Georgia law allows injured parties two years to file a personal injury claim. But this does not mean that a person injured in an accident that was not their fault has two years to get medical treatment. In fact, if you don’t get treatment as soon as possible after the accident, and have gaps in ongoing treatment, your personal injury claim might be reduced as a result, or even thrown out of court.
What is a Gap in Treatment?
A gap in treatment is the term commonly used in the insurance industry to describe, quite literally, a gap or break in medical care after being injured in some sort of an accident.
There are two gaps in treatment types:
- A gap after the accident because you did not seek immediate medical attention.
- A break in treatment after seeking medical attention and possibly seeing the doctor several times.
Why a Gap in Treatment Might Affect Your Claim
If you don’t get immediate medical attention the insurance adjuster might use this as “evidence” that the injuries you are claiming are not as bad as you say they are. The same applies to a gap in treatment at some stage after you first visit the hospital or private doctor. The insurance adjuster might also conclude that because there was a gap in treatment, your initial injuries are no longer an issue and you are now seeking treatment for a different reason. If your credibility is challenged, he might suggest that you have subsequently been injured in an accident that was your fault! This might not be true, but it could nevertheless adversely affect your personal injury claim.
However, there are legitimate reasons why you may have a gap – or even several gaps – in treatment.
Genuine Reasons for a Gap in Treatment
Accidents result in all kinds of injuries, some of which may not have immediate repercussions. For instance, you might have a car accident that results in one or more people being transported immediately by ambulance to a hospital. But you feel okay and believe that the cuts, bruises, and muscle pain suffered as a direct result of the crash will heal without medical treatment. When the pain doesn’t go away or you begin to think you might have internal bruising, you eventually go to a doctor or to ER. If the gap in treatment is not very long – maybe just a week or two – this is unlikely to have a detrimental effect. It is when people wait for months that it tends to count against them.
In a different scenario, a person might suffer an injury they are not aware of for some time after the accident. This might affect their eyesight or hearing, or even their memory skills.
In any event, the best way to prove a personal injury claim is to show that you received treatment soon after the accident and then continued to receive the treatment prescribed.
Presuming your doctor wants to continue seeing you, but you skip treatments, there must be a valid reason to avoid this potentially impacting on your claim. Reasons might include:
- You were on holiday or visiting a relative who was ill
- You were sick and unable to keep appointments
- Business commitments made it impossible for you to make regular visits to your doctor
If there is a legitimate reason for missing treatments that will result in “a gap,” let your doctor know. If you have already consulted with a personal injury attorney, let him know too. They might even suggest a way to prevent a break in treatments being regarded as a gap in treatment.
It is also advisable to keep records of all your treatments as well as the medication or therapy you are expected to take or undergo. These records could be invaluable when your claim is filed and goes to court. In fact, documenting everything about your personal injury case is important.
Whether you have a gap in treatment or not, you will need to talk to a good personal injury attorney who will present your case for you. If you live in Georgia, or your accident happened in Georgia, contact the Don Turner Legal Team for advice. We will help you claim the maximum compensation possible.