attend hospital gp accident claim injury compensation

Attend At Hospital / GP To Support Your Claim For Personal Injury Compensation

In this article you will discover why it is essential you attend at hospital or your GP immediately following your accident to give yourself the best chance of succeeding in a personal injury claim.

We discuss industrial injuries that may necessitate first seeking medical attendance many years after your hazardous exposure.

Why does prompt hospital / GP attendance following an accident support your claim?

When making a personal injury claim you must prove (amongst other things):

  • An accident or negligence caused you injury.
  • The exact nature of your injuries.
  • The extent of your injuries.

What would a person injured in an accident ordinarily do?

When it comes to injuries – the first test is to look practically what someone who is injured would do.

Seek medical assistance

Logically you would be concerned about your injury and attend at hospital or your GP immediately or soon after your accident.

Diagnosis and treatment

You do this only to have your injuries diagnosed and treated.

However, as part of this process – your doctor would typically enquire as to how you were injured.

Notes on your medical records

Thereafter, a medical professional would make a note on your hospital / GP records as to the injury, the cause and the treatment recommended.

Any follow up appointments would also be recorded.

Essential evidence

You now have an essential record, which can assist in proving your claim.

Access to medical records

Both your solicitor and the person at fault’s representative (solicitor or insurer) – will have the right to access your medical notes.

Consent Form To Allow Access To Your Medical Records
Of course, you would need to sign a consent form to allow access to your medical records.
Realistically you cannot refuse to give permission if you wish to succeed in your claim.
However, there are limited occasions when access to highly sensitive unrelated medical conditions can be restricted in your consent.

Examples of importance of attending at hospital / GP following an accident

Let us look at two contrasting examples of the importance of attending with medical professionals:

Scenario 1 – Car accident with immediate attendance at hospital

You are a passenger in a car when the driver loses control on ice and hits a tree. You feel neck and shoulder pain, tingling in your hands, headaches, pain in your wrist. An ambulance is called and you immediately attend at hospital.

At hospital – tests are done. You are diagnosed with severe whiplash to the neck and a sprained wrist. You are told to see your GP if the problem persists.

The doctors ask how the accident happened, so as to understand the sequence of events and to allow a proper diagnosis to be made. The doctors record you were a passenger in a car that hit a tree, your symptoms, the tests done, the diagnosis and treatment recommended.

A year later you decide to make a claim.

The records the doctors have made provide strong evidence that the accident happened and that you suffered injuries.

As part of your claim your solicitor would send you to see an independent medical expert. Invariably, the medical expert would need to see your GP and hospital notes to check that you did report the injuries and that you had not been to the doctors about similar injuries before the accident.

Take a look at my article describing medical causation in personal injury claims.

Scenario 2 – Car accident with no attendance at hospital / GP

Imagine the same car accident occurs as in scenario 1.

On this occasion – no ambulance is called. You decide not to go to hospital or your GP. A year later approach a solicitor to make a claim.

As you had never attended with a medical professional – it would be very difficult to show the cause of your injury was an accident a year earlier.

The Legal Burden Of Proof Is On You
Remember – the legal burden of proof is on you as the Claimant.
In other words – to succeed with your personal injury claim, you must show that you suffered injury in your accident.

The medical expert instructed by your solicitor to show your injuries – should be independent (unbiased – not favouring the Claimant or the Defendant), owes a duty to the court and comments on the balance of probability.

That expert may not be satisfied that any injuries you have experienced (either that remain or you have already recovered from) came from an accident a year earlier without proper entries on your medical records.

Even if the medical expert is satisfied – the driver’s insurer or solicitor could argue that your injuries are exaggerated (in extreme cases could allege fundamental dishonesty or fraud).

In other words – that you were not injured and are claiming wrongly.

hospital gp accident compensation claim
Attending At Hospital / GP Following An Accident To Support Your Claim

What should you do if you did not seek medical help after your accident?

