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Can I File A Personal Injury Claim if I Didn’t Go To the Doctor?

You’ve suffered a personal injury. Perhaps you’ve been involved in a car accident, suffered a dog bite, fallen down the stairs at the dentist’s office, or something similar. But, for whatever reason, you did not see a doctor. Maybe you didn’t immediately feel hurt or unwell. Maybe you didn’t have insurance to cover the trip to the doctor’s office or hospital. 

While it may be understandable, you now lack medical documentation and evidence of your injuries. Furthermore, the longer you wait for a medical examination, the more challenging it becomes to link your personal injury to a specific accident.

If you postpone seeking treatment and choose to do so later, you may face challenges in obtaining the compensation you are entitled to under California state law. The insurance company may argue that your injuries aren’t severe because of the delay. They may also allege that your injury was pre-existing and unrelated to their policyholder’s negligence.

What Is Considered a “Personal Injury?”

Personal injury is harm that occurs to a person because someone else breached their duty of care. Negligence is a common basis for personal injury claims. Another basis for personal injury claims is strict liability, which holds designers and manufacturers strictly liable for injuries from defective products. In these cases, the injured person does not have to establish negligence of the manufacturer. Rather, you need to show that the product was designed or manufactured in a manner that made it unreasonably dangerous when used as intended. Finally, intentional wrongs can also be the basis of personal injury claims, though they are rarer.  

What’s The Purpose of Medical Records In Personal Injury Cases?

Medical records are admissible in California court as evidence in a personal injury case. California Evidence Code §1271 states that medical records are admissible as evidence if the custodian of the records or another qualified witness testifies to their authenticity.

The main function of medical evidence is to guide the court and the judges in their decision-making. Medical evidence or medical notes from a doctor, nurse, or other qualified witness who can testify can help determine the cause of injuries and their effects on the victim and if the injuries could lead to a serious or lifelong medical condition.

Medical documentation is important, therefore, in:

  • Establishing Injuries: Medical records are crucial evidence in personal injury claims. They document the nature and extent of your injuries, providing tangible proof of harm.
  • Linking Injuries to the Incident: A medical professional can assess and document how your injuries are related to the incident in question. This linkage is vital for proving causation in your claim.
  • Determining Damages: Medical reports help quantify the damages you suffered, including medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages due to the injury.

Filing a personal injury claim without visiting a doctor can be challenging but not necessarily impossible. However, the success of your claim may depend on various factors, including the nature and severity of your injuries, the jurisdiction where the incident occurred, and the evidence available to support your claim.

Here’s a breakdown of important considerations:

  • Proving Causation: Without medical records, it becomes harder to establish a direct link between the incident and your injuries. Insurance companies and defendants may dispute your claim, arguing that your injuries are unrelated to the incident.
  • Assessing Damages: Absent medical documentation, it’s challenging to accurately quantify your damages. This could result in lower compensation or difficulty negotiating a settlement.
  • Legal Hurdles: Some jurisdictions have legal requirements mandating medical evidence to pursue a personal injury claim. Failing to meet these requirements could jeopardize your case.

In some cases, injuries may not manifest immediately after an incident. If you delayed seeking medical treatment due to this reason, you might still have a valid claim. Also, note that while medical records are the strongest evidence, other forms of documentation, such as eyewitness testimony, photographs of the scene, and expert opinions, can support your claim to some extent.

Important Next Steps to Take

It’s important to meet with a Santa Ana personal injury attorney as soon as possible for help in assessing the relative strength and merits of your case and advice on the best course of action. In the meantime, you should:

  • Document Everything: Keep a detailed record of the incident, including dates, times, and any relevant communications with the other party or witnesses.
  • Seek Medical Evaluation: Even if you initially didn’t seek medical attention, it’s highly advisable to do so as soon as possible. Inform the healthcare provider about the incident and your symptoms.
  • Preserve Evidence: Preserve any evidence related to the incident, such as photographs, witness statements, and property damage reports.

Contact A Santa Ana Personal Injury Attorney Today

No attorney can estimate the value of your personal injury case before performing a thorough investigation—and even then, no attorney can promise a particular outcome of your case. The fact that you lack medical evidence at this point is something that must be carefully evaluated by your attorney. Seek legal advice promptly, gather as much evidence as possible, and consider consulting with a medical professional to document your injuries. Ultimately, the strength of your claim will depend on the available evidence.

However, if you do have a case, you may be entitled to compensation for your economic damages, non-economic damages, and exemplary damages. Economic damages are your objectively verifiable losses, such as healthcare bills, reduced earning capacity, and lost wages. Non-economic damages are intangible losses such as pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and emotional distress. If the party that injured you acted with fraud, malice, or oppression, you may be able to recover exemplary damages. Contact the Law Offices of Benjamin Arsenian P.C. today.