If I've Been Injured In An Accident But Do Not Go To The Doctor Because Of COVID-19, Do I Have A Personal Injury Case?
Maryland Insurance companies love to seize on a delay in obtaining medical care as evidence than an individual was in fact not injured. Insurance company attorneys frequently advance this argument in court, and many judges and jurors find it quite persuasive.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has responded to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 health emergency by making it safer to get medical care after an accident.
ORDER NUMBER 20-04-01-01, provides, during the current health emergency:
“A health care practitioner [may] deliver health care services through the use of telecommunications technologies (“telehealth”), as well as audio-only calls or conversations, to a patient at a different physical location than the health care practitioner”.
- There are some limitations. The services so provided must be:
- “Clinically appropriate; and
- Within the scope of practice of the health care practitioner
In compliance “with the same standards of practice that are applicable to the provision of health care services in in–person health care settings”. The provider must document “in a patient’s medical record the health care services provided through telehealth or audio-only calls or conversations, according to the same documentation standards used for in-patient health care services” Moreover “[i]f using audio-only calls or conversations,” the provider mut be able to “ interact with the patient at the time the health care service is provided”.
It is not -strictly speaking- mandatory that an individual see a doctor after having sustained an accidental injury to prevail or receive compensation in a personal injury case. While you don’t have to have a doctor evaluate you, it makes any case based on an injury stronger. The advent of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic has added an additional consideration to this equation. Any individual who pursues compensation for personal injury has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that they sustained an injury and what the effect of that injury called damages was. I'm not aware of any statistics or studies on this subject but based on 25 years of litigating personal injury cases I would state emphatically advise
...a personal injury case where the injury that has been documented by a physician has a much better chance of success then a personal injury case where the alleged injuries have not been independently documented by physician.
Obviously, one should only get medical care or attendance if they have sustained an injury. Equally obviously, medical treatment sought or received for any other purpose is improper. It goes without saying that if you are not injured you don't have a personal injury case. An individual who pursues a course of medical treatment solely for the purpose of creating improving or furthering a personal injury claim is committing an act of fraud.
A related, and frequently asked personal injury question after an accident relates to the timing of medical care. The Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic will impact many Maryland insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits in this regard as well. There is some conventional wisdom- and indeed people are often told- that they have up to 72 hours to see a doctor after having been involved in a motor vehicle accident. There is no law, rule or regulation that I'm aware of that provides for this. Conventional wisdom is often based on common sense. What I've seen over the course of a career as a personal injury attorney is that many times individuals that have sustained injuries to their backs or their necks don't feel the full effect of that injury for 24 to 48 hours. While there is no specific time frame within which one must seek medical care, common sense dictates the sooner the better. If you believe you've sustained an injury you are certainly well within your rights to have a doctor or medical professional evaluate your physical condition.