Does not Seek Medical Treatment
This is the number 1 mistake personal injury patients make after a car accident. Personal Injury Attorneys and Insurance adjusters will look at your claim and deny you representation or compensation. Injured parties seek medical care, it’s that simple. If you don’t see a doctor you will not have any type of injury claim. You have to prove that your injury, no matter how minor it is, came from your car accident. Furthermore, if you wait 2 weeks to seek a doctor after your car accident, no one will believe your injury came from the accident.
Minor pain or stiffness should never be ignored. What may seem minor could turn into something major in time. Chronic pain may persist long after the accident has occurred. If you can’t find a doctor to see you after your car accident, go to the ER. Make sure to seek medical treatment ASAP after any personal injury.
One reason people don’t seek medical treatment is because they care concerned about the medical bills. Medical Bills in personal injury cases are usually held until the case settles. Treatment is usually offered through an attorney’s lien or by other means. So not seeking medical treatment is no excuse.
Self Treatment and documentation
I have heard of some people not wanting to see a doctor after an accident because they think they can do it all themselves. Telling the insurance company you hurt your back, but you did not see a doctor is not going to produce impressive results. The medical adjuster isn’t just going to take your word that you are injured; you have to have something to back it up. That something would be medical documentation from your doctor.
Waits to seek treatment or Gaps in Treatment
Many personal injury patients have gaps in medical care after an auto accident. They may wait to seek medical treatment or have large gaps in treatment which doesn’t look good to anyone looking at your personal injury case. Going to the ER and then seeing a doctor a month later will not make a good case for you being hurt. Make sure to have no gaps in treatment and to seek medical attention immediately.
Does not follow through with doctors appointments
Some personal injury patients miss appointments and have not good excuse for doing so. Furthermore, when the insurance company gets your medical records and sees all the missed appointments, it really hurts your credibility. You will essentially be in the hot seat. Your injuries, no matter how severe, will not seem so severe to the adjuster, attorney or jury. A personal injury patient needs to follow through with all of the doctor’s appointments. This in turn will help you recover faster, and help your case.
Do not miss appointments and do not be late to your appointments. Your doctor has you scheduled and has allotted time to treat you. He may have other patients he needs to see. However, if you are late, it may cut into someone else’s time with the doctor or put the doctor behind schedule for the rest of the day.
Make sure to call the doctor’s office if you cannot make your appointment or you are running behind. They can reschedule you or know that they need to give more time if you are running behind. It’s courteous and it keeps your doctor happy.
Your medical records will certainly show when you did not show up for treatment. An excessive pattern of no shows does not look good to anyone, especially if you are claiming injury. Your personal injury attorney and others may look at this pattern and think “he or she must not be hurt that bad if they won’t show up to appointments. You will also recover faster by showing up to all your scheduled appointments.
Stops medical treatment before being released
It is not common, but some patients just flat out stop going to see the doctor. They may feel they have gotten better and no longer need to continue treatment, so they just stop going. However, when you do this, there are several things to remember.
- You may not be completely healed
- You are hurting your attorney’s chances at getting you a settlement that is reflective of your injury
- Your injury may get worse after you stop treatment. And, if you try and go back after you have stopped, your doctor may not want to see you. He may view you as a problem or a waste of resources.
- It’s unlikely, but you may be responsible for some of your medical expenses because you did not follow through with your treatment.
It’s never a good idea to stop your own medical treatment. Your doctor should be the one that decides when you have reached maximum improvement and treatment will no longer help you, or you have fully recovered. Make sure if you have an issue or concern to speak with your doctor and give him the opportunity to fix it. Never just stop your treatment.
Fails to disclose previous injuries or chronic issues
On an intake form at every personal injury doctor’s office they have a section for previous injuries, surgeries, medications, etc. You need to tell your accident doctor everything that he asks you for and be 100% honest. Never lie to your doctor and never leave out things that you deem not important. Your doctor needs to know everything for documentation of your personal injury. If you have an old injury that was healed and now is reinjured in your current car accident, he needs to know. If you have had back problems in the past, your doctor needs to know.
You have a medical file floating out there. The insurance company more than likely will know about your previous injuries. If you don’t disclose these to your current doctor, how will that reflect on you? Your credibility will be in question and your personal injury attorney will have a tougher time proving your injury came from your current car accident. So, make sure to disclose everything to your doctor and your attorney. Your attorney and doctor are there to help you, not hurt you.
Makes their injuries appear or feel worse than they really are
How many of us have seen someone rolling on the ground acting like they are dying and they only have a scratch. Don’t make your pain level a 10 if it’s only a 5. It’s clear in some injuries how painful they would be, such as
- Broken bones
- Compound fractures
- Bulging disk
These injuries would be very clear on X-rays, MRI’s or Ct-Scans. However, not all soft tissue injuries can be seen. The level of pain you are in may directly relate to how much medication you may be given. If you are making your injury worse than it is, you may be over medicating. It does not help your personal injury case at all by making your injury appear worse than it really is.
Fails to follow the doctor’s advice
Following the doctor’s advice is not only a good idea, but it may help you personal injury case out as well. Your personal injury doctor may want to take you out of work for a few days to help you recover faster. It would be wise to follow this advice.
No one wants to be out of work for days or weeks because the doctor told you to do it. However, if it’s for your own health and recovery, you might need to follow that advice. Maybe you do a physically demanding job and require you to use a part of your body that is already injured. If you continue to work, you could exacerbate the injury more by not following the advice of the doctor. Furthermore, this may cause the insurance company to devalue your personal injury claim. You made your injury worse by not following the doctor’s advice. There are options for you if you are missing work and need to make money to pay bills. Although, some of these options are not the best, but they help you in a pinch.
