Mistake #3: Missing Doctor Appointments or Having “Gaps” in Your Medical Treatment
If you don’t show up for your doctor appointments and it is noted in your medical records, it could hurt your case. Think about it. If you are injured, you are going to the doctor for your treatment to get better. If you miss doctor appointments, then some people believe your injuries are not that serious or your injuries were not that important to you. If you really cared about your injuries and they were bothering you that much, you would be diligent in making your doctor appointments.
Furthermore, if you have “gaps” in medical treatment, it becomes difficult to prove that your injuries are related to the original accident. The more time that passes between your injury and you receiving medical treatment, the more difficult it is to persuade a jury your injuries were caused by the accident. Likewise, if a doctor is treating you, but then have gaps in the treatment, some will question whether you were better and then something else happened which caused you to return to the doctor. Be diligent in your treatment with your doctor until such time as the doctor releases you. Your doctor is the professional in this area.
Mistake #4: Failing to Have Your Symptoms/Pain Accurately Documented in Your Medical Records
Doctors are historians by nature—writing down everything about you in the medical records. Those medical records will either help or hurt your case. All of us have gone to a doctor’s office. The routine is similar among doctors. The nurse takes you back to the examining room with your chart. When you get in the examination room, the nurse will take your vitals and document those in the chart. The nurse will usually also ask you some questions like, “how are you feeling,” “what is hurting you,” and similar open-ended questions. Then the doctor will come into the room, review the notes in the records, do a physical examination, and make more notations in your medical records.
This is not the time to be a hero. Rather, you need to talk openly with your doctor and/or nurse and let them know what is bothering you. Many times patients will report only the ailment that is troubling them the most. Don’t do that. If there is a problem, tell your doctor all your problems from the accident. If you are feeling bad and you tell your doctor, I’m doing O.K., that is probably what is documented in the medical records and it will be used against you at settlement or trial.
At a later date, your medical records will first be seen by the insurance adjuster working on your claim and if you go to trial, these medical records will be seen by the jury you are asking to award you money. If you don’t report a problem you are having until three months into the treatment with the doctor, others will be suspicious as to whether this was caused by the accident. Be open and honest with your doctor about your medical problems and don’t try to play “tough guy” or “gal” by diminishing your pain and/or problems.
In addition to ensuring your injuries are documented in medical records, you also want to document these injuries yourself. Pictures are an important part of documenting your injuries. This means you want to get photographs of your injuries soon after the injury. When you try to paint the picture of your injuries to a jury after all the cuts have healed, bruises have faded, and casts are removed, there is nothing better to help you convince a jury than photographs of you at the time of the injury. Don’t rely on the doctor or hospital to do this for you. If you are in the hospital or at home, you want family members or friends to take pictures of you so others will be able to see your injuries at a later date once you have healed.