Lesson 24: If you Need a Doctor, Go to a Doctor, Not a Lawyer

From the Land Mines in Accident Cases section of How You Can Avoid Legal Land Mines by Joseph S. Lyles (2003).

I have seen several automobile accident cases in which the injured person went to a lawyer before seeking medical attention, and I understand why. The victims are concerned about having to deal with huge insurance companies without knowing their rights, and they are worried about creating medical bills that might not be covered by any insurance. They are wise enough to realize that what they do early on in the process can adversely affect the outcome, but there is a problem with this approach.

Anyone making a claim for personal injuries received in a car accident may be faced with a huge wall of skepticism. It will seem that almost everyone involved with documenting your auto accident and providing your medical care is treating you as if you had wanted it to happen. They will suspect you are trying to get something for nothing.

It is unfortunate, but the public in general and insurance companies in particular don’t trust people when they say they were injured in a car wreck unless they have broken bones or bleeding cuts. And, because soft-tissue injuries don’t show up on x-rays, they may question their existence. Unfortunately, only those who have suffered a soft-tissue injury from an accident understand that the pain and loss of mobility are very real.

Therefore, to avoid creating skepticism towards an injury claim, after an accident see either an emergency room physician or a family doctor as soon as possible. Don’t go to your attorney until after at least one visit to a doctor.

The Lesson: Get the facts about your case, including a doctor’s diagnosis of your injury, and then consult an attorney; however, don’t give a statement to an insurance adjuster before you consult an attorney.