If you are injured in an accident, you must keep in mind two very important goals:
- To recover from your injury by getting the best medical care possible.
- To recover the most amount of money to pay for all your medical care, loss of income, and pain and suffering.
To achieve both of these goals, you have certain duties and there are many things that you should know and many steps that you should take. Your doctor and lawyer can only achieve the best results with your help. The best doctor and the best lawyer in the world will not achieve the maximum result possible unless you take the following steps.
Be Thorough in Reporting Your Complaints
In the first appointment, regardless of the doctor’s specialty, tell him all of your complaints from head to toe. Be as thorough as possible. Some minor symptom, such as stiffness or headache or dizziness could be an early symptom of a much greater problem. If months later that problem becomes more severe, your attorney can prove it was related to the accident because you immediately had complaints in that area of your body. A common example of that is spinal injury such as disc herniation. In patients who suffer from back and neck pain, most doctors try months of physical therapy and medications before an MRI is recommended to rule out spinal injury. However, if the patient complained of radiating pain or numbness and tingling early on in the course of his or her treatment, an attorney can prove the disc damage which is detected months later is a result of the accident. Important Note: Pain that radiates to the arms, legs and across the shoulders as well as a sensation of numbness or tingling in arms, fingers, legs and toes are early signs of spinal injury. If you have these symptoms, tell your doctor immediately.
Preserve the Evidence
Take photos of wounds, lacerations, bruises, and all other physical evidence of your injury. A bruise may fade in a day. Buy a disposable camera if you have to. Also take photos of the damage to your car, broken glass, debris, skid marks, the other party’s car and other physical evidence. Such things are cleaned or may never be available later on.
Sometimes independent witnesses can make the difference in a case. Get the names, addresses, and phone numbers of anybody who witnessed your accident, even if the other person is admitting the accident is their fault. Often times, the person who caused an accident will change their story later. Having the ability to prove through independent witnesses that an accident happened the way you say it did can be the difference between winning and losing.
Keep a Journal
From the time of your accident to the time you fully recover or to the time your case goes to trial, many important details will be forgotten. The day that you sat there and watched your friends ski but couldn’t do it yourself because of your pain may not be a significant day in your life. But remembering that experience and telling the jury how you felt that day will draw a more compelling picture in the jurors mind than any doctor can paint by describing your injury in medical terms. Keep a journal and write in it your daily experiences, restrictions, and pain. Share this information with us so that we may better understand the full extent of your harm. That will enable us to convey it better to the jury or whoever we are settling your case with.
Continue Your Treatment
If you stop going to the doctors for whatever reason, the jury will most likely assume you were feeling fine and didn’t need any treatment. It will also take longer for you to recover from your injury. Your reasoning for not going may be money, school, kids, not having a car, not having time, etc. Your health is more important. Furthermore, by consistently treating, your attorney can prove the ongoing nature of your pain and suffering. If a certain type of treatment is not helping, talk to your doctor or us about other methods of treatment. Do not sit and wait for your doctor to refer you out to another specialist.
Many doctors have a difficult time giving up on you and believe they can eventually treat you. While that may be true, you owe it to yourself to get a second opinion from a specialist. If for example, your back pain has not resolved after a few weeks of physical therapy or chiropractic treatment, you should consult with an orthopedist or neurologist. So long as you are in pain, you need to consistently see your doctor and medical providers. If no treatment has proven helpful, only show up once a month and tell your doctor about your complaints. Ultimately, the main proof of your injury will be the visit to your doctor’s office.
See the Right Doctor
For different injuries, there are different doctors that you need to go to. For some injuries, you may need to see more than one type of doctor. The following general guideline may be used as a reference. However, do not heavily rely on it, as a physical examination by a doctor will be needed to truly determine which type of specialist is needed in your case.
- Neurologist – Severe consistent headaches, dizziness and vertigo, numbness, paralysis, loss of motion and/or feeling, loss of memory, loss of consciousness and/or change in cognitive functioning may require a neurologist’s analysis or testing.
- Orthopedist – Spinal injuries, severe and continuous neck and/or back pain, pain and discomfort in shoulder, knees, hands and feet as well as all broken bones or other spinal and bone related injuries usually require visiting an orthopedist.
- Psychologist / Psychiatrist – Anxiety, depression, withdrawal, fear, phobia, and other behavioral and mood related symptoms must be examined by a Psychologist or a Psychiatrist.
- Physical Therapist / Chiropractor – While the abovementioned doctors will treat patients by medication or surgery, most everyone who has muscle, tendon, ligament and spinal injury will benefit from a course of physical therapy and chiropractic treatment.
- Obviously there are many other specialists that have not been listed such as Opthalmologists, Otolayrngologists, Podiatrists, etc.
By following the above, you will have done your part in providing us with all the tools necessary to obtain for you the absolute maximum recover possible. Of course we do not want you to undergo any unnecessary treatment or examination as it will undermine the legitimacy of your injury claim as well as create unnecessary medical bills which may not be compensable.