How Refusing Medical Treatment May Hurt Your Personal Injury Claim

Posted on behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak

on July 29, 2022

. Updated on June 2, 2023


If you were involved in an accident, it is generally a good idea to seek medical care as soon as possible. Refusing to see a doctor or receive medical treatment could be dangerous for your health and have a negative impact on your claim. For example, the insurance company may use your refusal of treatment as a reason to deny your claim.

While there are times when an injury victim may be within his or her rights to refuse treatment, the insurance company may still try to deny the claim. Learn more about your legal rights in this situation by calling our knowledgeable auto accident lawyers in South Bend. The consultation is free and there are no upfront fees.

Below, we discuss why refusing treatment could affect your claim, and when you may be within your rights.

Do I Have the Right to Refuse Certain Medical Treatments?

Indiana has a patients’ bill of rights that defines the rights of patients undergoing medical treatment. One of those rights includes the right to refuse to submit to treatment, including medication or habilitation programs.

Therefore, you have the right to refuse medical treatment in most cases. However, it is important to keep in mind that refusing certain treatment could negatively affect the outcome of your claim.

It is important that you have a good reason for refusing treatment. For example, the procedure may be risky and might not provide many benefits. There may be alternative treatments that have been shown to be effective. If you refuse one type of treatment to get an alternative type of treatment, it would be harder for the insurance company to use this against you.

On the other hand, if you refuse a treatment that doctors recommend and you do not get an alternative treatment, the insurance company may have a strong argument you are not taking the injury seriously.

The Insurance Company Will Argue You Are Not Injured

Failing to seek medical treatment after a crash provides the insurance company with an excuse to deny a claim because they can argue the victim is not injured or not as injured as he or she claims.

This is a logical conclusion from the insurance company since an accident claim is based on the fact you were injured due to someone else’s negligence. If you are refusing medical care, the insurance company has reason to argue you are not seriously hurt.

They could also argue that you are trying to defraud them since a lack of medical treatment means there is also a lack of evidence to prove your claim.

You Will Not Have Economic Damages to Justify a Claim

If you do not seek out medical treatment for an injury, you will not have any damages (medical bills) to justify filing a claim for compensation.

Remember that to recover compensation you must prove negligence, and one of the most important elements of negligence is that you suffered damages as a direct result of another person’s actions. If you do not visit a doctor after an injury, it would be difficult to prove you suffered economic damages that you should be compensated for by the insurance company.

Therefore, the insurance company could have reason to deny your claim for compensation. If you file a lawsuit, your case could be dismissed before it ever reaches the discovery process.

Your Pain and Suffering Could Be Denied Since You Refused Treatment

Non-economic damages (pain and suffering) are also an important part of an injury case. However, a person who refuses to receive the necessary treatment to ease his or her pain and suffering could be denied compensation due to failure to mitigate his or her damages.

The insurance company could argue that you are refusing treatment to exacerbate your pain and suffering to recover more compensation than what your claim is truly worth. Failure to mitigate damages is an affirmative defense, so you could be barred from recovering compensation and the at-fault party could be released from liability.

Why Would an Accident Victim Refuse Treatment?

Despite the negative impact refusing medical care might have on a claim, there are some situations when not getting a certain procedure might not affect your case.

For one, you do not have to undergo elective surgery if you are not comfortable with the statistics showing the success rate for the procedure. For example, if you suffered a back injury and are recommended for surgery by your doctor, but the success rate for a disc replacement surgery is not instilling confidence in you, it might not be a good idea to go ahead with the surgery just to try and recover more compensation. Remember that your health should be your number one priority, so if there is a chance you would end up in more pain in the future surgery might not be your best option.

Sometimes injury victims refuse certain medical treatment at the scene of an accident thinking they did not suffer any serious injuries, but then when they finally get to a doctor it is revealed they suffered a herniated disc or whiplash. Although treatment was initially rejected, the insurance company might have a difficult time denying the claim by arguing refusal of care since the person eventually did see a doctor and the injuries were successfully linked to the accident.

Call a Licensed Attorney Today

Although you have the right to refuse treatment, and sometimes you might think you have good reason to reject it, make sure you see a doctor after an accident caused by someone else’s negligence. This is vital for your health, but it may also help link your injuries to the accident to help prove your claim.

If you are unsure about what steps to take after a crash, call our attorneys today to help you through the legal process.

The consultation is free, and we do not charge you anything while we work on your case.

Call (574) 444-0741 to learn more about our services.

Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak

Serious Attorneys for Serious Cases