If you have been injured in a car accident, you need to get medical treatment. If you are going to make an injury claim against the other driver, the sooner you treat, the better for your injury claim. Any delay in getting medical treatment will be used against you by the other driver's insurance company. From a personal injury lawyer's perspective, an ambulance ride to the hospital from the accident scene makes for a stronger case than if there is a delay before the first date of treatment.
But what if you don't have health insurance and can't afford to pay for medical treatment? You should hire a personal injury attorney, the sooner the better, who can refer you to a medical provider who will treat you on a lien basis. A lien means that the medical provider agrees to wait to be paid until your case resolves.
Generally, a personal injury lawyer will not refer you to treat on a lien basis until two things are reasonably clear:
- Liability on the other driver looks strong; and
- The other driver has auto insurance, or you have uninsured motorist coverage.
Why? Because an attorney doesn't want to burn his relationship with a medical provider who treats on a lien unless the lawyer has confidence that the doctor will get paid.
What if the police report won't be ready for awhile? That could be a problem. Without a police report, it may not be clear who was at fault, or if there was insurance to cover your claim. In the absence of a readily available police report, the attorney will need to look at all the facts and circumstances to determine whether to go ahead and refer the client for treatment on a lien:
- Is liability clear?
- Was it a rear-end collision? If yes, then the rear-ending vehicle is almost always at fault.
- Can the client provide the attorney with contact information on an independent witness who will corroborate that the other driver was at fault?
- Does other evidence strongly put fault on the other driver?
- Is there auto insurance to cover the claim?
- Does the client have uninsured motorist coverage? If yes, then even if the at-fault driver was uninsured, the client can make an injury claim under his/her own auto insurance.
- Was the at-fault driver driving a company car? A high-end vehicle? A newer vehicle? If yes, that vehicle was likely insured.
The attorney is motivated to get you treating as soon as possible, because it will make for a stronger case.
Bottom Line: if you were injured in a car accident and will be making an injury claim, hire a lawyer and get medical treatment (consistent treatment without gaps or delays) as soon as possible after the accident.