One thing that I see frequently enough to merit attention is the person who delays first seeking medical care after they are involved in an accident. I discuss the possible impacts on a claim where someone waits too long to get medical treatment after a car accident in another Guide. The bottom line is, and suffice it to say for our purposes here, if you think you were hurt in a car accident, prudence and common sense dictate that you see a doctor quickly, whether that's the emergency room that day, or the following morning, or your primary care doctor within 48 hours. If you had an automobile accident, and you did not sustain personal injury- and hopefully you did not - there's no need to see a doctor.
Another common mistake is the failure to provide an accurate medical history. In the emergency room, particularly in a triage setting, there is unlikely to be a detailed inquiry into one's medical history. The issue comes up more commonly if an injured person has been prescribed a course of physical therapy, or where their recovery is being overseen by a pain management, physical medicine or rehabilitation physician. The initial evaluation in these settings is typically more involved, and questions typically come up regarding medical history, prior injuries, serious medical conditions an the like.
In these situations, it is vitally important that you, the patient, give a full and complete medical history.
If you've been involved in a previous motor vehicle accident, you should let the doctor know this. If you've heard the affected body part before, you should let the doctor know this. I believe it's a fairly common perception that someone who has been inured before cannot recover if they are injured again, or will recover less. For example, imagine someone who injured their neck in an accident ten years ago, recovers fully, seeks out no additional medical care, and then has another automobile accident where they sustained injuries to their neck. Individuals in these situations are sometimes preoccupied with the notion that the prior injury it is somehow going to affect the validity of their claim for this second accident. Let me be perfectly clear.
The mere existence of a prior, remote accident is never going to affect the validity of a current accident claim.
This is simply not the case. If you had a prior injury, and made a full recovery, and were receiving no ongoing treatment, and had not been assessed a permanency rating or found to have had a permanent injury, then a new accident claim, subsequent in time, where are you injured the same body part, is not going to be affected in the least by the mere existence of a prior injury to that same body part.
What can affect the new claim for the new case, and greatly so, is if you fail to give a complete medical history to the doctor.
If you are asked on the record at deposition or at trial if you had ever hurt the inured body part before, and you aren't honest about that, you can imagine this is not going to have a positive effect on your current claim.These events absolutely can have a huge impact on your new case. Personal injury defense attorneys are going to seize upon these events. They will use these instances, these failures of candor, or lack of candor, shall we say, to attack your credibility; to paint you as a liar; to undermine your entire claim. They will argue, effectively, that your pain complaints are not related to any new injury, but an old one that you conveniently forgot to tell everyone about. Sadly, it is a common mistake, but an eminently preventable one. If you had a prior accident ,or a prior injury, wear it like a badge of honor. Discuss it freely and fully. The mere existence of a prior accident or prior injury has no impact whatsoever on the value of your case. On the other hand the mere existence of a prior injury or accident that is concealed, or can be made to appear as though it is being concealed, has an enormous impact on the value of your case.