There are many good reasons why it’s important to seek medical attention immediately following a motor vehicle accident.
First and foremost, the goal is to protect your health. When there are obvious signs of trauma – bleeding, broken bones, lacerations, cuts and bruising – most people have no problem seeking medical assistance. However, there is reticence when injuries aren’t readily apparent. People may feel fine. But the reality is, there are a number of conditions (concussion, whiplash, even traumatic brain injury) which may not be immediately apparent. It’s best to seek treatment, as those involved in the crash may not be in the best position to judge the full extent of possible injuries.
Secondly, it’s important from a legal standpoint. Seeking a check-up from a doctor provides an important medical record that may be later relied upon in the event you choose to file a lawsuit for personal injury. It may weaken a defendant’s argument that plaintiff injuries were not related to the crash or the impact was not serious enough to warrant concern by plaintiff.
New York City personal injury attorneys know the more medical documentation exists, the better your case. In a crash case, it’s plaintiff who bears burden of proof, and medical records provide unbiased, written documentation of your condition immediately following the accident. That can prove invaluable in negotiations with the insurance company or, if necessary, at trial.
In the recent case of Kester v. Sendoya, before the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, a plaintiff who failed to seek immediate medical treatment following a crash faced an uphill battle in later proving her injury claim.
The accident occurred in February 2010. However, it was not until four months later she sought treatment for her shoulder, which she said was caused by the crash. She may well have been telling the truth, as it’s not uncommon for symptoms of musculoskeletal injuries to take days or weeks to fully manifest. However, four months is a long time to wait for treatment, and a lot can happen in that span. It provided ample opportunity for defense to interject doubt into her claim of causation.
When she finally did seek treatment, physicians conducted a series of tests, and discovered evidence of shoulder injury.
In court, defendant argued the condition was more degenerative in nature, and denied the injury was causally related to the crash. Unfortunately, plaintiff had no medical records in the immediate aftermath of the wreck to back her claim. Thus, the trial court granted summary judgment to defendant.
On appeal, the appellate court ruled, “Absent any evidence of contemporaneous, post-accident treatment or evaluation of plaintiff’s shoulder, she failed to raise an issue of fact as to whether her shoulder condition was causally related to the (crash).”
The grant of summary judgment favoring defendant was affirmed.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
Kester v. Sendoya, Dec. 2, 2014, New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department
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Travelers v. Moore – Company Liability for Off-Duty Employee Drivers, Sept. 12, 2014, New York City Car Accident Lawyer Blog