Get the Most out of Your Medical Consultation
In previous articles — for example, this piece — we’ve discussed how proper documentation proves invaluable in the aftermath of a car accident. This is especially true in any accident that causes personal injury. The full scope of documentation may include police reports, photos of the accident (including damage to vehicles and physical injuries), doctor’s reports, disability slips, records of work missed and receipts for every single bill you pay.
A visit to a doctor — advisedly your first destination after leaving the scene of the accident — will be your number-one resource for personal injury documentation. Below are our recommendations for maximizing both your professional care and evidence to build a strong personal injury case.
Don’t dismiss the small symptoms. When you report your involvement in a car crash to paramedics, hospital staff and doctors, take extra care to identify specific complaints. Don’t dismiss any symptoms you have, no matter how minor they may seem. A dry mouth, slight headache or a little dizziness may be evidence of something more serious. Reporting anything that feels abnormal will assist your doctor in making an informed diagnosis and giving his or her professional opinion on your bill of health. The proper documentation of symptoms on your initial visit will also help to validate that the injury is a result of your recent accident, and not a complication that arose at a later point in time.
Tell your doctors every place you hurt. You must be careful to tell any doctor who treats you about every part of your body that’s in pain. This information becomes part of your medical records. Oftentimes an accident victim will only mention the one part of the body that hurts the most. Months later, after the initial injuries have been addressed, it will be very difficult to convince an insurance company that any lingering injuries not mentioned in early medical records were caused by the accident.
Get a doctor’s disability note for missed work. In workers compensation cases, Florida medical providers use a standardized form called the Medical Treatment Status Reporting Form to inform an employer of an injured employee’s disability, permanent impairment or need for continuing medical treatment. For injuries that aren’t work-related, however, a doctor should still document his or her professional consultation about your return to work in a disability slip. A disability slip advises an employer when the medical provider believes an employee’s medical status prevents him or her from doing any work, or that the employee can only work in a restricted capacity. At minimum, your doctor should list the nature of your physical limitations and the scheduled date for your next evaluation. You will then submit this document to your employer.
Save your bills and receipts. Any earnings that are lost, whether through actual deductions of pay or through the use of vacation or sick time, are recoverable — but only if they have been documented through medical and employment records. If you don’t save your bills and receipts, you will not be able to prove the amount of your damages. If you cannot prove the amount, you cannot recover these expenses. Be sure to save everything: doctors’ bills, hospital bills, pharmacy bills and all other medical expenses you incurred from the accident. Immediately give all bills to your attorney, so he or she may deal directly with the medical and insurance providers on your behalf.
Stick to your follow-ups. Even if you feel right as rain in the weeks following an accident, don’t skip any follow-up medical appointments. Doing so may create the false impression that your injuries weren’t serious, that you weren’t making your best effort to get well, or that you made your injuries worse by failing to adhere to the recommended treatment. Follow your doctor’s advice. This means committing to an individual treatment plan for appointments and therapies. Not only will this validate your personal injury claim, but you will begin to feel better sooner by minimizing your discomfort more quickly.
Lastly, remember that you don’t have to go through this alone. At Wittmer & Linehan PLLC, our attorneys are available to provide strong support and expert legal counsel throughout the entire process of recovery from a car accident. If we can serve you or a loved one, don’t hesitate to call us today.