There’s always a lot to do after sustaining a sudden injury. If you’re involved in a car accident, for example, you might have to find alternative transportation, get a coworker to cover your shift, and arrange child care. With so much on your plate, it’s tempting to put off your medical evaluation, especially if your symptoms seem manageable. Unfortunately, choosing to delay your doctor’s visit could put both your health and your personal injury claim in jeopardy.
Some injuries, such as internal bleeding and brain trauma, can present latent or minor symptoms despite their critical nature. Under many circumstances, getting an early diagnosis leads to a more favorable prognosis.
Besides protecting your health, visiting a physician right away can also strengthen your personal injury claim. Your injuries will be officially documented, and that documentation will serve as essential evidence to prove causation and damages. If you put off the evaluation for too long, the insurance company might say that your injuries were caused by something else. Alternatively, the adjuster may argue that you couldn’t have suffered the injuries you’re claiming because immediate medical care would have been necessary. The bottom line: Failing to seek a prompt diagnosis could lead to a dispute that has the potential to threaten your claim.
How Soon Should I Visit a Doctor After Suffering a Personal Injury?
The best time to visit a doctor is immediately after you sustain the injury. Going directly from the accident scene to a hospital or clinic is always a good idea; otherwise, you should certainly seek medical attention within 48 hours no matter how minor your injury seems to be. If more than 48 hours have passed since your injury, go to a doctor right away.
California Is a Pure Comparative Fault State
When it comes to negligence claims, California follows a pure comparative fault rule. That means your final settlement or verdict may be reduced by your own percentage of fault. Even if you weren’t responsible for the accident in any way, you could still be found partially liable for a percentage of your damages if you postponed seeking medical care.
How Soon Should I Contact an Attorney After Suffering a Personal Injury?
The first appointment you schedule following an accident should be with a doctor, and the second should be with a personal injury attorney. Meeting with a seasoned lawyer right away will give your legal team the opportunity to conduct the investigation while time-sensitive evidence is still available.
There’s also a deadline for filing personal injury lawsuits. If a settlement cannot be reached, your only option for pursuing compensation might be to file suit, but if the applicable statute of limitations has passed, the judge will almost certainly dismiss your case.
Finally, it’s fairly easy to jeopardize your claim inadvertently if you attempt to navigate the proceedings alone. The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner you can hand over the logistics of the case and focus on your health.
If you work with a lawyer from day one, you may be less likely to make a critical mistake that causes the settlement negotiations to fall through. Some of the most common mistakes made by personal injury claimants include:
- Accepting blame for the accident;
- Giving a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster;
- Posting about the case or the resulting injuries on social media;
- Failing to follow their doctor’s orders;
- Failing to track all damages;
- Commencing the negotiations before reaching maximum medical improvement; and
- Letting the insurance adjuster manipulate them into accepting an unfair settlement.
What Else Should I Do in the Days and Weeks Following an Accident?
Although visiting a doctor and consulting with an attorney should be your top priorities, there are other steps you should take to strengthen your claim. Examples include:
- Start a Personal Injury Journal: First, copy over all the information you gathered at the scene so it’s in one convenient place. Then, write down everything you remember about the accident. Finally, write daily entries in which you detail how the injuries are affecting your everyday life. Describe any symptoms you notice, how long they last, and how frequently they occur. You should also track all doctor’s appointments as well as the overall recovery process. These entries may help your attorney prove non-economic damages such as emotional distress, loss of enjoyment in life, and pain and suffering.
- Track All Expenses: Save all records, receipts, and invoices that document the costs stemming from the accident. This might include medical bills, insurance statements, pharmacy receipts, home care invoices, paystubs tracking missed work, quotes for repairing any property damage, and invoices for domestic help like meal preparation and housekeeping.
- Deactivate Your Social Media Accounts: The insurance adjuster might use your social media content to dispute liability or damages. For example, if you post a photo of you with friends taken after the accident, it might be used to challenge the severity of your injury. By temporarily disabling your accounts, the insurance adjuster may not be able to access such content.
How Long Does It Take to Resolve a Personal Injury Case?
Depending on the circumstances, it could take a few months to well over a year to resolve your case. The total duration of the proceedings will depend on a variety of factors including:
- The severity of your injuries and the time it takes to reach maximum medical improvement;
- Whether there’s a liability or damages dispute;
- The strength of the available evidence;
- Whether the case goes to trial;
- Whether the insurance adjuster is cooperative; and
- The overall complexity of the case.
Discuss Your Claim with a Personal Injury Attorney in Long Beach
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you sustained injuries through no fault of your own, contact the Law Office of Michael D. Waks. Michael has been representing accident victims and their loved ones for more than three decades. He won’t charge any attorney’s fees unless he wins your case, so you’ve got nothing to lose by scheduling a consultation. Call (562) 206-1939 or fill out our Contact Form to set up a free case review with a personal injury lawyer in Long Beach.
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