The Advantage of Having an Attorney: Soft Tissue Injuries—Your Word Against Their Word?
You are in pain, but who is going to believe you? There are several diagnostic tools that medical professionals have long relied on to help them formulate effective treatment plans; however, these same tools—such as X-rays—cannot be relied on to show certain kinds of injuries.
These injuries are known as soft tissue injuries—damage done to parts of the body other than bone—and soft tissue injuries comprise a high percentage of all injuries brought on by automobile accidents.
Despite the fact that soft tissue injuries, such as whiplash, are very painful and often require that a person make major changes to his or her lifestyle, it is considerably more difficult to obtain fair compensation for these injuries than it is for, say, a broken bone. This is usually because of a lack of hard-to-refute proof that the injury was sustained.
Since it is either too difficult or too expensive for many accident victims to obtain hard-to-refute proof of the injury itself—for example, through an MRI, rather than an X-ray—the injured car accident victim needs proof of treatment. With clear medical documentation of treatment, it is far more likely that compensation will be equivalent to the amount of physical pain and emotional and collateral pain, stress and suffering, that the injuries in fact caused. After all, an insurance company, or a jury, isn’t likely to accept a claim of soft tissue injury simply on good faith alone. Medical records will serve as much stronger proof than a victim’s claim, by itself.
Although the claimant without a clear diagnosis is in substantial danger of his claim being denied, even a claimant who does have a diagnosis or proof of treatment is wise to seek out a lawyer to help him recover a settlement that will truly make him “whole.” If the type of accident can be proved, this often leads insurance companies to offer settlements, because they know that certain kinds of accidents are known to result in certain kinds of soft tissue injuries.
However, it is common knowledge that insurance companies will attempt to persuade you to agree to settlements that in no way fully cover all that an accident has cost you. Costs arise both as direct monetary losses, and as indirect…such as having to travel 3 times per week, for 5 weeks—missing work—to a physical therapist, for your soft tissue injury treatment.
Waiting too long to seek medical help invites arguments from the insurance company that you weren’t really that injured. In the same way, waiting too long to seek a lawyer’s assistance in this fight for a fair settlement can mean that a hostile insurance company now has statements and actions of yours that make proving the amount which you really deserve a very long and costly task. If the insurance company convinces you to sign a release, for example, you waive your legal right to pursue compensation for any further treatment of your injuries. Just like a doctor is the only player in this field who can determine when it is possible to know that all possible injuries from the accident have manifested, and you can cease treatment, your lawyer is the only one who is trained to know what to do and to say in order to successfully deter the insurance company from denying you the funds that you deserve.