Failure to take medication that was prescribed
If you have an issue with a certain medicine or that medicine does not agree with you, let the doctor know. He does have the ability to change the medication level. He may also put you on a different type of medication all together. If the medication does not agree with you, call your doctor ASAP so it can be addressed.
Does not get the medical documentation needed to prove injury
It’s important when you see the doctor to tell him everything. What I mean by that is, if you are not feeling well, or you are hurting in a certain area, tell the doctor about it. What you think may be minor thing could be a huge mistake if you don’t say something about it. If you have multiple injuries, your focus may be on the most painful one. Make sure the other injury is not forgotten about.
I will give you a perfect example of failing to get all the medical documentation in a motorcycle accident. The documentation that was left out was of my lower back.
I had a motorcycle accident when I was 22 years old. I had a compound fracture of the tibia and the fibula. Yes, I know, pretty gross, and very painful. The doctors at the ER where very focused on what they could see, which was bones sticking out of my leg. I went in for immediate surgery and they patched up my leg. When you break your shin bone, it’s a long ordeal. It is one of the slowest healing bones in your body.
Flash forward a few years. My lower back has always hurt when I do physically demanding things. The pain was not bad enough for me to believe that it was normal with age. I always heard of older guys saying there back hurt all the time. Flash forward a few more years (my 40’s). My lower back hurt a little more and more and sometimes would have sharp stabbing pains when I turned a certain way. Finally saw a friend who was doctor and had an MRI done. I have a compression fracture in my lower lumbar that is very old, the doctor guessed about 20 years old. This injury, more than likely, occurred during the motorcycle accident.
The doctors were so focused on what they could see on the outside, they forgot to check everything else. I can’t really say it’s their fault, my back really didn’t hurt. However, my leg hurt really bad.
Does not see the right Doctor
Many personal injury victims go see their PCP or family doctor to start with. They usually get discouraged after that first visit. Because, the doctor will tell them they don’t treat personal injury or car accidents. Even if they will see you, they may not give you the medical documentation you need to prove your injury came from the incident.
You need to see a doctor that treats and documents personal injuries. In the years we have been providing doctors for accident victims we have seen an increase in specialist that will treat personal injury patients. Many years ago you could only find chiropractors who treated personal injuries.
However, chiropractors got smart and had what I like to call medical affiliations with doctors who otherwise would not treat personal injuries. You could go see the chiropractor; he would then send you out to a specialist if you needed specialized care. This is still normal in most of the major metropolitan areas.
In major cities across the United States, it’s becoming easier to get specialized care for personal injury patients. I can only imagine the doctors who provide this care started looking at returns on health insurance patients and returns on personal injury patients and decided to make a change to the latter. Personal injury patients have access to more specialized medical care and services that they did not have 15 years ago.
Fails to keep a diary or a file
Diaries or daily journals tell your doctor and your attorney how you feel every day. You can list all your activities that you can no longer do or have trouble doing. It’s a good idea to write down all the dates of your doctor’s appointments and how you felt that day and what hurts on your body. Failure to do this necessarily doesn’t hurt your personal injury case. However, it does give your attorney an insight on your daily life and how the accident has affected it. He then can build a stronger case against the insurance company.
It’s also important to document how your injuries have affected your everyday life. Maybe you can’t kneel or stoop down. You find it hard to go up or down stairs. You may not be able to perform your household duties on a given day. Make sure to keep track of everything and how this accident has affected your everyday life. Attorneys like organization and documentation. It makes you more creditable in the eyes of the insurance company and your personal injury attorney.
Fails to disclose all injuries, pains, or discomfort to the doctor
You need to disclose every pain you feel or discomfort. Just because you may think its minor doesn’t mean you should not tell your doctor. A minor discomfort could turn into a major problem down the road. Make sure to tell your doctor about any discomfort, no matter how minor you think it may be. Your doctor needs to be aware of everything that is wrong with you, no matter how minor you think it is
Failure to address Mental Health
Car accidents can be traumatizing for some adults and children. You need to make sure to address any anxiety or depression after the accident. Children in some instances are afraid to ride in any car, or a particular type of vehicle. Furthermore, adults may suffer this same type of anxiety. These types of mental health issues need to be addressed and documented. Some people may feel embarrassed or think it normal to feel this way and this is why they don’t tell their doctor or attorney about this condition.
Anxiety after your car accident is more common than people think. Make sure to discuss and disclose any mental health issues with your doctor and attorney so it can be documented and treated accordingly.
Children really have a hard time with after car accidents. They may need to seek counseling or other services to be able to get over the fear of riding in a car again. The fear for children and adults is real and so is the anxiety. Please make sure if you are affected in this way to get it addressed properly.
Ask for Legal Advice from the doctor
The doctor becomes a lending ear for personal injury patients. He hears everything from the injuries they suffer to the job the attorney is doing for them. Your doctor’s job is to get you better after a car accident and to make sure your injuries are addressed. He is not a lawyer, nor can he give you any legal advice. I think the biggest gripe doctors hear about is the attorney’s performance or lack of. Asking the doctor what he thinks of a lawyer’s performance and what their attorney should be doing is not what the doctor is for.
The doctor is there to treat you and get you to your pre accident condition, not to give you any legal advice.
Common mistakes when dealing with doctors after your car accident
Don’t make these mistakes when dealing with your doctor after a car accident. You only hurt your chances at a full recovery, or hurt your chances with a personal injury claim. Your attorney needs to know everything about your injuries and you need to be honest about it, the same goes for your doctor.
We are here to help you in the event you need a doctor after a car accident