- Victims Wait too long to obtain medical care
- Missing medical appointments
- Guessing about facts of the accident when asked by their doctor
- Not being honest or accurate about their health history
- Down playing injuries or trying to be tough
- Not telling the doctor about all of their symptoms
- Not cooperating with their doctor
- Not keeping written documentation
- Stopping treatment too soon
- Telling the insurance company about their injuries prematurely
Our office has been representing injury victims since 2004. Since that time, Laura Payne Hunt has helped hundreds of clients obtain money for the injuries they sustained. Based on this experience, I have witnessed how accident victims can unintentionally ruin their own case because of the things they say and do during doctor visits or their failure to attend such visits. I am providing this short condensed list to help victims seeking care for their injuries. Most people have never had to make a claim and are unprepared for the medical history and care that must be diligent and accurate to serve your best interests. The number one matter is HONESTY HONEST HONESTY. You must provide every provider with an accurate history to the best of your ability. An honest oversight can result in a challenge to your credibility at a later time. Therefore, even if you forget something at one appointment, it will never be too late to advise your doctor to add your omission to the records at a later time. Remember that everything
you say and your actions at your doctor’s office (or other medical providers) is likely to be documented in your medical records. Therefore, you should understand that your medical records are going to wind up in the hands of the insurance company or lawyer defending your personal injury claim. For that reason, you should be aware of the mistakes that can adversely affect your legal claim and the following is a list of the most common:
1). Seek medical attention right away for your injuries.
It is extremely important that your injury is documented as close to the time of accident as possible. If you are involved in an accident and you are feeling pain or other symptoms after the accident, it is extremely important that you go to the hospital or quick care or your family doctor to be checked out immediately. With prompt care you will get better medical attention and your injuries will be better documented. I have often heard clients say “well I want to just wait and see if it goes away.” In the normal setting this might not be a bad plan. However, if it does not go away and you do not seek treatment the insurance company will argue that some other intervening cause is the reason that you were having pain or that your pain must have not been that significant if you waited to get medical attention. It is the oldest argument in the book from the defense and one that they make time and time again. So if you are involved in an accident and is not your fault, meaning someone else is responsible for injuries and pain, it is important to document that injury immediately to prove that it is causally related to the accident that you were involved in with that third-party.
2) Do not miss medical appointments for the injuries you sustained an accident
Another issue that the insurance company will look for immediately in your records is whether you missed appointments on any regular basis. They will argue that skipping a doctor’s appointment meant that you were not feeling pain that day. We all know that life intervenes and that there are hundreds of reasons that you could not attend an appointment, including, work family commitments etc. However, the insurance company will not see it this way. If you have to reschedule appointment be diligent in rescheduling around your personal commitments. At our law office we are very conscious of our clients’ needs and we will find medical providers that will work with your schedule and provide after hours appointments or even the weekend appointments to accommodate your daily life.
3) Give an accurate accident history to the doctor of only facts that you know.
An accident is a trying, frustrating, scary event that happens in seconds. It is very difficult to know or understand all of the exact movements that happened to your body or even sometimes how the impact occurred in complex, multivehicle crashes. Tell the doctor what you know factually to the best of your recollection but do not guess about things you do not know. For example, I’ve often had clients tell doctors an unreasonable rate of speed of the accident occurred at such as 80 miles an hour. Realistically, I think most people understand it if you were hit at 80 miles an hour in the vehicle, it would be unlikely that you would have survived. But people just know that it was hard and it was violent and it happened very quickly. So when asked to describe the accident simply state the facts that you recall and are firm in your memory. For example: “I was rear ended by another vehicle.” Or “The accident was hard.” Or “I don’t know what happened to my body inside the car.” Again, these medical records will wind up in the defense hands and they will scrutinize everything you told the doctor. They will do their best to challenge your credibility or recall of the events. Therefore, it is important that the information that you tell your doctor for the basis of your care is accurate. If that information is incorrect, they will argue that your care was not related to the accident because it is based on false allegations
4) Be honest about your medical history with your doctor
Doctors and hospitals will take a complete medical history when they are providing care. It is important that you are accurate in describing any past injuries or accidents or illnesses or surgeries that you have had in the past. The reason for this is that we can always explain all of your medical history and how it is or is not related to an accident. However, we cannot explain missing information and that will make you appear as though you were lying to your doctor. With many years of experience, I completely understand that people forget things or don’t recall things that happened to them when they’re in a stressful situation. If you forget information at the time you’re asked, it is never too late to tell your doctor “I forgot to tell you I broke my wrist 10 years ago” or “oh, I forgot to tell you I had knee surgery two years ago.” It is important that those things are documented in the record. Clients often state “well I didn’t think it was relevant.” It may not be relevant to the accident injuries that you sustain but it is important to know that is relevant to your credibility. And your whole case will always rest upon your credibility. The insurance company will immediately start to tear down your credibility from the first time that you make the claim. They are not on your side and they will use anything they can to diminish the value of your claim.
