Being involved in a motor vehicle or personal injury accident is an upsetting and at times, traumatic experience. Depending on the circumstances, you may or may not be taken by ambulance to hospital.
In the days after the accident (including discharge from hospital), you may think that the pain you are experiencing in your neck, back, shoulders or any other part of your body isn’t worth going to see your doctor about. You may think that you can ‘push through’, you don’t want to ‘bother’ and things will improve in a little while. You may go on thinking like this for weeks, months even, all the while struggling with pain as well as becoming increasingly irritable with those around you.
As well as the above, you may be reluctant to consult your medical practitioner due to concerns about COVID – 19. This may particularly be the case if you have a pre-existing health condition –remember however that tele-health consultations are available without the need for a surgery visit. https://www.health.gov.au/ministers/the-hon-greg-hunt-mp/media/looking-after-people-with-existing-health-conditions-during-covid-19
At Lindbloms Lawyers, we strongly advise you to see and report to a medical practitioner as soon as possible after the incident.
There are many reasons for this. Below we outline the three top reasons why you should report your injury as early as possible:
Getting appropriate Treatment
First and foremost, it is important to consult and report your injury to your medical practitioner as soon as possible after an incident to ensure you get the appropriate treatment. There may be an underlying cause for ongoing pain which requires urgent expert care. Sometimes an injury arising from an incident can be overlooked due to focus on other more obvious injuries.
It can be particularly challenging in these times with COVID to keep in touch with your GP but vital that you do so.
Under S126A of the Motor Vehicles Act (SA) in most cases you need to provide the insurer with notice of your claim for bodily injury within 6 months from the date of injury. Amongst other information, the Claim Form that you are required to complete requests that you detail injuries arising from accident accident and treatment you have received. A failure to provide Notice within the required 6 month time frame may result in the insurer declining to consider or deal with your claim.
For any other personal injury claim (aside from motor vehicle accident or worker’s compensation) Court Rules require that before commencing a claim in Court, within 6 months after the day on which the incident giving rise to your personal injury occurred, you serve a written ‘Early Notice of Personal Injury’ on the person potentially at fault. Exceptions to the Rule do apply, however it is important to consult a Lawyer as soon as possible after your injury to ensure compliance with the Court Rules.
Being able to prove a consistent history of consultation with your medical practitioner regarding your injuries is important to support your claim for damages. This will assist the insurer to gain an accurate picture of how your injury has affected you as well as assisting both your solicitor and the insurer to more accurately assess your claim. You may think you can ‘carry on’ with pain and it will ‘right itself’ and consequently may not present to your medical practitioner. However, if there are large gaps in consultation or lack of consultation at all after injury, it may be misconstrued that your injuries and the effect they are having on your day to day functioning are less than they really are. Particularly where injury arises out of a motor vehicle accident, the amount at which your damages are assessed can affect your entitlement to costs and can in fact lead to no entitlement to costs.
Once reported to a medical practitioner, make an appointment with an experienced personal injury lawyer as early as possible after the accident, so that they can guide you through the claims process and help ensure that any entitlement to costs can be preserved.