As a Gainesville, Florida Personal Injury Attorney, I often see legitimately injured people make these mistakes and then be unable prove their case and not receive the fair compensation that they deserve. Here are some of the common mistakes that you do NOT want to make if you want to win your personal injury case:
Failing to Seek Immediate Medical Attention after a Traumatic Event: In Florida, the victim is always responsible for proving that they were injured in an incident. Insurance companies and juries often believe that if you were not hurt badly enough to seek immediate medical attention that you were not hurt badly enough to be compensated. It is important to seek medical care and not just ignore the pain or think it will get better with time. Imagine how you would feel if you ended up going to trial over your accident, only to hear the attorney for the insurance company open his argument with, “He didn’t even see a doctor for two weeks!”
Failing to Be Totally Honest About Your Past Medical History and Habits with Your Doctor: Doctors or health care providers will ask you if you have had any previous injuries or illness before your accident. It is very important to be honest when answering these questions. It is important because it will allow the doctor to make a more accurate diagnosis and then be able to prescribe a more therapeutic course of treatment for you. Also, not being fully honest will only hurt your legal case. If you provide your doctor with incomplete information, their medical opinions could be rejected by the insurance company and by a jury. Another thing to be honest about is the extent of damages to your vehicle from the accident. For example, do not tell your doctor the car was “totaled” when it was only scratched. It will all catch up with you and destroy your case. Be Honest!
Talking With Your Doctor About Lawsuits or a Lawyers Advice: Your doctor’s job is to focus on your medical care and he or she does not need to know about your legal issues. Not only is it unnecessary to share this information with your doctor, it can negatively impact your medical care and your legal case. Most doctors do not want to be involved in a lawsuit, and may even be unwilling to provide treatment or reach important conclusions if they find out. Remember: Whatever you say in confidence to a doctor is not confidential at all once you file a personal injury claim!
Missing or Showing up Late for Medical Appointments: Insurance companies and juries get to see your medical records. When you skip a medical appointment, your medical record just says “NS” which means “No Show”. You may have had a very good reason for not showing up for an appointment, but generally excuses, no matter how valid, usually do not make it into the record. More than one or two “No Show” entries could make it look like you were not committed to getting better or that you were feeling fine. Skipping appointments or showing up late for appointments could also irritate your doctor. Irritated doctors do not make good witnesses for their patients. If you need to cancel an appointment, make sure to call at least 24 hours before, if not earlier, and reschedule. You don’t want the insurance company’s lawyer saying, “It must not have hurt that much, he didn’t even show up for his appointments.”
Failing to get Your Pain Accurately Documented in Your Medical Records: Insurance companies and juries will not believe you are in pain just because you say so. They need to read about your pain in your medical records. When insurance companies and juries review your records, they will be looking to see how soon you reported pain after an injury and how long you continued to report that pain. One easy way to make sure your pain and limitations do make it into your chart is to write it down before your appointment (or keep a daily journal) and then give it to your doctor at your visit. Keeping a journal is also helpful for times when you may be having a good day on the day of your visit and you tell the doctor you are “much better”, but for the last two weeks you may not have been able to get out of bed. Do not exaggerate, be honest.
Failing to Inform Your Doctor if Your Injury is Affecting Your Ability to Work: Insurance companies and juries will not believe that your injury effects your ability to work just because you say so. If your injury is effecting your ability to work, it is important to tell this to your doctor and get it into your medical records. Again, keeping notes to give your doctor can be a good idea.
Failing to Take Medications as Prescribed: There is a reason why doctors prescribe a particular type of medication for a particular period of time. It is important to follow your doctor’s recommendations. If you are having side effects or problems with the medication, call your doctor and speak with him or her about it. Do not play doctor with your medical care. Do not put yourself in the position where you may have to admit that you chose not to follow your doctor’s advice. It can be devastating to your claim.
Stopping Medical Treatment Too Soon: Insurance companies and juries often believe if a person stops getting medical treatment for an injury, the injury must be all better. They also believe that big gaps between treatments suggest that someone must have heeled from one injury and suffered a new injury unrelated to the first. If you have an injury that is effecting your ability to function, you should seek medical treatment until you are healed or until a doctor tells you that there is nothing more that can be done to improve your condition.
Failing to Follow Treatment Recommendations Related to Depression or Anxiety: Often pain or disability can cause depression or anxiety. This is real and common and can respond to medical intervention. It is also important to talk to your doctor about these symptoms so it is in your medical record and to follow any treatment prescribed by your doctor. Remember: If it isn’t in your medical records, it is difficult to prove to insurance companies or juries that this “suffering” exists at all!
Failing to Keep a Personal Medical File: It is important that your lawyer knows every medical care provider you have seen and every procedure that you have done after an injury. It is also important that you keep track of all doctors’ orders, treatments, referrals, and work restrictions. The easiest way to do this is just to make and maintain a file folder to help yourself, your lawyer, and your case by keeping track of all your medical care.
Seven Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Florida Accident Case, written by Attorney, Jeffrey Meldon, is a consumer guide book for accident cases in Florida. Whether you have been in an accident or not, this book contains valuable information for you! To get your free copy, contact us and request that it be sent to you free of charge or you can request it immediately on line. All free of charge and with no obligation.