At Carpey Law, we have proudly been representing personal injury victims since 1987. Over the past 30 years, we have represented thousands of victims who have obtain compensation for the injuries, medical bills, and pain and suffering they have suffered as a result of the negligence of others. We’ve learned a lot about mistakes victims can innocently make that can ruin their own case because of what they say and do during doctor visits.
- Failing to Seek Immediate Medical Attention After a Traumatic Event
The victim is always responsible for proving that he or she was injured in a particular incident. Insurance companies and juries often believe that if you are not hurt badly enough to seek immediate medical attention, you are not hurt badly enough to deserve compensation. Do not ignore signs of pain, even small ones. See a doctor as soon as possible, as minor injuries can always get worse.
- Failing to Fully Disclose Your Health History and Habits to Your Doctor
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 past medical history to diagnose and treat you. Providing incomplete information can impact the quality of the medical care you receive. Concealing prior injury or sickness 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.
- Missing or Showing up Late for Medical Appointments
Insurance companies 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 like 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.
- Failing to Get Your Pain Accurately Documented in Medical Records
Insurance companies and juries will not believe that 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 you reported pain after an injury and how long you continued to report that pain.
- Failing to Get Your Accident and Injured Body Parts Accurately Documented in the Medical Records
One of the worst mistakes that an injured accident victim can make is not to describe in detail on his or her first visit to the doctor the facts of the accident. It is difficult to prove that you had an injury by accident which caused your need for medical treatment if there are no notes in the history section as to how the injury occurred. The same is true of “body parts.” Every time, especially the first time, you go to the doctor it is important you tell him every body part that has been injured as a result of the accident. If a body part is not mentioned, it will be cause for the insurance company to try to diminish your claim and deny responsibility for future treatment.
- Failing to Inform Your Doctor if Your Injury is Affecting Your Ability to Work
Insurance companies and juries will not believe that 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 caused by injury may be treatable and they should be noted in your medical records.
- 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 drug. Do not put yourself in the position where you have to admit that you chose not to follow your doctor’s advice.
- Stopping Medical Treatment Too Soon
Insurance companies and juries often believe if a person stops seeking medical treatment for an injury, the injury must be healed. 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 you have an injury that is affecting your ability to function, you should seek medical treatment until you are healed or until a doctor tells you that 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 to call 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/or disability can trigger depression and anxiety. Psychological conditions like depression and anxiety are just as real as broken bones. They cannot be overcome without appropriate treatment. A person who causes another person physical injury 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 that 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.
Stuart A. Carpey, who has been practicing as an attorney since 1987, focuses his practice on complex civil litigation which includes representing injured individuals in a vast array of personal injury cases.