Accidents are not planned for. We don’t wake up in the morning thinking that after we go grocery shopping we will be t-boned by a truck at the intersection. The accident happens and you find yourself in a flood of paperwork, phone calls, and appointments. You never really have a chance to center yourself and properly prepare for any of this. This post is intended to help with one aspect of that whirlwind: your personal injury doctor’s appointment and, particularly, what you should say to your physician.
Honesty is the Best Policy
When it comes to being completely truthful with your personal injury doctor or car accident doctor, it is more than your quality of health that is at play. Yes, informing your doctor about your history of back problems will lead you to be properly treated, but failing to disclose this history will affect your credibility in your case, and that is one of your most important tools.
Additionally, your honesty with your doctor can affect your private life. How? Well, if the opposing counsel or insurance company believes that you are lying about a disability or injury they are well within their rights to hire private investigators to follow you and even photograph you without your knowledge.
If that weren’t enough to convince you to be open and honest with your injury doctor, then consider that insurance companies share all of their claims in one giant claim database. If you are lying about any past injury, if it was related to another car accident or injury you will not be able to prevent the insurance company from finding out about it.
Tell the Personal Injury Doctor Everything
This is kind of related to telling the truth, but an omission is not always a lie (that does NOT mean you should start “forgetting things.” What we mean by this is that even the most trivial pain, discomfort, or symptom you experience after an accident should be told to your doctor. Do you consider you head hitting the steering wheel after that slight fenderbender to be “light” and not really an issue? That doesn’t matter. You should still tell your car accident doctor about it. Even if you think the discomfort will go away in a few days, in order to get properly compensate for your injury, your injury doctor needs to know about it. If that light head injury turns out to be a serious brain injury months down the line, the insurance company will have more of an argument as to why it’s not related than if you had mentioned it to your injury doctor in the first place.
Again, this kind of falls under the overarching theme of honest, follows what we have discussed already, but you would be surprised at how many people forget this once they are in the personal injury doctor’s office. Is it numbness? Tingling? A stabbing pain? Pain comes in various forms and the kind of pain you feel is just as important as where it is. It can be the difference between a bruise and a fracture, and the compensation to be had with it. The more particular you are in the description of your pain the better the injury doctor’s assessment of your injury, which helps your personal injury attorney make a better assessment of your case.
Ask About Tests and/or Specialist
Yes, your injury doctor went to med school for eight years not because they enjoyed drowning themselves in coffee during late night study sessions, but to help you. Deferring to their knowledge is the natural thing to do. Still, it does not hurt your case to ask your personal injury doctor if there are any tests or specialists to whom you can be referred to pinpoint the diagnosis. For instance, soft tissue injuries are hard to prove and the defense lawyers will hammer your attorney on that, but if you have a positive lab result from an x-ray, EMG or other test, you have ammo to fire back at them with.
Regarding specialists, the more authoritative an opinion you can get on the topic, the better. Your injury doctor probably does not do knee surgeries, so if you can get an orthopedic surgeons opinion on the effects of that slip and fall you have, once again, put the heat on the other side.
Inability to Work
If your injury has affected your ability to work, it is vitally important that you tell this to your personal injury doctor. Injury doctors are not mind readers (unfortunately), so unless they are also your regular doctor they may not realize that your back injury will affect your ability to drive around town all day. Not telling your injury doctor, and therefore allowing them to document it completely, may be the difference between full compensation and partial compensation from your insurance company for lost wages.
Anxiety or Depression?
This one may not be obvious upfront because you are, or should be, seeing your injury or car accident doctor as soon as possible after the accident. All the same, if at any point in time after your initial consultation you realize that you have anxiety or depression, bring it up at your next appointment. After discussing it with your personal injury doctor, you may discover that these issues have been present since the initial shock of the accident. Your mental health and recovery are tied directly to your physical health and recovery.
What You SHOULDN’T Tell or Do With Your Doctor
Equally important to your case is what should not be discussed with your personal injury doctor. First and foremost, do not discuss your case with your injury doctor outside of what is necessary for your recovery. Your case should be handled by your lawyer and while many things discussed with your doctor will be confidential and protected, not everything will be necessarily. Additionally, if you let your personal injury doctor know that your medical condition is in relation to a law suit, it could affect prognosis. To be safe, stick to discussions relevant to your injury.
Finally, don’t stop going to your appointments or following your personal injury doctor’s advice. As we said earlier, they weren’t in med school for the coffee and stress. Your injury doctor is there to help you recover, and the more you see them, the better they can assess your injury and recovery. This, in turn, helps your personal injury attorney win your case. If you have any additional questions, contact our office.