Should you not have attended hospital or your GP soon after the accident you should:

Speak to a solicitor

You should immediately speak to a solicitor.

There are many other considerations that come into play to prove that an accident happened and that you suffered injury, which only a solicitor can assess.

After Speaking With A Solicitor Attend At Hospital / GP
If on speaking with a solicitor you decide to go for the first time to the doctors a year after the accident. Depending on your injury this could help.
However, the representative for the Defendant may argue that a person attending at hospital for the first time a year after an accident would be inconsistent and suspicious.

Attend with a medical professional if symptoms are ongoing

You may find that your injury has not resolved sometime after the accident. For example – imagine you broke your toe and a year later you are still hobbling around.

It may not be too late to see your GP – who could refer you to hospital. X-rays may be taken to show a broken bone and failure to heal correctly from lack of treatment.

Some types of injury can be proven without medical attendance

There are some types of injury that can be proven to be as a result of an accident – even if not reported initially at hospital or the GP.

EXAMPLE – Defective Work Machine Accident
For example – imagine you have been cut by a defective machine at work.
You reported the accident at work and a record was made of the accident and your injury. 
However, you never attended with the doctors, but you are left with a permanent scar.
You have photos taken on your mobile at the time of the accident of your injury.
In this instance – it is very likely your accident can still be proven to have caused your scarring injury. Because, you have indisputable evidence of your accident and the cut you received.

What if you didn’t know you were injured?

When it comes to an accident event – you would expect to know you are injured immediately.

Symptoms of pain

Generally speaking for accidents – such as work accidents and car accident, the law expects injury to take place immediately.

Although, you may not appreciate what you injury is or its extent – the pain and discomfort you experience would put you on notice that you have suffered some type of injury.

Children and victims lacking mental capacity

Children and adults lacking mental capacity may not realise that they should seek medical attention.

In fact – there attendance with a medical professional may be dependent on someone else. Here – it is likely that the law would be more lenient in a failure to seek medical assistance.

Exception for industrial disease claims

There is an exception to the rule of attending immediately at hospital / GP. Industrial disease or injuries often only show symptoms a long time after damage or hazardous exposure occurred.

In such types of claim – you often have no symptoms at the time of hazardous exposure and symptoms may only appear many years – even decades, after initial exposure.

Example Of Industrial Lung Disease
Consider a typical industrial lung disease, such as coal miners’ black lung / pneumoconiosis.
Imagine – exposure took place when you worked as a miner 30 years earlier – you had no symptoms. Suddenly in later life you develop breathing difficulties. You see your GP – who refers you to a specialist at hospital. Your lungs are scanned and coal miners’ black lung / pneumoconiosis diagnosed (from coal dust exposure when you worked as a miner).
You may have made no connection to your current symptoms from the hazardous exposure you experienced so long ago. Therefore, in such matters no attendance with doctors at the time of exposure can often prove helpful – especially for the purpose of limitation in making a claim.
It was consistent that you did not initially attend with doctors (as you had no symptoms) and your limitation of 3 years to make a claim could be argued to run from the date of diagnosis.
Had you seen your the doctors earlier – such attendances would be shown on your medical notes. Therefore – your former employer may argue that you had knowledge at that time and the three-year period for making a claim started to tick.

SUMMARY – Attend At Hospital / GP To Win Your Accident Claim

You have seen why it is important that you attend at hospital or another medical professional as soon as possible following an accident; the need to discuss with a solicitor to determine if you still have a claim if you have not seen a medical professional; types of injury that do not require an attendance at hospital and how industrial disease and other types of injury that are asymptomatic can actually be helped by no earlier attendances with a medical expert.

FREE Of CHARGE Specialist Solicitor Assessment – Online / By phone

As with all types of legal issue relating to personal injury – you should speak to a solicitor as soon as possible (whether or not you attended with your GP or at hospital).

We provide free online and telephone help to allow you to know if your have a claim before deciding to go ahead.