It goes without saying that your health is important, and seeing a doctor is critical for that reason alone. Even if you feel fine, you might have injuries that aren’t obvious yet (but will be later). A doctor can help spot them before they get worse.
But seeing a doctor very soon after an auto accident (or any other injury caused by negligence) is also important because it can fundamentally impact your claim to financial compensation.
If you’ve been injured because of someone else’s negligence (for example, negligent driving, dangerous property conditions, etc.), Georgia law entitles you to financial compensation for your damages. But collecting that compensation requires proof of damages.
“Proving an injury” might sound complicated, fussy, or like it’s more trouble than it’s worth. But the truth is: (A) it isn’t that much trouble — a simple doctor’s visit may be all it takes for a diagnosis, and (B) your claim could be worth a much larger dollar amount than you realize.
In the sections to follow, we explain:
“Burden of proof” is a term you’ve probably heard in a hundred TV shows and movies, usually in the context of criminal law (e.g. “the government must prove guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt!”).
But plaintiffs (the legal term for injury victims who claim compensation) have a burden of proof too.
In other words, as the plaintiff, you must be able to prove that you suffered injuries. The law doesn’t require the defendant to prove anything, so your whole case hinges on whether you can offer some proof. (Don’t worry, in a non-criminal case, the burden is much lower than “beyond a shadow of a doubt.”)
Having medical records, such as a documented doctor’s visit and a diagnosis, is the best way to meet this burden. It puts you in the best possible position to recover the largest amount of money possible. And at M. Austin Jackson Attorney at Law, that’s what we’re all about: getting our clients the largest amount of money available to them.
The sooner you see a doctor after your accident, the more credible your medical evidence will be.
Succeeding with a personal injury claim in Georgia requires that you establish four “elements”:
This final element is why medical evidence is so important. A personal injury claim is just that — you’re claiming to be injured. Because injuries are inherently medical, you need some medical proof to back that claim up.
If you hire us as your Augusta personal injury lawyers, we can argue all of these elements for you. But without medical records, satisfying that last element becomes very difficult — and in some cases, impossible.
You might be surprised. Seeing a doctor isn’t always as expensive as you might believe. And in light of the importance of medical evidence to a personal injury claim, it’s worth it.
If you find yourself in a medical emergency, you will be given the care you need at an Emergency Department regardless of your financial situation — even if you don’t have insurance.
In less emergent situations, an urgent care center might be an option, though we always urge you to see a licensed Medical Doctor whenever possible. (Some urgent care centers make M.D.s available to walk-in patients.)
Check with your employer or your insurance policy to determine what your copay might be. If you don’t have insurance, there may be medical services in your area that offer reduced costs of care for the uninsured.
At the end of the day, remember this: your personal injury claim could be worth much more than the cost of seeking medical care. And without medical evidence, your claim might be very difficult or even impossible to win. It’s important to balance those interests before assuming that medical care isn’t affordable.
In addition to medical documentation, you should also try to gather the following forms of evidence whenever possible. They can help bolster your personal injury claim.
While we encourage you to collect all these things, none of them can supplant the importance of medical evidence in personal injury cases.
While medical evidence is extremely valuable to a personal injury claim, please don’t conclude that your case is hopeless without it.
Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, you might still be able to bring a claim without it. You should never make conclusions about your legal rights or options for relief until you’ve spoken with an experienced personal injury lawyer in your jurisdiction.
Alternatively, it might not be too late for you to seek medical attention now. In our many years of personal injury advocacy, we have seen numerous instances of injuries that take a long time to manifest. If you have reason to believe that you might have a personal injury claim, don’t hesitate to see a doctor right away.
At M. Austin Jackson Attorney at Law, we fight hard to get our clients the compensation they deserve. That means maximizing your compensation and demanding every penny you’re owed.
We’ve been able to get big results for many of our clients, often without requiring anyone to go to court (though we’re always willing to take a claim to trial if need be).
If you have questions about the importance of medical evidence in a personal injury case, or if you simply want to discuss your injury and learn more about your options, please contact us for a FREE case evaluation.
You can talk to one of our experienced August personal injury attorneys for free, with no obligations whatsoever, during a complimentary case review. And if you hire us, you won’t have to pay us anything unless and until we get you money. Our fee will only be a portion of your total recovery. So there’s nothing to lose. Give us a call today: 706-724-2661 or contact us online right away.