Serving clients in Fayetteville and all of NW Arkansas
When you are injured in an accident, you should get help immediately. In some cases, you might not realize your were injured or you might have other priorities that seem more important at the time, which could mean that you go hours or days without getting the medical care you need. When this happens, it can be harder to prove that your injuries were related to the accident, and it can hurt your case. Fortunately, the law does not explicitly limit you from getting the help you need. Fayetteville, AR personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak explains how long you have to seek medical attention after an accident in Arkansas and how a delay in treatment can affect your potential personal injury case and right to compensation – and what we can do to help with your case.
How Long Can You Wait to Seek Treatment After an Injury in Arkansas?
Nothing in the law specifically says that you have to seek treatment for an injury or that you have to do so within a specific time period. If you get hurt and you don’t want to get treatment, that’s your choice. However, failing to get an injury treated could mean that hidden injuries you aren’t aware of get worse, potentially becoming fatal. People have been killed by traumatic brain injuries that were not treated and led to massive brain hemorrhage or death later. Untreated spinal cord injuries could get worse, leading to irreparable back and spine damage that could cause life-long complications. In most cases, it is best for your health to get your injuries treated right away.
Additionally, if you are planning on trying to get compensation for your injuries or the accident you faced, you should definitely get treatment to create a record of the injuries you faced as soon as possible. If you wait to seek treatment, there will be no record that links the injury to the date of the accident. If there is a gap in time between when you claim you were injured and when you actually sought treatment, this will cause a problem in 4 major ways:
- It might look like the injury was not very serious if you were able to go days or weeks without getting treatment.
- It might look like the injury was caused by something else that happened between the date of injury and date of treatment.
- It might look like you took the extra time to let the injuries get worse in an attempt to claim higher damages.
- It might look like you needed time to craft a false story about how the injury happened.
In any case, a good defense attorney will use the delay in treatment to help disprove your case or put holes in your story. Questions like, “If the injury was so serious, why did they wait to go to the hospital?” can absolutely sink an injury case.
Usually, it isn’t a matter of how long you can legally wait but rather a question of how long you should wait. In most cases, the answer is simply that you should not wait; seek medical attention immediately after an accident.
How Long Can I Wait to Sue for an Injury in Arkansas?
A related issue in Arkansas personal injury claims is that every case has a “statute of limitations” that needs to be followed. In a personal injury case, this usually gives you until 3 years after the accident to file your injury claim. That means that if you haven’t gotten medical attention and filed your case by then, it will be time-barred and blocked from court. However, most serious injuries are treated far sooner than 3 years after the injury, so it is unlikely that you will run up against the statute of limitations deadline without ever having your injuries treated.
If I Waited to Seek Medical Help after an Accident, Can I Still Sue in Arkansas?
As mentioned, there is typically nothing that prevents you from being legally able to wait to seek treatment for your injuries after an accident, and your case can still go to court as long as you file within 3 years. However, any delay might hurt your case.
If you wait to seek treatment, the record of treatment will not be as clear and accurate, and the defense might claim that your injuries got worse or actually occurred in the time between the accident and the time you sought treatment. This makes your case harder to prove.
However, you can still sue for injuries even if the treatment you got came some time after the accident. Not every injury is obvious, and it is common for people to not realize right away how serious their injuries were. For example, it might not be until days or weeks later that you notice a neck, back, or spine injury and realize it was related to a car accident you had. Additionally, the adrenaline from an accident might cover your pain, and the effects might not wear off until hours after the accident.
In these kinds of cases, you will have to show that nothing bad happened between the accident and the treatment that could have caused the injury, such as a fall from a ladder at home or an injury from lifting boxes. You might also run into issues where you said things like, “I’m fine,” or, “I don’t need to go to the hospital,” immediately after the accident. Avoid saying these kinds of things, because any statements you make could be used against you in court. Instead, leave things open and avoid saying anything about the injuries being “not too bad” or anything to that effect. Then, when you get treatment later, it will not seem like you were contradicting yourself.
Call Our Fayetteville Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Case Consultation
It is always better to act quickly after an accident to get your injuries treated and begin building a record of how you were hurt and what harms you suffered. If you plan on filing an insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit for damages, your medical records will be a big part of your case. For help understanding when you should get treatment and how to proceed after an accident, talk to a lawyer. Personal injury lawyer Ken Kieklak offers free case consultations. Call (479) 316-0438 today to schedule yours.
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