Seeking Medical Treatment In A Personal Injury Claim
Of course, if your injury is severe enough, you will be taken to an emergency room as soon as possible. However, I always advise my clients to visit the emergency room on their own in the days following an accident. In fact, I cannot overstate the importance of seeking medical attention as soon as possible, regardless of how you may be feeling.
The importance of this is highlighted in one case I handled years ago where my client had a ruptured vein because of an accident he suffered – but he chose not to go to the emergency room. Unfortunately, he later passed away as a result. This is a tragic example of the dangers of failing to obtain medical assistance.
Emergency room professionals are trained to handle patients who suffer accidents, including vehicle accidents. They will assess your condition, conduct necessary tests such as x-rays, and determine if further treatment is required. If they discharge you and your pain worsens, it is essential to return for further evaluation.
Additionally, I advise my clients to come in for a consultation if they suffer minor injuries. I collaborate with chiropractors and massage therapists to provide them with appropriate care and minimize their discomfort. In certain instances, I may even be able to recommend specific doctors who can prescribe pain relievers for their injuries.
If injured, you should not neglect treatment and stay at home, as the severity of the injuries may worsen without proper care. This is important not only for your well-being but also for the strength of your legal case – if you delay seeking medical assistance, it becomes more challenging to establish a clear link between your injuries and the accident.
Sharing Information With Doctors
If you sustain injuries in an accident and require emergency treatment at the hospital, the doctors and nurses you encounter will need accurate information in order to properly assess and treat your injuries. As such, I strongly advise my clients to provide honest answers when interacting with the emergency room staff.
It would be counterproductive to withhold necessary information or be dishonest, as it may hinder your receiving the best care possible. Therefore, answering their questions openly and honestly is in your best interest. At this point, receiving immediate and proper medical treatment in a personal injury claim takes priority over the unfolding of your case.
Could your statements be used against you? Although a personal injury claim is not a criminal case, your statements will become part of the medical record and could be used to potentially harm your claim in court. For example, if you inform your doctor that you have been experiencing backaches for the past 20 years, they may conclude that the accident did not cause the injury, but that it was a pre-existing condition. On the other hand, if you had never sought treatment for your back aches before the accident, it can be argued that the pain you are currently experiencing is a direct result of the accident.
Regardless, honesty is vital when dealing with healthcare providers in the emergency room. By providing accurate information, you enable them to provide the most appropriate care for your injuries. While certain statements may become part of the medical record and could potentially be used against you, the context and timeline of your prior medical history will also be considered when determining the accident’s impact on your current condition – and, in any case, the most important thing is that you have access to the medical care you need.
Your Choice Of Ongoing Medical Treatment Providers
You may choose your own ongoing medical treatment provider throughout your personal injury claim. It is especially important to consult with an attorney when doing so, particularly in cases involving motor vehicle accidents, because there are some doctors who refuse to treat individuals involved in accidents or provide testimony.
If you have been in a motor vehicle accident and it may require testimony, it is essential to seek out a healthcare professional who is experienced in handling personal injury cases. They possess the necessary knowledge of the dynamics involved in such cases and understand how to effectively address and treat related pain and injuries.
Furthermore, the healthcare provider must be comfortable and willing to participate in hearings or provide deposition if required. If they are unwilling to do so, it can pose difficulties for your case as it progresses. While you have the right to choose your own medical providers for ongoing treatment, informing them that your injuries result from the accident is advisable. This upfront communication ensures that you avoid later surprises, such as finding out the provider is not willing to assist in your injury claim.
Following Medical Treatment Plans
Something I think is critical to keep in mind throughout a claim is this: My clients are both my clients and the patients of doctors. As such, they must follow the doctor’s instructions and comply with their treatment plan throughout their case. Not only does the doctor have the patient’s best interests in mind, but missing recommended sessions of physical therapy or chiropractic treatment, for example, can hinder recovery. What’s more, it’s important to understand how the legal concept called mitigation of damages comes into play.
Although it is not frequently invoked, there is a possibility that the defense could argue that if the patient had followed the doctor’s instructions and attended appointments, their condition would have improved or resolved. They may further claim that the patient contributed to their continued suffering by failing to get the treatment they needed.
This argument becomes relevant when the case enters the legal realm. Although there are legitimate reasons for missing appointments on certain occasions, such as illness or pressing family matters, consistent and unjustified absences raise questions about the patient’s commitment to their own well-being. If the patient claims to be in pain, but the records indicate consistently missed appointments, it can create doubt in the jury’s mind that the person making the claim didn’t take enough action to mitigate (or lessen) their damages.
This complex issue often requires careful consideration, therefore, avoiding such situations and remaining consistent with healthcare appointments is important. While some gaps in treatment can be reasonable, it is vital to communicate any changes or concerns with the healthcare provider. For instance, if a particular treatment is not yielding positive results, do not abruptly stop without discussing the issue with the provider. Such communication helps the provider understand the patient’s response and make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan, including ordering further diagnostic tests or referring to other specialists.
Paying For Expenses Caused By An Accident In The Interim
In cases where it is clear that you were not at fault, the liability coverage of the at-fault driver’s insurance company will typically be responsible for covering your medical expenses before a court rules on your case. Additionally, there are instances where the at-fault driver’s insurance may cover some expenses while your health or hospitalization insurance may cover others, while in other situations, Medicare may also provide coverage.
While the liability portion of the at-fault driver’s insurance will typically handle your medical expenses, there are scenarios where the limits of their policy may not be sufficient to cover all of your injuries and medical treatment. In such cases, there is a type of insurance called UM/UIM (Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist) coverage, which you would carry on your own policy. This coverage is designed to provide additional protection and generally covers the occupants of your vehicle when the at-fault driver’s insurance is inadequate.
A Note About Med-Pay Coverage
While the term “Med-Pay” is commonly used in Louisiana, it is similar to Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in other states. Med-Pay coverage provides immediate availability of funds, typically with limits such as $3,000, $5,000, or $10,000. In some cases, these limits can exceed $100,000. This coverage is designed to pay medical bills without questions or delays. Once you exhaust this coverage, you may then turn to your health insurance policy if you have one. If the available coverage is not sufficient to cover your expenses, you may need to explore additional options such as medical payments coverage or hospitalization coverage.
In any case, it is absolutely crucial to consult with a professional who can review your specific policy and circumstances to ensure you have a comprehensive understanding of your insurance coverage and maximize your use of it.
For more information on Medical Treatment In A Personal Injury Claim, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (337) 240-6697 today