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Patience for Patients: Wait to Settle Your Accident Claim

Christmas feverIt’s November 28. If you’re anything like some of us here at the office, you’ve been waiting for this day all November long. That’s right—it’s the Monday after Thanksgiving, so that means it’s socially acceptable to put up as many Christmas decorations as you want! It’s time to buy Santa hats and put up the Christmas tree while you’re still munching on your turkey leftovers.

For some crazy Christmas lovers, the wait for Christmas began as early as December 26 of last year. But they’ll always tell you it’s worth the wait.

It’s important to have that same patience for an accident claim.

Don’t Delay: See a Doctor

Car Accident - Seek Medical TreatmentAfter a car accident, our first instinct is to minimize the situation. We’re overwhelmed by what just happened and relieved that we and our passengers appear to be okay. But even if you believe you’re okay, it’s crucially important to see a doctor as soon as possible.

You should have patience for actually filing a claim, but you should never delay in seeking medical care. The longer you wait to seek medical care, the harder it will be to prove that your injuries are actually the result of the accident. You’ll also be putting your health at higher risk by not being checked out right away.

Even doctors can’t predict with 100% certainty how long it will take for you to make a full recovery. Immediately following an accident, when you seek treatment, medical professionals will be assessing your injuries, creating a treatment plan, and estimating how long it will take to make a recovery. If you’re not expected to ever achieve full recovery, the doctors will identify the point at which you’re not expected to make further improvement. That point is called Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI).

Don’t Rush: Wait to File a Claim

Wait to file a claim after a car accidentMany Indiana residents don’t realize just how much time they are given to file a personal injury lawsuit. In fact, anyone injured in an accident in Indiana has two years in which to file suit, and minors have even longer than that (up to two years following their eighteenth birthday).

You want to avoid settling with the insurance company too soon. If you agree to a low settlement at the beginning, you’ll waive your right to seek additional damages if your injuries prove to be worse than you thought. That’s one reason why it is so important to see a doctor.

Indiana is a fault state where the Comparative Fault Act applies. That means that you have a choice of using your own insurance or using the at-fault driver’s insurance to cover accident-related causes. However, the at-fault party’s insurance won’t immediately start paying for your bills. You should keep careful records of all treatments and costs incurred after an accident, and then the at-fault driver’s insurance will later reimburse you.

This is another reason why you should wait to file a claim. If you file too early, you’ll only be asking the at-fault driver’s insurance company to pay for the damages you’re currently aware of. More injuries or damages might show up later. It’s important to wait until you’re finished with treatment and you’ve reached MMI before seeking reimbursement. If your MMI doesn’t reach 100% of the health you experienced before the accident, you may be able to seek additional damages for future medical costs and/or pain and suffering.

Ask for Help

If you can’t afford to cover your medical bills before you’ve reached MMI, you can file a claim with your own insurance if you currently carry Medical Payments Coverage (Med Pay). Med Pay covers accident-related medical bills up to the policy limits, no matter who caused the accident. Later, a claim can be filed against the at-fault driver’s insurance company to recover those costs.

In the aftermath of an accident, it can be difficult to remember where you should have patience and where you should be proactive in getting the results you want. If you hire a personal injury attorney, your lawyer will take on the task of communicating with the insurance company, assembling all the necessary records, and helping you pursue realistic compensation.

Whether or not you decide to seek the help of a personal injury lawyer to handle your claim, it’s important to remember:

  • After an accident (no matter who appears to be at fault), don’t wait more than three days to seek medical treatment, even for minor injuries.
  • Continue recommended treatment until you have been either released by a doctor or have reached MMI.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident, call Hensley Legal Group today
for a free, no-obligation consultation.