering an accident-related injury. There are two primary ways gaps in medical treatment can occur — by failing to seek medical attention when you are symptomatic and not following your doctor’s recommended course of treatment.

Failing to Seek Prompt Medical Attention

The first way for a gap in medical treatment to arise is by failing to seek medical attention for a symptomatic condition until a substantial amount of time has gone by. In such cases, the defendant’s insurance company will argue that since you did not get treatment right away, your injuries are not as serious as you are claiming. If you wait too long to treat, they may also try to assert that your injuries were the result of a subsequent accident, rather than the one at issue.

Failing to Follow Your Doctor’s Treatment Plan

Another way a gap in medical treatment can arise is if you do not follow your doctor’s continuing treatment plan. Although you might start feeling better, you should not stop attending your medical appointments until your doctor determines that you have reached maximum medical improvement. Not only might your injuries not fully heal if you stop treating before your doctor has declared that you have recovered, but the defendant’s insurance company will use this as a reason to devalue your claim.

How Does Medical Treatment Impact a Personal Injury Case?

Getting the medical treatment you need can strengthen your personal injury case and impact the compensation you receive. Your medical records can help to establish causation in your case by showing a causal link between your injuries and the accident in question. They can also be critical to proving your economic and non-economic damages.

Additionally, the medical records generated as a result of your treatment can be essential to demonstrate the severity of your injuries. The type of medical treatment you received, the duration of your recovery, and the impact the accident had on your daily life are all factors that are considered when determining your pain and suffering damages.

How Do Gaps in Medical Treatment Affect Compensation?

Personal injury lawsuits are based primarily on the plaintiff’s medical records. Without adequate documentation of treatment, the defense will try to weaken your case and deny you your rightful monetary recovery. Significantly, your medical records will show how your injuries affected you — physically, financially, and emotionally.

While the defendant’s insurance company will be looking for any reason to deny your claim, gaps in medical treatment can:

  • Give the appearance to the insurance company that your claim is not genuine
  • Lead the insurance company to argue your injuries are not as severe as you claim
  • Raise the issue of whether your injuries resulted from another accident

However, it is important to understand that not every gap in medical treatment will adversely affect a personal injury claim. There can sometimes be valid and excusable reasons for a gap. For example, you may have had to deal with a separate illness, apart from your accident-related injury, that required medical care. Or, you might have visited a sick loved one out of state or had to deal with a family emergency. Small gaps in treatment that can be explained usually will not impact your personal injury matter — but it is crucial to keep your attorney informed so they can develop an effective strategy in your case.

Contact an Experienced Washington Personal Injury Attorney

If you have been injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney can fight to recover the damages to which you are entitled. The Bellingham personal injury attorneys at Robinson & Kole provide adept counsel to accident victims throughout Washington State and work to secure the maximum compensation available to them under the law. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 800.640.5616 or by using our online contact form. Se habla Español.

Categories: Personal Injury