When you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, there are several things you need to know about your medical treatment in the event your case eventually gets into litigation.
First, you need to make sure you relate your injuries to the accident when you go to the hospital or doctor. Once the case gets into litigation, the attorneys order all of the medical records. Jurors tend to believe what is written in the record as opposed to what you tell them so make sure the record is clear.
Second, in that same regard, make sure you and your doctor are on the same page. I cannot tell you how many times a client’s doctor has testified in deposition that he either didn’t know the client was in the accident or that the client did not attribute any of her symptoms to an accident. When you visit your doctor, the doctor listens and takes notes, either handwritten or via dictation. Ask him what he writes down or listen to what he dictates and make sure it’s accurate. When your attorney takes his deposition a year or so later, he will go on what he wrote down or dictated, and he won’t remember what you told him.
Third, make sure your doctor is not biased against these types of cases. Your doctor is the key to your case. If she testifies that your injuries were “possibly” caused by the accident, you’re in trouble. “Possibly” doesn’t cut it. The doctor MUST testify that the accident caused your injuries to a reasonable degree of medical probability (defense attorneys argue “to a reasonable degree of medical certainty” which is impossible – no one knows for certain unless the injury is clear). For some reason, many doctors just do not like these cases, and they don’t seem to want to get involved and help their patient. Take care of this on the front end when you first meet with the doctor so her testimony doesn’t bite you down the line.
Fourth, make your doctor spend time with you and explain his diagnosis and treatment plan. Many doctors come in and out of the examination room as if it were a drive thru window at a fast food restaurant. Ask questions so the doctor can’t just up and leave. Make sure he understands what your problems are and how you were not having these problems before the accident.
Fifth, keep a log of your pain and the date, time and dosage of medications you take. When you take medication, it is pretty clear you are having pain, and such a log along with the dates and amounts of medication purchases can be clear evidence to a defense attorney and jury of the actually pain you were having.
These are just some helpful tips. Your doctor needs to believe in you and be your friend. Make sure that’s the case because their testimony can kill the case if it’s not in line.