You were just rear-ended while stopped at a stoplight. Surprised but apparently unhurt you refuse medical treatment at the scene and proceed home. The next morning you wake up sore so you call in sick. This pattern repeats itself for three or four days until finally you feel well enough to return to work, however a pain in your back persists for a few months preventing you from doing many of the activities you would normally enjoy. Finally, one day you wake up pain free.
Some time later you are talking with a friend who is an attorney. You tell him about your car accident and he mentions that you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries. Sounds like a good idea until after discussing it further he tells you that you have no case because you do not have at least $1000.00 in medical bills. How can this be? The accident was no fault of yours. The driver who hit you had good insurance coverage and you were injured and suffered pain so shouldn’t you be compensated for those injuries?
There is a little known clause in most Kentuckians’ insurance policies which states that unless you affirmatively opt out, you waive your right to sue for damages which result from a motor vehicle accident unless you have incurred $1000.00 in medical bills. This is what happened to the driver in the example above. Who benefits from this clause? While the insurance industry will claim that you benefit from lower premiums, the reality is that you lost work, suffered pain and injury caused by somebody else’s negligence.
So how do you prevent this from happening? You can opt in by contacting your insurance company but beware you may pay a higher premium. Another option is to seek medical treatment. Even minor collisions can cause injuries that do not manifest themselves for a few days. I often have clients who relate to me that they didn’t feel pain until the next day. If this is the case, go see your doctor. It may be nothing or it may be a sign of a worsening condition.
The moral of this story is to seek medical treatment if you have been in a collision. If nothing else you gain piece of mind knowing that you sustained no serious injuries, and if you are injured you preserve your right to seek compensation.