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What If I Refused Treatment After an Accident and Have a Claim?

Neck pain after car accident | Nagle & Associates, P.A.

It’s perfectly natural to be dazed, confused, and overwhelmed in the immediate aftermath of a motor vehicle accident. You probably wanted to leave the scene immediately and rest at home, especially if you didn’t feel initial pain from injuries.

If you didn’t seek medical care initially and symptoms began to manifest a few hours or days later, you may have trouble proving your injuries and recovering compensation. However, it’s not impossible. Here is more about what to do if you’re facing a delayed medical treatment claim.

Reasons People Don’t Seek Treatment After Car Accidents

Refusing treatment after an accident is more common than you might think. Accident victims often don’t seek medical care for a number of reasons, including:

  • They have no visible injuries or symptoms at first.
  • They have some symptoms or injuries but don’t think they are serious.
  • They prefer to rest and receive care at home.
  • They are unaware of the potential medical and legal consequences of not taking action to receive early medical attention.

What Could Happen If You Refuse Medical Treatment After an Accident

Certain types of trauma, such as internal injuries and brain injuries, can be asymptomatic at first. If you don’t seek immediate medical attention, you risk developing serious complications down the line. It is advised to err on the side of caution and go to a healthcare provider to rule out hidden injuries after an accident.

In addition to the possible consequences for your health, there are legal reasons why you should seek treatment as early as possible.

Remember, insurance companies are not your friends. Their goal is to protect their bottom line, and they always try to avoid paying fair compensation for NC car accident injury claims.   They are quick to challenge injury claims, and they are glad to suggest that a car accident victim is lying about their injuries, exaggerating their symptoms, or trying to collect now for a pre-accident medical condition that was not caused by the car crash.  If you make a delayed medical treatment claim, the insurer will likely try to argue that you were not seriously injured, or that you only sought medical care later so you could collect money by presenting a fake personal injury claim.  These tactics are common, yet it is terribly insulting for a victim who has honest injuries, and who delayed medical care simply because they hoped they would not need to see a doctor.  

Alternatively, the insurance company may not dispute your injuries but instead argue that the accident didn’t cause your medical condition or that your delay in seeking treatment made it worse.  An NC car crash victim has the “burden of proof” when presenting a personal injury claim.  This means that they must come forward with evidence to prove the true nature and full extent of all injuries.  

When medical care is delayed, insurance adjusters commonly respond by claiming that the delay in treatment suggests that the injuries were not significant, or that treatment was never needed in the first place.  They will also argue that the victim failed to “mitigate their damages”, meaning that they endured more pain by delaying care.  This allows them to suggest that the victim caused his/her own pain, and thus should not be paid for their pain and suffering.  

We often see severe injuries diagnosed days or weeks following a collision.  In these cases, where there is a significant trauma and we later see objective medical evidence showing obvious injury, we have no problem overcoming insurance adjusters’ tactics.  Thus, a delay in treatment does not mean that you have no case!  However, in all high-force impact crashes, occupants of all vehicles should present for a medical evaluation immediately to rule out dangerous latent or internal injuries, and to allow doctors to oversee the diagnosis and treatment of all crash-related injuries. 

What To Do If You Refused Treatment After an Accident and Now Have a Claim

Just because you refused ambulance transport or didn’t go to a doctor after your accident doesn’t automatically mean you are ineligible for compensation. However, you must act fast and take the following steps:

  • Seek immediate medical attention. You can go to your family doctor or another medical provider, but seek medical assistance without further delay.
  • Document your injuries. Your personal injury lawyer will request copies of all medical bills, receipts, records, and any other documentation that could serve as proof of your injuries and related expenses.  We handle all legwork for our clients, and we also carefully analyze all medical records, build the evidence to prove all injuries, and thereby maximize our clients’ injury claim settlements.
  • Use health insurance to pay for all medical care.   Whenever possible, use health insurance for all medical visits.  This protects your credit, opens access to specialists and all treatment options, and by carefully managing health insurance benefits and your personal injury compensation, the use of health insurance can increase your net settlement payout.  
  • Contact a personal injury lawyer.  Personal injury lawyers in North Carolina typically offer free legal consultations, and a full-service firm can typically do this immediately by telephone.  They will review your case, discuss your unique circumstances, and advise whether you’re eligible for compensation. Your lawyer will provide you with a detailed explanation of the benefits that may be available and advise on how to maximize the value of your injury case, even if you choose to handle your case without a lawyer.  

Dealing With a Delayed Medical Treatment Claim? Call Nagle & Associates

At Nagle & Associates, P.A., we have more than 20 years of experience representing accident victims. We know how to overcome the obstacles that we see in delayed medical treatment claims. Call us at (866) 631-2228 today for a free consultation.