Medical Treatment

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Common Medical Treatment After an Accident

How Our Durham Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help

If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, you are likely feeling confused, stressed, and concerned about what to do next. The reality of being in a car accident is that your life could be turned upside down. Just yesterday, you were healthy and carefree; today, you are nursing bruises, cuts, and potentially very serious injuries.

Consider your car accident-related injuries as you would any other traumatic injury or illness. As early as possible, ask yourself whether or not you need medical treatment. If you have suffered anything other than very minor injuries, such as light bruising, or if you have persistent aches and pains that won’t go away, it’s a good idea to have yourself checked by a doctor. These symptoms could be a sign of something more serious, and it’s always best to err on the side of caution when it comes to your health and well-being.

If you would like to learn more about the importance of seeking prompt medical attention after a car accident, or if you have questions about your case, contact the Durham personal injury attorneys at Wallace Pierce Law. We offer free initial consultations and are happy to discuss your particular questions and concerns.

Call (919) 887-7892 or contact us online today.

Why You Shouldn’t Delay Medical Treatment After an Accident

One of the most common mistakes accident victims make is to refuse or delay medical treatment. After years of speaking to accident victims, we have discovered that most people delay medical care because of the costs associated with treatment. However, we strongly recommend that, after an accident, you seek medical treatment regardless of the cost, as long as the treatment is reasonable and necessary. Your health and future well-being are the most important things; delaying medical treatment could lead to numerous complications down the line.

If you have been injured in a car accident, it is important to consider what medical attention you may need and to seek that medical treatment as soon as possible. If you or anyone else at the scene of the accident needs emergency medical care, call 911.

Seeking medical treatment immediately after your accident is important for the following reasons:

  • Your injuries need to be treated as soon as possible
  • Showing a causal connection between the accident and your injuries is more difficult if you have delayed seeking medical treatment
  • Failing to seek medical treatment could result in a failure to mitigate damages

While treatment may be expensive, there are several options that may provide you with a way to receive treatment on a lien basis, which would require no money upfront. Additionally, our Durham car accident lawyers can help you file a personal injury claim against the at-fault party so that you can work to receive compensation for all of your medical costs.

How to Get the Medical Care You Need

If your vehicle has been damaged or destroyed in the accident, it is important to seek the assistance of your friends and family to get to and from your medical appointments. If your friends or family are unable to assist you, consider using a taxi, rideshare service (like Uber or Lyft), or purchasing a bus pass in order to get to your appointments. However, please be sure to keep your receipts and to track your mileage and appointment duration so that you may claim out-of-pocket expenses.

If you have health insurance—whether it is private health insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, TriCare, or a State Employees’ Health Plan—we recommend that you give this information to your medical provider when you are being treated. If you do not have health insurance, the medical provider who is treating your injuries will likely bill you directly or claim a lien on the treatment rendered.

Prompt Medical Treatment Is Important for Your Personal Injury Claim

It is essential to remember that the medical treatment you receive for your accident is the most important evidence in your personal injury claim. Your medical treatment will be reviewed, analyzed, audited, and even debated by the insurance company and their medical experts when considering your personal injury claim’s value. As such, it is paramount to ensure that each and every aspect of your medical care is as appropriate and reasonable as possible.

Important note: Your medical care is the fuel in your personal injury case’s gas tank. It is not only important to put lots of fuel in your tank, but it is also vital to put the right kind of fuel in the case’s tank.

Remember: if you need treatment, seek treatment. Only a licensed medical professional can properly diagnose your injuries and delaying your treatment and recovery could actually cause your injuries to worsen.

What If I Don’t Have Health Insurance?

There are many things to be concerned about after an accident; one of the most notable among them is the decision to seek medical care even though you do not have health insurance. While your principal concern is how you will afford the expensive medical treatment, consider the cost of not seeking medical treatment and delaying your recovery.

In most situations, there are two ways to seek medical treatment without health insurance:

  • Receive the treatment and the medical provider will bill you
  • Receive the treatment and the medical provider will claim a medical lien

Regardless, your medical treatment without health insurance under North Carolina Rule of Evidence 414 may actually be more beneficial to your overall recovery than medical treatment paid by a health insurance company.

Should I Use My Health Insurance?

Generally speaking, you should use your health insurance to pay for accident-related medical treatment. However, this does not mean that the medical provider is obligated to bill your health insurance. It is not uncommon for accident victims who provide their Medicaid information when receiving medical care to later discover that the medical provider did not bill Medicaid. Medical providers are exceptionally clever when it comes to getting paid for their services.

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Why Would a Medical Provider Not Bill My Health Insurance?

