An injured party has a duty to minimize the harm caused by a negligent party. This concept, common to contract and tort law, is firmly entrenched in American jurisprudence.
An insurance policy is a contract between two parties, the insurer and the insured. Insurers expect an injured victim to seek medical treatment and obtain a diagnosis immediately following an accident or an injury caused by the negligence of another person or entity. Insurance companies view the failure to seek immediate medical attention as a failure to mitigate the damages. Why?
- An injured plaintiff has a duty and responsibility to receive a diagnosis and treat their injuries, thereby mitigating their injuries and other potential damages; and
- Absent a timely medical diagnosis, an insurance adjuster and claims panel cannot know what actions or activities the claimant has performed since the accident that may have acerbated the original injury.
In my law practice, I have learned injured victims often fail to follow-up with a physician soon after a collision. Some fear a doctor will order tests they are not prepared to pay, taking off from work may pose a problem and others do not want a disruption in their lives. They may self-diagnose, thinking the pain and discomfort will get better over time.
Men, in particular, may be reluctant to seek treatment or the advice of their physicians. The American Academy of Family Physicians found that 92% of men polled in an online survey conducted by Harris Interactive, waited a few days before seeking care. Nearly one-third wait “as long as possible” before they seek the care of a physician.
Delayed Symptoms and the Onset of Pain
Immediately following an accident, blood pressure and adrenalin levels surge. This triggers the hyperactivity of opioids in the brain, which may be responsible for the lack of tenderness and pain generally expected after an injury.
In an interview with The New York Times, Dr. Dennis Charney, a psychiatrist at Yale and director of clinical neuroscience at the National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder states:
“The opioid system of the brain, which can blunt the feeling of pain, is hyperactive…For the brain changes to occur, scientists now say, people usually have to experience the stress as catastrophic, an overwhelming threat to life or safety and one over which they [have] no control… It does not matter if it was…a one-time experience, like being trapped in a hurricane or almost dying in an auto accident…All uncontrollable stress can have the same biological impact.”
When the brain’s chemistry finally returns to the patient’s baseline, varying degrees of discomfort may be experienced. Pain is an indicator that something unusual is occurring in the body. It may be an indication of inflammation or a precursor to a heart attack―but it should never be ignored. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident, our attorneys recommend you consult with a physician as soon as possible after the collision or injury. Many attorneys will refuse to file a claim if the injured person has delayed diagnosis and treatment.
Experienced personal injury attorneys and car accident lawyers in Indianapolis
The car accident lawyers and personal injury attorneys at Ward & Ward Law Firm have more than 85 combined years of experience practicing personal injury, wrongful death and medical malpractice law. Call personal injury lawyer, Charlie Ward, today at 317-639-9501 or toll free at 888-639-9501 for a free consultation.
Ward & Ward Law Firm, Car Accident Lawyers
728 S Meridian St
Indianapolis, IN 46228
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