Don't Ruin Your Personal Injury Case with These Common Medical Mistakes

Gavel and stethescopeFailing to seek immediate medical attention after an accident

The victim of an accident is always responsible for proving an injury in a particular incident. Insurance companies and juries often believe that if you aren’t hurt badly enough to seek immediate medical attention, then you aren’t hurt badly enough to deserve compensation. Don’t ignore signs of pain, even small ones. See a doctor as soon as possible, as minor injuries can always get worse. You don’t want the first words the insurance attorney says to the jury to be, “He didn’t even see a doctor for two weeks.”

Failing to tell your doctor about your health and habits

A health care provider will usually ask if you had any injury or sickness before your current problem. It is important to be honest when answering this type of question. Doctors use your medical history to diagnose and treat you. Providing incomplete information can affect the quality of the medical care you receive. Concealing a prior injury or illness from your doctor will also hurt your legal case. If you provide your doctors with incomplete information, their medical opinions could be rejected by insurance companies and juries. The same advice goes for describing the accident. Don't say the car that hit you was going 50 mph when it really wasn't. The insurance company’s attorney will destroy your credibility with that contradiction.

Talking with your doctor about your lawsuit or your lawyer’s advice

Always be truthful and make sure your doctor understands that you were involved in a car accident. But a doctor does not have to know detailed information about your lawsuit or your lawyer. A doctor’s job is to focus on your medical condition. Sharing your legal issues or concerns with a medical care provider is unnecessary. Remember that whatever you say in confidence to a doctor is no longer confidential once you file a personal injury claim.

Missing or showing up late for medical appointments

Insurance adjusters and juries get to see your medical records. When you skip a medical appointment, your record just says “DNS,” which means “did not show.” Excuses, no matter how valid, usually do not make it into the record. More than one or two “DNS” entries could make it look as though you were not committed to getting better. Skipping medical appointments or showing up late could also irritate your doctor. Irritated doctors do not make good witnesses for their patients. If you need to cancel, call in advance and reschedule. You don’t want the insurance company’s lawyer saying, “It must not have hurt that much; he didn’t even show up for his appointments.”

Failing to get your pain documented in medical records

Insurance companies and juries will not believe you are in pain just because you say so. They need to read about your pain in your medical records. When insurance companies and juries review your records, they will be looking to see how soon after an injury you reported pain and how long you continued to report that pain. One effective way to help make sure your specific pain and limitations do make their way into a busy doctor’s chart is to write it out beforehand and give it to your doctor during your office visit. Again, don’t exaggerate.

Failing to inform your doctor if your injury is affecting your ability to work

Insurance companies and juries will not believe your injury affects your ability to work just because you say so. If your injury is affecting your ability to work, it is important to mention such a problem to your health care provider. Work problems may be caused by injuries that are treatable, and they should be noted in your medical records. Again, keeping notes that you give to the doctor at your office visits can be a good idea.

Failing to take medications as prescribed

There is a reason why doctors prescribe a particular type of medication for a particular time period. You should follow your doctor’s recommendation until your doctor tells you something different. If you think a medication is making your muscles ache or your stomach hurt, say so; side effects are not rare, and your doctor can usually switch you to another medication. Don’t put yourself in the position where you have to admit that you chose not to follow your doctor’s advice. This can be devastating to your claim.

Stopping medical treatment too soon

Insurance companies and juries often believe that if a person stops seeking medical treatment for an injury, the injury must no longer be causing you problems. They also believe that significant gaps between treatments suggest that you healed from one injury and must have suffered a new one unrelated to the first. If an injury is affecting your ability to function, you should seek medical treatment until you are healed, or until a doctor tells you there is nothing more that can be done to improve your condition. If you are still suffering and your doctor tells you to “come back as needed” or “call me if you have any problems,” you should ask how long you should wait before calling if you continue to have the same level of pain and disability.

Failing to follow treatment recommendations related to depression or anxiety

Often pain and disability can trigger depression and anxiety. Psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety are just as real as broken bones. You cannot overcome them without appropriate treatment. A person who causes physical injury to another person is also responsible for resulting psychological conditions. Insurance companies and juries usually only compensate victims of injury-related depression and anxiety if those conditions are properly diagnosed and treated by medical professionals.

Failing to keep a file

It is important that your lawyer knows every medical care provider you see after an injury. It is also important that you keep track of all doctor orders, treatment referrals, and/or work restrictions. Keeping a file of all materials provided to you by health care providers and insurance companies will ensure that you can provide all necessary information to your lawyer at the appropriate time.

If you've been injured in an accident you need to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call us directly at 727.446.0840 to schedule your free consultation.

Jim Dodson
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A Florida injury lawyer, family man and avid cyclist who clients have trusted for over 25 years.