Biggest Mistakes Injured Victims Make with Post-Accident Medical Care
When you are hurt in any type of accident, your first priority is your health. It is critical to seek proper medical care, which may vary depending on the nature of your injuries. The University of Maryland Medical Center provides some useful information on when to visit the emergency room versus an urgent care facility. Generally, the ER is for life-threatening bodily harm and conditions that require immediate surgery. You might consider an urgent care center if you are severely hurt and need same-day care. If your injuries are less serious, you may still want to visit your primary care physician within 72 hours after the accident if you are hurt.
Though many injury victims will get appropriate treatment in the immediate aftermath of an accident, they also sometimes make mistakes with respect to medical care decisions as they go through their recovery weeks and months after the initial trauma. These mistakes can impact future legal claim viability as well as carry an impact on their health and healing process. Here are the top mistakes victims make with post-accident medical care.
Skipping Doctor’s Appointments
When the insurance company handling your claim receives your medical records, the claims adjuster will review the information to see if you missed one or more appointments without good cause. Failing to attend a scheduled needed visit with your doctor gives the insurer grounds to make inferences and arguments like the following;
- You did not prioritize medical care among your concerns following the accident;
- You were not hurt as badly as you claim;
- You are not concerned with recovering from your injuries.
- You were not interested in mitigating your own suffering and pain by seeking reasonable care to alleviate it
Not Sticking to the Facts When Describing the Cause of Your Injuries
Any physician who treats you for your injuries will take a medical history from you. This involves asking what happened and gathering information about your condition prior to the subject accident. You should be cautious with the information you provide, since it could become part of your medical records and doctor’s notes – which will be accessible by the insurance company. If you do remember critical details that are relevant to your treatment, it is important to not forget to mention the information to your doctor. However, it is generally inadvisable to speculate or guess about facts of which you are not certain.
Failing to Fully Disclose Your Medical History
You should be completely honest with your treating physicians regarding your health history, as any omissions could affect the physician’s ability to properly diagnose and treat your condition. Further, doctors frequently rely upon past medical diagnoses and treatments in assessing complex medical conditions, so leaving out details could affect the care you receive. Fully disclose any previous injuries or illnesses, especially those that relate to the part of your body currently being treated. It is inadvisable to try and hide a pre-existing medical condition. Such actions can hurt your legal case and cause you to lose credibility with the adverse insurance carrier and ultimately with a judge or a jury. You can rest assured that at some point during the claims process, an insurance employee will question whether the treatment you had was reasonable and necessary based upon incomplete information. Furthermore, should it be necessary to file a lawsuit in your claim, know that your entire medical history and records may be made available to the Defendant’s lawyer by subpoena or even a court order. In such cases, competent defense attorneys will look for inconsistencies in the claimant’s medical histories and narrative accounts of the collision against actual past medical records.
Discussing Legal Issues with Your Healthcare Provider
Your doctor’s primary concern is treating your injuries. Physicians do not even need to know about an insurance claim or lawsuit in order to perform their jobs, and many will want to avoid becoming involved in litigation. Talking to healthcare provider about your legal issues might create unneeded pressure, or make your doctor less willing to cooperate in the event that he or she does need to participate in the suit. Additionally, statements made to the health care provider regarding liability, fault, or a claim itself may make it into the medical records. Try to remember that your statements can sometimes be used against you to impede your claims success.
Brushing Over Your Pain Levels and Limitations
You may try to be stoic or brave and not complain about your injuries, but such behavior does not really do you any service either medically or within the legal claim context. As discussed above, you need to be completely honest about your medical issues when speaking with your doctor. This honesty should extend to pain levels. To an insurer reviewing your medical records, the failure to address pain or discomfort can be tantamount to saying the injuries do not exist or are minor. The claims adjuster needs to read about your levels of pain and physical limitations, frequently and for as long as they last. Accordingly, always make sure your doctor is aware of your current pain levels and do not exaggerate or minimize these levels. Try to describe them as accurately as possible. Where applicable, it may be useful to use a pain scale to describe your pain, such as a scale from 1 to 10 – even if your physician does not specifically ask.
Not Cooperating with Your Physician and Specialists
Besides attending scheduled appointments, do your best to work together with your primary care physician or any treating specialists. It is inadvisable to be argumentative when discussing your doctor’s diagnosis, treatment plan, the doctor’s diagnosis or prognosis or prescription medications. Given the importance of your medical records, you do not want a strained relationship with a provider reflected in the notes. Especially, where your case may be disputed or litigation may become necessary and you will need your doctor to be an advocate for you.
Stopping Treatment Early
When patients contract certain illnesses, doctors will often prescribe a course of antibiotics to treat the illness. Patients will begin taking the antibiotics and then will stop taking them early without finishing the full course because they begin to feel better. Sure enough, this creates medical problems because the illness can return and the antibiotics lose their effectiveness. Thus, the doctors recommend to future patients to finish the course of treatment prescribed, even if they are feeling better. Similar but distinguishable issues can arise with treatment for physical injuries after a trauma. Even if you feel better after going through part of the course of treatment directed by your physician, do not cease with your at-home care responsibilities until you discuss these issues with your doctor. Sometimes, patients will think they are healed because they begin to feel better, only to several weeks later have a relapse in pain. Try to remember, the insurance company employee assessing your claim, may argue that your treatment discontinuation is evidence that your injuries have healed. Alternatively, discontinuity in treatment could even indicate that you reinjured yourself through some other event that is unrelated to the accident – which gives the adjuster grounds to deny your claim. It is always an advisable practice to defer to your physician’s recommendations and treatments plans and follow through on the same.
Failing to Accurately Document Your Experience
While much focus in a legal claim turns on medical records, you may still want to document notes about your own experiences during the recovery process. Write down all appointments, referrals to specialists, your in-home care routine, and any other details that you think may be relevant. Also, make sure to document your pain level and physical limitations. If your injuries affect your job or educational opportunities, note the impact on your personal and professional life. When your medical condition prevents you from engaging in favorite activities, document your feelings about diminished enjoyment of life with friends and family. These are important details in a claim for pain and suffering.
Talking to a Personal Injury Lawyer About Your Rights
If you have questions about post-accident medical care or want to know more about your legal options, please contact us. Our personal injury attorneys can also explain the important role your treatment plays in filing a claim for compensation. We are happy to schedule a free consultation to review your situation and discuss remedies against the party responsible for your injuries.