5) Do not talk to your doctor about the financial part of your claim.
It is not appropriate or necessary for your medical care to tell your doctor that you hope to get a certain amount of money from your claim or that you need money as a result of your injuries from the accident. That is a discussion to have with your attorney, not your doctor. Doctor’s records are part of the case and they are not privileged in a legal action. They are not available to the public and you have a right of privacy, but if you file a legal claim all of those privacy rights are waived because those records are needed to support your claim. Any financial questions you have about your claim should be directed to your attorney and discussed with your attorney and not with your medical providers
6) Not telling the doctor about all of their symptoms.
Tell your doctor about all of your pain and any life disruptions it causes.
One of the biggest mistakes that we’ve had over the years with clients is that they want to appear tough or they do not want to appear as a whiner or complainer. Sometimes people just resolve themselves to having pain and don’t want to discuss the details of how that pain impacts their life to their doctor. It is important that your doctor understands what you are going through so that he can give you the proper treatment. If you choose to “tough it out”, that will impact your claim and diminish the value. This is because what you are truly going through and the pain you are having will not be documented. As a result, the insurance company will find you are not entitled to compensation for your symptoms that are not documented. What you tell your doctor is crucial to determining the value of your claim. That is because a personal injury action is tied to the amount of personal injury that a person sustained. You can see this by imagining yourself on a jury. If someone comes to the courthouse and testifies that five days later they were pain-free and back to the regular activity, it would be likely that you would not compensate them in a large manner. If someone comes to the courthouse four years later they are still limping and they are still unable to conduct their necessary daily activities, that case has a much different value.
7) You must cooperate with your doctors during the claim.
Another issue we have with clients is that they don’t want to go to doctors’ appointments. Doctors work together and different doctors treat different parts of the body and different injuries. Your family doctor may refer you to a pain management doctor or to an orthopedic doctor when your pain is not getting better. The chiropractor may refer you back to your family doctor when he feels that you are not improving as he would like. Complex claims involve complex medical treatment. It is important that you follow the advice of your doctor in following up with additional providers if they are recommended.
8) Keep your records that you are sent.
If you receive any type of billing or medical records it is very important that you keep those in the file. Any receipts you receive from doctors from your appointments, any discharge information from the hospital, etc. should be kept. All paperwork that relates to your injuries you should keep in the file. This can make it much easier to track down all of your medical bills and records when they are needed. Often times a hospital visit will result in 3 to 5 bills. For example, radiology and emergency care will be billed separately. It is important you keep a file with all of those bills so that all of the records can be obtained to support your personal injury claim
9) Do not stop treatment until you are discharged by your doctor.
Your doctor will decide when you have reached what is called “maximum medical improvement.” That means they will provide treatment and care and referral treatment and care until they feel that your medical needs have been met and that you are stable. If you stop treatment on your own without consulting your doctor, the insurance company will immediately argue that you were better or that you failed to mitigate your damages because you did not complete your treatment as required by the doctor. In addition, if you are still having pain they will discount the pain because you did not finish your treatment. Therefore, it is very important to communicate well with your treating doctor and agree that you are ready to conclude your medical care for the accident
10) Never talk to the other insurance company with a lawyer
It has become a common practice recently for insurance companies to call an injured victim within days, sometimes hours of an accident. We have even had cases where insurance adjusters have met injured victims at the hospital to try to elicit statements from them. Do not talk to anyone following an accident who is not a doctor, family member, or a lawyer that you retained. Clients are often disoriented, upset and stressed after the accident. Insurance companies will attempt to leverage this stress in their favor. They will call you and ask you about your injuries on a recorded line and clients often will say oh they are feeling better or they don’t know. But it turns out they actually have fractured ribs and they were trying to tough it out. Nothing can hurt you in any legal setting more than your own words. It is important that you choose carefully who you speak to regarding any injuries you sustained. The insurance companies can be extremely unscrupulous and leading in obtaining statements from victims
If you or a loved one is injured call our office immediately. We can make sure that you receive the care you need and deserve, and advise on how to preserve evidence. If you have been in any type of accident and have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our offices today. At my office, we are experienced in helping injured victims get the compensation they are entitled to. Insurance companies never have the best interest of the injured person at the top of their priorities. They want to pay as little on every claim as possible. Having worked for an insurance company as an attorney for 9 years before opening my boutique law firm specializing in helping injured people, I reviewed thousands of auto accident claims and policy provisions.
At the Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt we are here to help you and your family in the event that accidents and tragedies occur. For any of your legal needs, do not hesitate to contact our offices. The Law Offices of Laura Payne Hunt is a boutique, family owned law firm in Henderson that specializes in helping injured people and the community with legal issues involving auto accidents, wrongful deaths, slip and falls, truck accidents, injuries to children, bicycle accidents, dog bites, and all types of injury claims. Please do not hesitate to call us anytime you have a legal question or you or a loved one has sustained an injury at 702-450-(HUNT) 4868 and text 24/7 at 702-600-0032.