Since 1984, our office has represented victims of accidents. We have helped thousands of people get compensation for their injuries and other harms. We have learned a lot about the ways accident victims can inadvertently ruin their case by the things they say or do during doctor visits. This informational letter was created to help you avoid making these errors. Here is a list of 10 common mistakes people make when dealing directly with doctors after an accident. Most people are not familiar with the world of personal injury lawsuits. There are bound to be mistaken.
It is important to remember that your medical records will likely contain everything you said and did at your doctor’s or other medical providers. You can also rest assured that the lawyer representing your personal injury case will have access to your medical records. Must be aware of potential mistakes that could harm your legal case. Adhere to certain “fundamentals” when you are dealing with a medical professional after an accident.
Honesty is the best policy
Never mislead a doctor. A doctor can perform tests that will give them an idea of whether or not a patient is lying to get a claim. Your legal case could be destroyed or damaged if they have that feeling about you.
* Patients who are good at following their doctor’s advice and keeping their appointments on time are more likely to be successful.
* Don’t let a lawsuit dictate the type of medical care that you receive or how often you visit a doctor.
- Do not wait to seek medical treatment after an accident “If you feel pain after an accident, or any other symptoms, immediately go to the hospital or to your doctor to be checked out. With prompt medical attention, you will receive better medical care. It is amazing how many injured victims attempt to “toughit out” for days or even weeks after an accident in the hope that the pain will disappear on its own. If your pain does not subside within a few days, you will regret waiting to seek medical attention. Juries and insurance companies often think that if you don’t get medical attention immediately, then you don’t deserve any compensation. You are responsible for proving your injuries were caused directly by the accident, not a pre-existing condition or any other cause. You can expect your insurance company to argue that another “event” occurred after the accident, if you wait several days before seeking medical treatment. Do not ignore pain or other symptoms that result from an accident. Seek medical attention as soon as you can.
The insurance company and jurors
- Although it is important to seek medical attention right away after an accident, it is a bad idea to see a lawyer before seeking medical treatment. The insurance company and jurors will perceive that your legal case is more important than your health if you see a lawyer before seeking medical attention.
- You can lose your personal injury case if you miss any medical appointments. If you miss a doctor’s or therapy appointment, it is possible to have a note in your chart that reads “DNS”. This means you allow the insurance company’s lawyers to argue that (1) you have not been injured as much as you claim and (2) you have not cared about getting better. There is a good chance your doctor or therapist will start to question whether you really want to get better.
Your doctors and therapists will be annoyed if you miss appointments or show up late for appointments. Doctors and therapists who are angry with their patients do not make great witnesses. It is difficult to explain to a jury the reasons you missed doctor or therapy appointments if your claim is not settled.
It is very easy to avoid these problems. You must attend all of your appointments, from the beginning of your medical treatment to the end when you are released from the doctor’s care. You Should call the office if you are unable to attend a scheduled therapy or doctor’s appointment. Reschedule your appointment.
Ask about the accident.
You will need to tell a doctor or therapist what happened. Sometimes the doctor’s or therapists’ offices will give you a form asking you to fill out details about the accident and any symptoms. A lot of accidents happen so fast that victims don’t know what happened. It can be very stressful and confusing to deal with the aftermath of an accident. You must be cautious about what you write or say about an accident. This question may come up:
- The speed at which the vehicle you hit hits you.
- Distance your car was driven after impact.
- The damage is done to the other vehicle.
I don’t know how many times I’ve read hospital records in which an accident victim told an emergency room doctor that another driver had hit them at 50 mph. Later, photographs were taken of the damage to the vehicles, and the evidence suggested that the impact speed was only 15-20 mph. The accident victim didn’t mean to exaggerate the circumstances of the crash. They simply made an uninformed guess. If you tell your doctor you were hit at 50 mph and that your speed report was recorded in your hospital records, but it turns out that your speed report is incorrect, the insurance company lawyer will have an opportunity to question your credibility.
It is important to not guess or speculate when asked about an accident. It’s okay to not know the speed of the other vehicle when it struck you. This contradiction will be used by the insurance company’s lawyer to try and undermine your credibility. Be aware that anything you tell your medical providers about the accident may end up in your medical records. Don’t speculate or guess. You must ensure that the facts you provide to your doctors are accurate.
Talk to your doctor about your health history.
Your doctor or therapist may ask you questions about any pre-accident medical history. Your doctor or therapist may also ask about any injuries or accidents that could be affecting the same area of your body as the one that was damaged in the accident. It is important, to be honest about any pre-accident medical information.
To diagnose and treat you, doctors rely on your past medical history. Incomplete information could impact the quality of your medical care. Your legal case will be affected if you fail to disclose any prior injuries or illnesses from your doctor. You can be sure that the insurance companies and their lawyers will review your medical records in order to determine if you have been injured in an accident. You are likely to make a huge mistake if you hide your pre-existing injuries by not telling your doctor or forget to tell your treating doctor.
