There are two reasons why you should seek immediate medical attention after an auto accident if you think there is any possibility that you are injured. First, we should all do everything we can to protect and preserve our health. Second, the insurance company, through its claims adjuster, will exploit every opportunity to pay less money for your claim. If you do not seek medical attention, your case may be weakened. My kids love sports. My daughter’s favorite is soccer. She is pretty good at it. One day, I took her to buy new soccer cleats. She picked out a pair that she really liked. They were black, white, and pink, and I could tell she felt like Mia Hamm walking around the store. I paid for them, and we went home. After a few days, I noticed she had not been wearing them to practice. “Where are your new cleats?” I asked. “In my closet,” she said. “Why aren’t you wearing them?” I asked. She replied, “I want them to last forever.”
Now, that might be going too far, but we should be almost as protective of our bodies as she was of those shoes. We want them to last “forever.” Your health is your greatest gift, and taking care of your health is more important than almost anything else. I have never had a client who would voluntarily trade money for their health. If you have any doubt about whether or not you are injured, I recommend that you get a thorough medical examination.
Also, as an accident victim, you have a legal duty to mitigate (reduce) your damages. That means you cannot ignore injuries and leave them untreated. The insurance adjuster will immediately reduce the settlement value of your claim. Even if you have kept him informed of your ongoing pain, he will argue that (1) you did not mitigate your damages and (2) after the accident and before the treatment something else could have occurred that caused your injuries or made them worse. This is not a dirty trick, and it does not make him a bad person. It is what he is obligated to do to effectively do his job.
Although they are generally nice people, insurance adjusters are not objective. Some people think that adjusters are like school teachers or doctors who give an objective evaluation based upon all available information. Performing an objective evaluation is not the job of an insurance adjuster. Insurance adjusters work for the insurance company. Their job is to pay less for each claim, not more. Two of the biggest mistakes people make in injury cases occur when they (1) “wait and see” and (2) misunderstand the insurance adjuster’s role.
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