How Gaps in Medical Treatment Affect Your Injury Claim

The insurance adjuster's assessment of your injuries is based almost entirely on your medical records. Gaps in treatment may cause the adjuster to "devalue" your claim.

If you are injured in an accident you will probably be making a few visits to your doctor. There will be tests as well as follow up visits to keep track of your injuries and the progress you are making as you heal. It is extremely important that you keep up with these appointments, because consistency of care is going to benefit you greatly. Secondary to that, if you decide to file a personal injury claim, a gap in treatment could lessen your compensation greatly.

What’s a Gap?

There are two types of gaps in treatment; one is the gap between when you got in the accident and when you first start treating injuries from that accident. For example you were in a car accident, but you did not seek medical help until six months later. The other type of gap is when you did see a doctor for your injuries and then let several months go by before you see him or her again.

In a personal injury case, the insurance adjuster will be looking for ways to devalue your claim. If they see that there is a gap in your medical treatment they will try to use this as evidence that your injuries are not as severe as you are claiming. That is why it is important not only to meet with your doctor regularly, but you should also keep a journal of your visits, pain, and symptoms new or existing.

Legitimate Reasons You May Have a Gap

A gap in treatment does not mean you are not injured. Chances are that if you have a gap in treatment it was not because you weren’t experiencing pain and problems. Sometimes a gap simply cannot be avoided. You may experience a sickness or illness that prevents you from making your appointments. For example, maybe you had an unrelated surgery that required extended healing time, that would be an acceptable explanation for the gap. Perhaps you went out of town on vacation or to visit a sick relative. This is perfectly acceptable and of course your personal injury claim does not mean that you must stop living your life. By communicating anything that could cause a gap in treatment with your attorney, they will be able to document the reasoning behind the hiatus so that it cannot be used against you by the insurance company.

Follow Your Doctors Orders

Put simply, your health and well-being are the most important reason behind avoiding gaps in treatment. When you have injuries from an accident you may be living with them for the rest of your life. The severity may lessen with treatment, but chances are the residual effects will continue to affect you. It is in your best interest to take care of your health and stick with the treatment your doctor suggests, and if you do decide to file a claim it will really help your case.

For more on making the best case possible, check out our section on personal injury damages and compensation.

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