When You are in an Automobile Accident -- Part II
I started Part l with the following sentence:
"I believe that if you understood what happens in a lawsuit you would act differently and more responsively during your efforts in the process of your case which, hopefully, would lead to a good recovery."
We covered a number of important areas in Part I of this article, including the definition of negligence, statements made at the scene, emergency room personnel, why not to give statements to an insurance company adjustor without our office preparing you and what you will say, selecting a physician who is very good in the area of concentration or specialty and are meticulous at writing down your complaints and details about your injuries, and that their opinions need to be stated to a reasonable degree of medical certainty or probability.
This supplementary article expands on important areas discussed in Part I and introduces new topics as well.
Here are some new areas:
1. Do not delay treatment. One factor insurance companies consider in their evaluation of a case is when the victim received his/her first treatment. If you have injuries that require immediate review and treatment, go immediately to the Emergency Room. Sometimes it can take a few days for injuries to become worse than they seemed to be at the scene of the accident. So, if an ambulance is there, let the ambulance personnel check you out, even if you don't feel any significant pain or think that you have suffered any serious injury. After the emergency medical technicians have initially examined you, then decide whether to go to emergency room or to your primary care physician. You could go to a walk-in clinic for purposes of saving time but, often, walk-in clinics do not have diagnostic equipment that hospitals have. Make sure to make an outline of all of your complaints so that you do not overlook areas of pain. If you have bruises, take photos of your physical injuries even if they are scrapes and black and blue marks. Make a backup copy.
2. Make follow-up appointments and keep them. I understand that some clients think that once they have told their physician about a complaint, they don't have to repeat it. If the complaint still exists, provide your doctor each time you visit that your complaint still persists and describe to the doctor when and what activity you were engaged in before the complaint occurs. We have clients complete our checklist to be certain that their physical complaints are expressed to their treating physicians, physical therapists, chiropractors and other medical personnel. As your condition improves, communicate how it has improved. We meet with clients to go over their complaints before they have follow up appointments. It is necessary for you to advise our office before you attend your follow up appointment so that we can talk. It is also very important that you schedule follow-up appointments when requested to do so by your medical provider, whether it be your physician, physical therapist, chiropractor, etc., and that you keep those appointments. Insurance companies will often try to use to their advantage
instances where the patient allowed long lapses in time to occur between follow-up appointments. If your medical provider puts in your medical record an instruction that you should "return in two weeks", then you should return in two weeks. If your physical therapist sets us a schedule for you of three times per week for four weeks, then it is important that you keep that schedule.
3. You need to be discharged from all treatment providers. Not obtaining a discharge raises a myriad of issues including but not limited to: If you are not at maximum medical treatment, your case should not be either settled or litigated unless you need to be protected by filing before the statute of limitations ends. The statute of limitations for negligence is three years. Filing beyond three years can result in a loss of the case. Insurance companies will view not being discharged as an indication that the injured party is not as injured as he or she alleges and/or is poorly motivated and may verbalize that issue during settlement negotiations or in court. If the person were really hurt, wouldn't they need to be discharged to make sure they have reached maximum medical improvement? Another issue about lack of being discharged deals with whether the individual has a permanent or partial injury. If the injury has long-term implications, an opinion on permanency needs to be expressed by the treating physician. Also, that opinion must be stated to a reasonable degree of medical certainty or probability.
4. Loss of income. Lost income must be documented by the treating physician as casually related to the accident and reasonable and necessary. If you are employed, our preprinted lost wage form needs to be prepared by your employer and, if you are self-employed, income tax records will need to be provided for recovery of lost wages.
Navigating a system for persons who have no experience dealing with this unknown and unfamiliar system is demanding but you having knowledge of the requirements combined with our management skills and knowledge will lead to much better results. We believe that your understanding of elements and requirements of the system will result in better outcomes.
We have over 30 years' experience dealing with issues and demands. See also our other topics on this website, including Personal Injury.
Fred Antenberg is located in Columbia, Maryland and provides legal services to Central Maryland and surrounding counties. Call Fred today for a free initial consultation. 410 730 4404.