Talking to doctors after a car accident
It is common for people to slip and fall on a poorly maintained sidewalk during an icy Vermont winter. After a slip and fall injury, you may need to file a lawsuit to pay for your medical expenses and lost wages.
In today’s video, Burlington injury attorney, Drew Palcsik discusses what you need to do if you’ve been injured because of an icy or snowy sidewalk.
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Today, we will talk about the difference between criminal and civil law.
Many people who have been in a car accident, wonder if the other driver was found guilty of drunk driving if they have a slam dunk accident case.

The answer is yes, and no.

The insurance company may agree the other driver was at fault but argue you were not injured or injured that badly. Learn how a guilty verdict in a criminal court case can impact your civil case.

Talking to your doctors after a car accident
Video Transcript

 

Talking to doctors and medical records after an accident

Hi, it’s Drew from Champlain Valley Law. In today’s video, we’re going to talk about what to say and what not to say when talking to your doctors after a car accident.

Now at this point, you may be wondering to yourself, why is a lawyer talking to me about how I speak with my doctor?

Great question.

I’m not here to suggest that your doctors aren’t going to be on your side when it comes to your case. There are some doctors who are willing to go to bat for their clients when it comes to helping out with their legal claim.

On the other hand, there are some doctors who don’t want anything at all to do with their client’s case. We just don’t know in advance.

What I really want to focus on in this video is how you can make sure that your medical record accurately reflects how you were hurt and how you’re recovering.

 

The reason this is so important is that medical records get things wrong a frightening amount of the time, and the primary reason for this is that doctors are focused on what they need to know to diagnose and treat you. They’re usually not thinking about the ways insurance companies are going to be using their records years later to try to deny you a fair outcome to your claim. But with a little effort on your part, you can avoid many of the common pitfalls that can sink an injury claim.

Believe it or not, an insurance company can settle an injury claim without ever speaking to the person who was hurt. We actually have a video on giving statements to insurance companies and why it’s a bad idea, and you can see that for more information on how this works. Believe it or not, the insurance company doesn’t want to hear directly from you about what your symptoms are or how the injury’s affecting your life. They look to your medical record to answer those questions for you. The thing to keep in mind is that if it doesn’t show up in your medical record, it’s as if it didn’t happen, unless there’s something in there that an insurance company can use against you.

If you’ve never seen your own medical record, it can be overwhelming at first. There’s a lot of different information in there. For our purposes, these are the most important parts. Number one, the history, or HPI. This is the section where your provider notes what it is that brought you there in the first place. Number two is what they call the subjective part of the record. By subjective, they mean, what’s your experience? How are you feeling? Are you getting any better? What are your symptoms? The third part of a record will consist of tests and diagnostics. Finally, the fourth part, are patient-provided materials, like questionnaires, pain charts, anything filled out by you, the injured person. Now, there are some other parts of a medical record, but these are the parts that we care most about.

Let’s talk about what you, the patient, can do to make sure that your record is complete and accurate. Number one, make sure that your provider knows exactly what the event was that brought you there in the first place. Doctors often don’t care about how something happened or what the nature of the injury was in the first place. You’d be surprised how often medical records get this wrong. You might’ve been injured in a car crash, and your record says you fell off your bike. Be sure that you explain to your doctor every time you go for a visit that you’re there because of the injury and because of the accident that you were in. Now, don’t blame the doctors for this. Often, it’s not an important fact for purposes of treatment. But if an insurance company sees this kind of inconsistency, it’s going to put their lawyers on high alert, and it’s something they’ll try to use to make sure that you don’t paid fairly.

Number two, maybe make sure you give a complete list of symptoms and the ways in which the injury is affecting your life every time you see your provider. Let them know if the pain is worse or if the pain is different. Include, if you can, a description of the things that you cannot do, the things that you do with some limits, or the things that you must do with pain. Try to encourage your medical provider to make these statements a part of your medical record.

Number three, if you’ve ever had an injury to the same body part or had any treatment at all to the body part that was injured in this car accident, make sure that you are very specific with your doctor about the ways in which the pain is different or worse since you were involved in the accident, because here’s the thing. If you’ve ever had back pain in your life, and because of this accident, you have a serious spinal injury, you can be at your bottom dollar that the insurance company and its defense lawyers are going to argue that you had a pre-existing condition and that they shouldn’t have to pay you for your injury.

Fourth and finally, be very careful when you fill out paperwork at intake, if you’re filling out pain graphs, or giving any kind of written description of your injuries. Be sure to take your time and give complete and honest answers to any questions presented to you on paper. Now, look, I’m as guilty as anyone of feeling irritated and wanting to rush through paperwork when I’m sitting in the waiting room at my doctor’s office and I’m handed a clipboard. I figure, I can always explain my problem to the doctor in person. I don’t really want to spend the time writing it out. But let me tell you this. It’s a mistake. These forms are a goldmine for insurance companies and defense lawyers. I promise you, insurance companies and their defense lawyers are going to carefully look at every single piece of paper in your handwriting to try to find things that you’ve overlooked or look for inconsistencies so that they can avoid paying you fairly for your claim.

Your takeaway from today’s video is this: what’s in your medical record is critically important to your injury claim after a car accident. I hope you found this video helpful. If you did, please like and subscribe to the channel. If there’s anything else you’d like to hear more about, please let us know in the comments section below. Thanks for watching. We’ll see you next time.