After sustaining an injury in a slip and fall accident, auto accident or workplace accident, many injury victims are hesitant to seek medical treatment. For some, the cost of medical treatment is prohibitive. Others may feel that their injuries are not serious enough. Others are concerned that seeking medial treatment will increase insurance premiums and avoid going to the doctor unless absolutely necessary. However, only qualified medical professionals can accurately diagnose and treat injuries. This is important both to ensure the best recovery possible and also to protect a victim's right to compensation for their injuries. The experienced Clearwater personal injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group encourage anyone injured in an accident to seek a medical diagnosis and treatment as soon as possible to ensure both the best possible recovery from your injuries—and the best possible legal recovery.
The Medical Complications Associated With Delayed Diagnoses
In general, injuries which are timely diagnosed and treated tend to have better outcomes than injuries with delays in diagnosis or treatment. The Journal of the American College of Surgeons published a study which examined admission records at a European trauma center over a four year period. Of the delayed diagnoses identified, more than half resulted in a delay in treatment. Nearly one in four of these patients required surgery. Even more concerning is that more than half of the delayed diagnoses could have been detected simply by reevaluating the patient.
Other studies have examined the effect of delayed diagnoses on specific types of traumatic injuries. For example, the Journal of Trauma and Injury reported that patients often experience a delay in treatment of occult hip fractures, which are difficult to diagnose by x-ray. The researchers found that patients who experienced a delay in having their hip fracture diagnoses were more likely to have a displacement of the bone. These patients were also nearly three times as likely to require surgery. Surgery exposes patients to an entirely separate set of potential complications, such as allergic reactions to anesthesia, infection, blood transfusions, and other dangers.
In addition, Surgery Today reported on the effects of delayed treatment on children who had suffered perforation of the stomach or bowels as a result of an injury to the abdomen, caused mostly by falls and motor vehicle accidents. The study found that children who were diagnosed quickly had reduced chances of experiencing complications as a result of their injuries. Because these injuries were fatal for nearly ten percent of patients, minimizing the risk of complications was extremely important in victims’ survival. Both adults and children can experience this type of blunt force abdominal trauma in a car accident, a workplace accident, a slip and fall, or other types of accidents.
These are only a few of many medical studies conducted over decades of research that found better outcomes for trauma patients who have early diagnosis and treatment. But the improved medical outcome is only one of the crucial reasons why injury victims should seek immediate medical attention. Timely treatment can also prevent an unfavorable legal outcome in a personal injury case.
The Legal Complications of Delayed Diagnosis
When an injury is caused by a negligent driver, unsafe working conditions, or a hazardous consumer good, victims often have the right to compensation for the financial losses they incur as a result of the accident. These losses can include property damage, lost wages, medical bills, and other documented losses attributable to the injury. Many times, the greatest component of a personal injury award is the victim's pain and suffering.
Insurance claim adjusters often focus on challenging pain and suffering awards as a result. Many adjusters will claim that the victim's pain was caused by pre-existing conditions, underlying injuries, or other factors beyond the defendant's control. If a victim's own actions contributed to his or her pain and suffering, this can be grounds for reducing an award for it.
In many cases, a delay in diagnosis or treatment increases the victim's pain and suffering. Some delays can even limit the treatment options available to the victim. In either event, the insurance claim adjuster is likely to argue the victim made his or her pain and suffering worse by delaying necessary medical treatment. A claims adjuster can, therefore, reduce the value of the victim's claim to only that pain and suffering which was caused by the defendant's negligence - not that caused by the delay in treatment. This also opens the door for the adjuster to challenge other aspects of the claim. For example, if the victim required surgery, the adjuster may claim that this was an avoidable expense that only became necessary because the victim delayed treatment. The best way to avoid this devaluation of a personal injury claim is to seek immediate medical attention and follow all treatment recommendations from health care providers. This can prevent legal challenges that ultimately result in a lower settlement offer or jury verdict for an injured victim who would otherwise be entitled to recover more compensation.
Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys to Aggressively Advocate for Your Legal Right to Compensation
Florida law protects the rights of injury victims to be compensated for their medical bills. They are also legally entitled to be compensated for all other financial losses attributable to a defendant's negligence. Because of this, it is important for injury victims to access all necessary medical treatment without delay. The Dolman Law Group has years of experience protecting the rights of personal injury victims in the Clearwater area. Call us at (727) 451-6900 to set up a free consultation with a personal injury attorney who can advocate for your rights.