By Dennis L. Plank, Attorney
The consequences of car accidents can range from temporary bruises or broken bones to life-changing injuries like spinal cord damage. But physical harm is just one type of injury. There can also be financial suffering from lost wages and emotional pain that is often harder to quantify.
The long-lasting impact of these accidents can qualify victims for personal injury lawsuits in Pennsylvania, but unfortunately, getting fair compensation is not usually easy. However, drivers in Lancaster County can help their case with two critical steps after a collision: consulting a personal injury attorney and consulting a doctor.
Personal Injury Isn’t Always Clear
Some people may assume they are fine after an accident. There is a biological reason for this: the body can respond to trauma by releasing endorphins that reduce pain and delay the onset of injury symptoms. However, even seemingly minor accidents can involve jarring stops that cause the kind of injuries that can manifest days or weeks later. Accidents can also cause serious internal injuries that get worse over time without treatment. Doctor visits after an accident–any accident–can help evaluate obvious injuries and find hidden injuries before they become dangerous.
The Fault for the Accident Isn’t Always Clear
Pennsylvania is a “no-fault” auto insurance state. That means each party’s insurance contributes, as much as coverage limits allow, to pay for lost wages and medical expenses, regardless of who is at fault. Still, state laws do allow drivers to opt-out of the no-fault system if they choose the right coverage policy. Limited tort coverage insurance costs less but limits the rights individuals and their families have to seek compensation for injuries caused by other drivers. Injured parties can’t seek financial compensation unless injuries meet a certain threshold. Full tort coverage is an insurance option that gives individuals full compensation rights from the driver at fault in an accident, including medical expenses, lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering from non-monetary damages. Pennsylvania law allows the court to reduce damages if juries determine a victim was partially at fault for the accident. A Lancaster personal injury attorney can gather evidence necessary to pursue a claim against an at-fault driver successfully.
Personal Injury Cases Depend on Timely Doctor Visits
After an accident, it’s critical to get timely medical attention. An immediate exam not only detects hidden injuries, but it also goes a long way to increase the chance of fair insurance compensation. After an accident, the rule of thumb is to see a doctor within 72 hours. Even when there are no apparent injuries, this is crucial. Without exam records, an insurance company may argue that the accident wasn’t bad enough to justify a payout or claim that injuries were the result of another event or pre-existing condition. Just because there are no broken bones or open wounds does not mean there is no injury. Waiting to see a doctor until symptoms appear can result in a significant reduction in compensation.
Medical Records are Especially Important
Without medical records, it’s hard for an injured person to prove to insurance companies that their injuries resulted from a traffic collision. Potentially injured parties must share all details of the accident with the physician and all symptoms, even if they seem vague or minor. When dealing with the aftermath of an accident, it’s very important to follow the doctor’s orders and keep all appointments. Don’t “tough it out.” A visit to a physician will provide vital documentation that captures the nature of the accident, injury symptoms, test results, x-rays, and recommended treatment. All of these records can help a Lancaster personal injury attorney successfully fight for compensation for their clients. The patient should also keep records of every doctor visit, problems associated with their injury, and prescribed medications or devices (such as braces or crutches). Although nothing should be left out of the records, it is also essential to avoid exaggeration or suppress past medical history. Even small inconsistencies can damage the injured party’s credibility.
A Good Lawyer Makes a Difference
Getting a fair settlement is difficult, so it is wise to get help. An experienced personal injury attorney can help prove fault and establish liability, gather evidence and witnesses to support claims, calculate and document losses, and much more. A personal injury lawyer can help recover money lost from current and future medical bills, lost income, and even compensation for the more challenging to quantify emotional and mental trauma. Insurance companies often prefer to negotiate a settlement outside of court because it is often faster and less expensive. Still, insurance companies often look for reasons to reject claims, so having a lawyer can help you fight for your rights. Contact us today for a free consultation with an experienced Lancaster personal injury lawyer to help recover all fair and deserved compensation.