  • First, a medical provider may not be obligated to bill your health insurance
  • Second, a medical provider may receive more money from you if they refrain from billing your health insurance and claim a medical or physician lien

While this may be surprising, consider what the medical provider will likely receive from the Division of Medical Assistance (Medicaid) as payment for services rendered on a $1,000.00 bill. The answer is rather surprising. Depending on the provider, Medicaid may pay a few hundred dollars at most on their $1,000.00 bill, the reason being that Medicaid has negotiated significant cuts with the medical providers to keep costs low.

On the flip side, a medical provider who refrains from billing Medicaid and receiving a significant cut to their $1,000.00 bill can claim a medical lien and seek reimbursement for the entire $1,000.00 bill. While no one wants to pay more for the same treatment, being able to claim $1,000.00 in damages as opposed to a few hundred dollars may actually be more beneficial to your claim for damages.

However, this does not mean that you should refuse to use your health insurance. Most insurance companies will refrain or delay settlement negotiations with an accident victim until it has been determined whether the victim has health insurance or not. Even if you do not, the insurance company may request that you sign an affidavit of no health insurance. An affidavit of no health insurance is a sworn statement by an accident victim attesting to the fact that they have no health insurance.

How Long Is Too Long After the Accident to See a Doctor?

Generally, in any accident claim involving an individual who has not received some kind of medical treatment within the first 7 to 10 days, it will be difficult to make a strong claim and/or prove damages. However, even in those instances where you may feel you do not need emergency medical care, you should still call your primary care physician and make an appointment. If you have called your primary care physician and your appointment is longer than two weeks away, you should seriously consider visiting urgent care or finding another available primary care physician for an earlier appointment.

This general rule does not mean that you should forego or refrain from seeking medical treatment if you are unable to receive medical care within the first 7 to 10 days after an accident. There are many exceptions to and factors that affect this general rule.

Follow All Doctors’ Orders

After the accident and while seeking medical treatment, it is key to follow your doctor’s instructions. If your physician recommends that you should not work while recovering, you should refrain from working. You should always follow up or adhere to the treatment plan. If your physician recommends that you follow up in a week, or that you receive physical therapy three times a week for four weeks, it is important that you do so. Failing to follow your doctor’s instructions will likely be used against you when you pursue your personal injury claim.

If your follow-up is in several weeks, and you are feeling worse before that appointment, do not hesitate to go back sooner. While following your doctor’s advice is always recommended, consider your pain and injuries and feel free to seek additional care when needed.

Be Careful What You Say About Your Case to Your Doctor

As a practical piece of advice, your medical providers are treating your medical concerns and tend to be unconcerned by the legal aspects of your personal injury case. As such, be careful when discussing the facts and circumstances related to your accident. Far too often, we see clients’ medical records that contain notes from the doctor attempting to describe the mechanics of the car accident but failing to do so accurately. As a precaution, be careful when describing the accident to your doctor and make sure all the details you share are completely accurate.

Ask yourself: Is it important that your doctor knows each and every fact related to the mechanics of your accident, or is it essential that they only know the fact that you were rear-ended and suffered injuries as a result?

Treatment Mistakes to Avoid

Through years of dealing with insurance adjusters and evaluating our clients’ medical records, we’ve noticed some common mistakes accident victims make.

Some of these common mistakes include:

  • Over-treating (continuing to seek treatment past what is deemed reasonable and necessary to reach your maximum medical improvement)
  • Double treating (treating with two or more similar providers for the same injuries)
  • Missing appointments (constantly canceling your scheduled appointments or not showing up to scheduled appointments)
  • Having large gaps in treatment (waiting too long to seek medical treatment or having lengthy gaps between scheduled appointments)
  • Not following doctor’s orders (not following up when scheduled, not using prescriptions per instruction, not utilizing referrals to specialists as needed, and not complying with home exercise plans)

These mistakes can not only delay your recovery but can also severely harm your personal injury case.

If you have any questions or concerns about medical treatment after a car accident in Durham or anywhere in North Carolina, reach out to Wallace Pierce Law for a free consultation with our personal injury lawyers.

Contact us at (919) 887-7892 or submit a free case evaluation form to get started.

Hear What Our Clients Have to Say

  • “When my 4-year old son and I were involved in a terrible head-on collision, I wasn't sure where to turn. Wallace Pierce has been great showing me the way!”

    - Mary P.
  • “Richard Dingus is a great attorney! And I think thee best, serving in the state of North Carolina. I would recommend him for injury and bodily claim any day.”

    - Isaac B.
  • “They were concerned not only about getting our vehicle replaced, but more importantly my kid’s full recovery.”

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