When you suffer injuries in a slip and fall accident, it’s important to seek medical attention to ensure you recover as quickly as possible. However, some injury victims do not immediately go to the doctor to be assessed because they don’t show instant signs and symptoms of a serious injury.
If you were involved in a slip and fall and don’t have obvious signs of a serious injury, you might be asking yourself how long you have to go to the doctor after a slip and fall.
While Georgia law does not require a potential claimant or plaintiff to seek advice from a healthcare provider within a specific period of time, failing to seek medical attention quickly can impact the settlement or damages award that an injury victim ultimately obtains.
Here are a number of reasons its important to seek help from a healthcare provider as soon as possible:
Severe Injuries Do Not Always Have Obvious Signs and Symptoms
When a person is involved in a slip and fall accident, they may not suffer injuries that produce immediate signs and symptoms. Even if you don’t have obvious symptoms, that doesn’t you haven’t sustained a severe injury. The National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI) cites the following as some of the most common and serious injuries in slips and falls:
- Broken bones or fractures
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Spinal cord injuries (SCIs)
Slips and falls can also cause many other types of injuries, including bruises, sprains, strains, and cuts. While the NFSI reports that 8 million emergency department visits are attributed to falls each year, millions more people slip and fall, and they either don’t seek medical attention or wait days before seeing a doctor. It’s never a good idea to wait to receive medical treatment.
For example, a person might break a bone in a slip and fall accident and assume the injury is less severe than it actually is. Waiting to visit a physician can result in the injury worsening. The same is true for TBIs and some SCIs. These injuries may not result in instantaneous signs of severe injury but waiting to be treated can have debilitating consequences.
Failing to See a Doctor Right Away Can Lead the At-Fault Party to Argue Your Injuries Resulted from Something Else
When you see a doctor right away about a slip and fall injury, the physician can make clear in your medical records that the injury resulted from the recent slip and fall accident. If you wait too long to see a healthcare provider — and sometimes if you even wait a few days to visit your doctor after the initial accident — the at-fault party may try to argue that your injuries resulted from another incident. In other words, the at-fault party can contend that your injuries did not result from the slip and fall accident.
Comparative Fault in a Georgia Slip and Fall Accident
Beyond the medical and physical repercussions of waiting to see a doctor about a slip and fall injury, waiting too long to seek medical attention can also affect the amount of a payout for damages. In short, if you don’t seek medical attention immediately and your injuries worsen as a result of your delay, the at-fault party may argue that you are partially to blame for the severity of your injuries and that you should not be entitled to compensation.
Under Georgia contributory negligence law, a plaintiff in a slip and fall case may either have a damages award reduced or may be barred from recovery if it’s determined the plaintiff is partially at fault for his or her injuries. If a plaintiff is less than 50 percent responsible for the severity of the injuries, the plaintiff is still entitled to recover damages.
However, the plaintiff’s damages award will be reduced by his/her proportion of the fault. For example, if a court awards a plaintiff $100,000 in damages but determines that the plaintiff is 20 percent responsible for his or her injuries because he or she failed to seek timely medical treatment, then the award of $100,000 would be reduced by the plaintiff’s percentage of fault (20 percent of $100,000, or $20,000), and the plaintiff would receive the remaining $80,000.
However, once a court determines that a plaintiff is 50 percent or more responsible for injuries, then the plaintiff is barred from any recovery. For example, if a court decides a plaintiff is 50 percent responsible for his or her injuries because he or she failed to seek timely medical treatment, that plaintiff cannot obtain any compensation for his or her losses.
Statute of Limitations in a Slip and Fall
You also want to seek timely medical attention to ensure that you have the evidence you need to file your claim on time. How long after a slip and fall can you sue? The statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Georgia is two years. This means a plaintiff has two years from the date of a slip and fall accident to file a lawsuit.
Seek Advice from a Georgia Slip and Fall Lawyer
At Blasingame, Burch, Garrard & Ashley, P.C., our Georgia personal injury lawyers regularly assist clients with slip and fall accident claims. A Georgia slip and fall lawyer can speak with you today about your case. There is no fee for an initial consultation and no charge unless we resolve your claims. Contact us for more information.
We have offices in Atlanta, Athens, and Lake Oconee and take cases across the state of Georgia. We offer free consultations and there is no fee unless we win your case.