The “Gap In Treatment” Issue In Personal Injury Cases

People often make a basic mistake when they have been injured. They think they should treat their medical care like they always do.  For many people that means they try to “tough it out.” Injured people don’t often understand that this makes the insurance company happy. That company will use your actions in the medical world against you.

What is a Gap in Treatment?

Insurance companies deny and shortchange personal injury claims when the records show a delayed medical treatment. The term “Gap in Treatment”  is insurance industry lingo.  It means there has been a long period of time between an injury and when you go to the doctor or hospital.  Or alternatively, a long delay between one medical visit and the next. When they see such a gap insurance adjusters are taught to assert that the medical care must not be caused by the accident and therefore they have no responsibility .

We have seen dozens, maybe hundreds, of times where people who just did not think seeing a doctor was important get mistreated by the liability insurance company.

Why a Gap in Treatment Might Affect Your Claim

In a situation where you don’t get immediate medical attention  insurance adjusters can  assert this as proof that the injuries you are treating of claiming in the case are less severe than you say.  The same argument is made when after you first visit the hospital or private doctor you delay or don’t follow their direction to get follow-up care.   When there is a gap in treatment, we will often hear that it is not your initial injuries that are at issue.   Adjusters are taught to assert you are now seeking treatment for a different reason.  They will at times make up the argument that you “must have”  had a subsequent injury that was your own fault.  It does not matter to them whether it is true or not.  These types of arguments can cause your personal injury damages claim to be valued less in settlement or even after trial.

There are mores than a few reason that injured people have one or more gaps in treatment that are in no way nefarious.

A Gap In Treatment Often Happens For Legitimate Reasons

Car crashes, truck collisionsproduct injuries, bike wrecks and other injury accidents result in all kinds of damage to people’s bodies.   Some is obvious and some injuries do not appear immediately.  Or some may not be sensed right away.

For example, you might have been in a car accident where people were transported immediately by ambulance to a hospital.  At the scene you may feel like you do not need treatment. IN your experience, whatever muscle pain or cuts and bruises and such that you see seem like they will heal without medical treatment.  We have seen many times though when a person in that situation finds  the pain doesn’t go away.  Or as they adrenaline wears off they think there might be something worse that is wrong.  Eventually, that night the next day or a few days later they you eventually go to a doctor, urgent care or even the emergency room. If the gap in treatment is not very long – maybe just a week or two – this is unlikely to have a detrimental effect. It is when people wait for weeks or even months that it causes real problems.

Sometimes the real injury is masked by another injury

We also see where one injury hurts more initially and gets your main attention while the serious injury to a cervical disk or a tendon that doesn’t hurt as much doesn’t get noticed until the acute pain calms down weeks later.   One good example is a traumatic brain injury, that is a concussion, can have this type of delayed impact.  This type of injury may cause headaches and it may not.  It can impact memory, behavior, balance, eyesight or hearing.

Communicate with your medical professional and your attorney

If you have a legitimate reason for missing care try to make sure the medical records document that issue as well.  It can be things like required business travel, the need to see family, a different illness or even the inability to afford the needed care.   If there is a legitimate reason for missing treatments that causes a gap in treatment, let your doctor know. And let your personal injury attorney’s office know what is happening,. We often have things to suggest that can help reduce the way such a gap is treated in the claim process.

Medical Care is Different In An Injury Case Setting

Get the treatment you need in an injury case.  Follow your doctors orders.   You will eliminate one set of potential issues if you seek medical care right away and follow-up as required.  Your medical documentation is a very important part of any personal injury claim.

Don’t tough it out when it comes to medical care if you have a personal injury claim.  To protect yourself against abuses by liability insurance companies you need to make a complete record pf the course of your injury over time.  The best way to do that is to make sure your medical records reflect changes.

This will sometimes mean you will need to see your doctor more than you would for other similar injuries.  The key is that the records be accurate.  Don’t ever exaggerate or overstate the issue.  But don’t understate it either.  In fact, it is far more often that we have seen people minimize the nature of their problems.  Most people don’t like to complain and therefore put too positive of a spin on their medical reports.  One way to think about this is that your job is to explain your symptoms not complain about your injuries.

But go to the urgent care emergency room or your family doctor as soon as possible after an accident injury. Get an evaluation. Report every problem you experience.  protect yourself and take the “gap” argument away from the insurance adjuster and the company.

The Attorneys Of Hepworth Holzer Are Here For You

We are happy to offer a free case evaluation and review at your convenience:  Just call, e-mail or message us.

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