How to Attend Doctor Evaluations after a Car Accident
Your attorney will be your best representative during most of your case, like in court or at mediation. But your attorney will likely not be with you when you go to doctor evaluations. This is one of the few times where you will be your own representative, so it is important to do your best.
Give an Accurate Description of Your AccidentThe police report, witness statements, accident reconstruction reports and deposition testimony will paint a picture of how your accident happened. However, your account of the accident will also appear in your medical records. Your doctors will ask you how you became injured and may ask you how your accident happened. They do this to help determine what caused your injuries. Your doctors will attempt to relate your injuries to the accident, and this is important because you will only be compensated for accident related injuries. Make sure you give a clear, accurate and truthful account of the facts of your accident because your doctor will likely use it to describe your accident in his/her reports. If your doctor's account of your accident does not match the rest of the evidence, the defendants may use it against you in court and during depositions. Thus, make sure your doctors understand how the accident happened and how you believe you came to be injured. For example, if you hit your head during a car accident and suffered a closed head injury, and your doctor states in his report that you did not suffer a head blow in the crash because you failed to report it, this will likely hurt your case.
Give a Thorough Explanation of Your InjuriesIn a personal injury case, only the injuries that your doctors are aware of will be considered by the defendants when evaluating your case. So if no one knows about an injury, you will not be able to recover for it. Therefore, it is important to disclose any symptom or injury to your doctors. Let your doctors decide if your injuries or symptoms are related to the accident. When in doubt whether or not to tell your doctor about an injury or symptom, err on the side of caution and disclose it during your medical examinations. Personal injury clients usually disclose the main injuries to their doctors, like neck and back pain, but often fail to disclose ancillary issues like headaches, urinary incontinence, loss of appetite, nightmares, etc. A traumatic accident can cause both bodily and mental injuries and can also cause internal injuries to your organs. So if you are suffering from any symptoms after an accident that you were not having before the accident, be sure to tell your doctor. Your doctor will better know why you are having the symptom and whether or not it is related to the accident.
Disclose Prior Treatment and InjuriesIn order to determine what has caused your injuries after an accident, your doctors will need to know what issues and injuries you had before your accident. Many clients think that if they had back or neck pain years before their recent accident, they will not be able to recover for similar injuries from their recent accident. This is not necessarily so because the defendants responsible for their recent accident are responsible for their new injuries, even if the injuries are only a worsening of a preexisting injury or condition. Furthermore, if you fail to disclose prior medical treatment and injuries to your doctors, the defendants' attorney will use your omission as a means of attacking your credibility. Do not fall into this trap! Disclose all of your medical treatment and injuries that you had before your recent accident. If you are in doubt whether you should disclose prior treatment or injuries, err on the side of caution and disclose it to your doctors and your attorney.
Be Punctual and Cooperate with Your DoctorsBe on time to your doctor appointments and cooperate with your doctors. Doctors are people too and can get mad at their patients. They may take out some of their anger on a tardy or uncooperative patient by writing a report that includes details that the client was late to his/her appointment or did not cooperate during the physical examination. Although these details may not kill your case, there is no reason to have negative comments from a doctor in his/her report if you can avoid it. Remember: A lot of the defendants' evaluation about the value of your case has to do with whether you will make a good trial witness. The defendants will reason that if the doctors like you, the jurors will like you too. This may result in offering you a larger settlement award to prevent the risk of a larger award by a jury at trial.
Ask Your Questions to the DoctorAgain, your attorney will not be with you during your medical examinations to ask questions. If you have questions about your medical treatment or injuries, do not wait to ask them to your attorney. Ask your doctor. Common questions that you may want to ask your doctor include:
1) How long will I likely have this injury?
2) How long will I need to be on medications?
3) What type of future medical needs will I have?
4) Will I need a surgery?
5) Do I have a permanent injury?
6) Will I have permanent work restrictions?
Getting your questions answered by your doctors will help you understand your condition and give some peace of mind about your future. It will also help you advise your attorney about your medical treatment. You can be your own medical evidence to your attorney if you are able to provide him/her important information about your medical needs. This will help your attorney argue your case.
Be Honest!The importance of being honest to all of your doctors can never be overemphasized. In personal injury cases, the defendants will go on a painstaking hunt for evidence to use against you. If you create inconsistencies in your medical records by failing to disclose prior injuries or misrepresenting facts about your case, you will give the defendants ammunition to use against you. It is important to create a consistent record of your medical history. You have a lot to do with that because your doctors will get a large portion of the content for their reports from the answers you give them to their questions. So do yourself and your attorney a favor and tell the truth.