The biggest component of your personal injury claim is your medical treatment. It is extremely important that you seek out prompt medical attention if you are hurt. Your pain and suffering, and the total value of your claim for that matter, hinges on the total amount of your medical bills and the type and quality of medical treatment. Any delay or “gap in treatment” between the date of accident and the time you see a doctor will be used by the insurance company to argue you were not hurt because if you really were hurt you would not have waited to see a doctor.
You need to know up front that adjusters look to your medical records for all the information regarding your injuries and pain and suffering. When it comes time to make your demand, the adjuster will not consider any claim for injuries or pain/suffering unless it is mentioned in your medical records. If it is not in your records, it didn’t happen. Knowing this should change how you talk to your doctors – provide details and be thorough.
You may need to pay back (i.e. reimburse) your insurance company what it has paid on your behalf if you collect a settlement from the at-fault driver. Your insurance policy will control whether this is the case. If an adjuster or some other administrator is saying you need to pay it back, make them show you the provision in your insurance policy that says you have to.
For those of you who are extremely detail oriented and proactive, you can also obtain a copy of your health insurance policy. Compare it with your MedPay coverage to see if one of them does not require reimbursement. If one does not require it, then use that one to pay for your treatment because it will result in you keeping more of your settlement by not having to reimburse someone for the benefits you received.
Getting Your Injuries in the Medical Records
When you are getting medical treatment:
- Tell doctors about ALL your injuries. You want to do everything possible to get all your injuries listed in the doctor’s notes/records. If the injury is not in the records, it did not happen and the adjuster won’t consider it. If you forget to tell the doctor about an injury for a couple of visits and then remember, the adjuster will say this is a gap and being used as an excuse to build a bigger claim (i.e. you are lying to add on more injuries to bolster your claim). The best thing to do is get all your injuries down in your record on the first visit or when you first begin to feel them.
- If you have hard injuries (broken bones, joint injuries, herniated discs) you need to ask your doctor about the long term effects, such as arthritis or limited mobility as you age. You want to do this for three reasons. First, you want to understand for your own purposes of knowing what you are up against in the future. Second, you want to understand the consequences so you can put them in your demand as future pain and suffering and be able to argue with the adjuster about the value of such long term consequences. Third, you hope the doctor puts something down in your chart discussing the long term effects, such as permanent impairment ratings, so the adjuster sees it documented when he/she reviews your records.
- You shouldn’t tell the doctor to write down stuff. You just need to mention everything possible so that the doctor hears it and will hopefully note it in your chart. The night before seeing your doctor, take an inventory of all your aches, pains, and injuries. Take that list with you to your appointment.
Get and save copies of all your bills, even if they are being submitted to a health insurance company. These will serve as an important double-check when you go to put together your information to the adjuster.
Do Not Give Your Records to the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Company
A common tactic by insurance companies in lawsuits is to ask people for medical records. If you send your medical records to the other driver’s insurance company, you are taking risks. Some of those risk are as follows:
- The records you send may or may not be accurate.
- They may or may not relate to the injury you suffered in the wreck.
- They may or may not help you achieve a fair result.
Another reason insurance companies ask you for your medical records is trickier. If the other driver’s insurance company asks you for records and you send them yourself, you are showing the insurance company you do not have an attorney. You are also showing that you do not know what you’re doing. These are great reasons for the insurance company to take advantage of you as much and as quickly as possible. Insurers make fair offers to injury victims when those insurers are forced to. When you do not have a lawyer, you do not force insurers to do anything. You are at their mercy. Get a proven personal injury lawyer to protect your rights. Your lawyer is best qualified to make the important decisions about your records.
We’re Your Advocate
Who is allowed to see your records? What information should you reveal? Who shouldn’t you provide them to? How do you know if your doctor is thoroughly documenting your injuries?
Call Attorney David Brauns so he can evaluate your case. Talk to him about your accident and injuries. He’ll give you his opinion and a few pointers. If he feels you can handle your case yourself, he’ll let you know. If your case is complicated, he’ll let you know. Together you can discuss the best option for YOU. He will personally talk with you over the phone without cost or obligation of any kind regarding your injury claim. Call 404-418-8244.