Your doctor will ask you if you have disclosed any prior injuries or medical treatment when you file a personal injury case. Doctor will ask you if you have any incomplete information. Your doctor may argue that the diagnosis of your injuries was incorrect because they used incomplete information. It is better, to tell the truth about your medical history before an accident. Your doctor will be able to tell the difference between the injuries you sustained in the past and those that resulted from the accident.
Do not talk to your doctor about your legal case.
Over the years I learned that many doctors are reluctant to be involved in a legal matter. Doctors love practicing medicine and taking care of patients. Lawyers are not a favorite of doctors. Doctors don’t like being asked to sacrifice their time to appear in court and testify in legal cases. Many doctors don’t like having to deal with lawyers and the legal system. Doctors would prefer to not get involved with patients who seem preoccupied with their legal cases, rather than helping them recover from their injuries.
Your doctor is primarily concerned with your medical condition. Your doctor is not required to learn about your lawsuit or discuss it with your lawyer in order to perform their job. It is not necessary to inform your doctor about your legal case or the fact that you have filed a suit against another party. Your physician may be hesitant to treat you or come to important conclusions if you talk about your legal situation. Keep in mind that anything you tell your doctor or therapist will likely be recorded in your medical records.
Always tell the truth when you are asked by your doctor about your legal claim. When your doctor asks you to fill out forms asking if your injury is due to someone else or if it is the subject of a lawsuit or claim, always tell the truth. Your lawyer might eventually ask your doctor to testify for you. However, this is something that your lawyer should take care of without your involvement.
Talk to your medical providers about your pain and limitations.
Nobody wants to be viewed as a whiner, or a complainer. People often accept that healing from an injury can be a painful and long process. They adopt a mindset that says they will “toughit out”. However, this attitude could backfire when they file a legal case. Insurance claims will not consider a complaint or problem that is not documented in your medical records. Juries and insurance companies will not accept that you are suffering from pain simply because you tell them so. They will need to review your medical records for details about your pain. Insurance companies and juries will review your medical records to determine how quickly you reported the pain following an injury. They also want to know how long it continued.
If your injury continues to bother you, don’t tell your doctor. You will likely be asked to rate the severity of your pain as part of your medical treatment. It’s great to be able tell your doctors and therapists your pain is under control. However, it’s important to be open with them. Tell your doctors and therapists if your pain isn’t improving. You should let your doctor and therapist know if a particular therapy is making your pain worse. Your doctor may schedule follow-up appointments for 4 to 6 weeks from now, but you will be asked to return in the interim if your condition worsens. Don’t be discouraged if your symptoms worsen. To schedule an evaluation, call your doctor.
Cooperate with your doctor in order to win your legal case
- It is crucial to cooperate with your doctor in order to win your legal case. Most people have a “family physician” they have been seeing for many years. You are more likely to trust the opinion of a family doctor you’ve seen for many years. You should be able to get along with your family doctor. If you are injured in an accident or have suffered traumatic injuries, your doctor may refer you to a medical specialist you have not seen before. It is possible to end up seeing a doctor you don’t like or who doesn’t understand you. It doesn’t take long for us to find out where there are problems between doctor and patient. Although you might not like the doctor’s personality or style, it is important to cooperate with him. Keep in mind that any words you speak to your doctor could end up in his/her chart.
Talking to your doctor about their diagnosis or treatment plan
Talking to your doctor about their diagnosis or treatment plan is a good idea. Patients don’t want to “second-guess” doctors. Although questions regarding the diagnosis and treatment plan are welcome, it is not a good idea to assume that your doctor knows more about you or your care than you do. This attitude will be reflected in your medical record as argumentative and uncooperative. The lawyer for the insurance company will likely portray you as a patient with problems who keeps “second-guessing his doctor.”
Another problem is when a patient decides that the prescribed medication is not working for him/her and stops taking it. Doctors prescribe certain medications for specific time periods. Until your doctor advises you otherwise, you should always follow your doctor’s advice. You should tell your doctor if you feel that a medication is making you sick. Do not put yourself in a position where you must admit that you did not follow your doctor’s instructions. This could be very detrimental to your claim.
- Not seeking medical treatment too soon. Juries and insurance companies often believe that if someone stops seeking treatment for an injury, it must be healed. A lot of people believe that if there are significant gaps in treatment, it means that you have not been treated for the original injury. You should seek medical attention if you have an injury that affects your ability to function.
If your doctor still tells you to come back as necessary or to “call me if I have any problems”, make sure you ask your physician how long it should take to call him if your condition continues to worsen.
Keep written documentation.
It is crucial that your lawyer has access to all medical providers you visit after an injury. Keep track of any doctor’s orders, referrals or work restrictions. You can easily provide all information to your lawyer by keeping a record of any materials you receive from insurance companies and health care providers.