Tips to Help Ensure the Success of Your Case

Author: R. Clayton Allen, Mechanicsville, Va Personal Injury Attorney

There's no doubt about it - you play an important part in your case. Here are 9 things you can do to help insure a successful recovery in your personal injury case.

1. Follow your doctor's and other health care providers' advice. When your attorney submits your case documents to the insurance company to discuss settlement, the insurance company will analyze your medical records closely. Your dedication and commitment to your own recovery - including physical therapy programs - are extremely important. Failure to follow your doctor's advice, missed appointments, or gaps in treatment will reduce the value of your claim.

2. Keep detailed records if you miss time from work because of your injuries and keep a hard copy of "excuse from work" notes from your doctor. Your attorney will need the dates that you missed work as well as the name and contact information for your employer so he or she can verify wage or payroll information.

To recover any lost wages due to your injury, usually your doctor will need to indicate in writing that you were off of work on his medical advice due to your accident-related injuries, and your employer will need to confirm in writing that you missed a specific period of time from work.

3. If you are out of work due to your personal injury, talk to your doctor specifically about your work status during each visit. This way the doctor can either provide a work excuse note keeping you out of work or a return to work note if he believes you can return to work. Always send your attorney copies of these work excuse/return notes.

4. Be honest and direct with your doctors and medical professionals. Tell your doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner or therapist exactly what symptoms you are experiencing, where it hurts, what the pain feels like, how long it lasts and how it affects your daily life. Explain what activities or movements make it hurt worse, and what helps relieve the pain. Do not overstate or magnify your symptoms, but don't minimize or ignore them either. Doctors are busy professionals; think about what you are going to say to the doctor before you meet with the doctor. Talk about what is most important first, and then describe less painful or important injuries. Just be honest and direct, but also complete and accurate.

5. Keep us up to date. Let your attorney know of any address or telephone number changes as well as the status of your treatment and recovery. Two-way communication is crucial to the successful outcome of your case. Call each time after you see the doctor, and advise your attorney what the doctor said, what treatment or recommendations the doctor gave you as well as any new or renewed prescriptions, and when the next followup appointment is. To properly represent you, your lawyer also needs to know if:

  • your medical condition improves or worsens,
  • you receive medical treatment not related to your case,
  • you have another accident, or
  • you're thinking about filing for bankruptcy.

6. Keep detailed records of all of your health care visits and conversations with your health insurance representatives - including:

  •  the doctor(s) and other healthcare providers you see,
  • the times and dates of your visit,
  • doctor and other healthcare provider contact information,
  • what he or she says,
  • copies of your Explanation of Benefits (EOBs) from your health insurer, and
  • specifics about your claim. If you need help gathering this information, please ask a family member or friend to give you a hand. With the new privacy laws, it is much easier for your attorney and his or her staff to get this information from you than from your health care providers.

7. Don't talk about your case to others unless you check with us first. Don't give any statements, written or oral, to anyone other than the police officers investigating your accident. Don't discuss fault or liability with anyone, especially insurance representatives. If you know you haven't discussed your case with anyone except your attorney, then you don't have to worry about anyone coming forward and contradicting what you may say in deposition or at trial.

Don't make any comments in public about anything or anyone that you believe has caused your personal injury or about your injuries. Please tell anyone (including the media) who wants to talk with you about your case that you are represented by your lawyer, and they should contact your lawyer directly.

8. Keep detailed records of out-of-pocket expenses incurred due to your injuries. This includes prescription and medical co-pay receipts.

9. Don't change or cancel appointments with doctors or health care providers without first checking with your lawyer. Consistent medical care is very important. You should avoid changing doctors during your treatment if possible. Also, let your attorney know if your doctor refers you to another doctor including a specialist. Always call your attorney before you see a new doctor or a new health care provider. If you cannot keep a medical appointment, always call to cancel the appointment before its scheduled date and explain why you are canceling it (for example, sickness or vacation). Reschedule promptly.

If you see a nurse practitioner in your doctor's office, make sure you see the medical doctor from time to time as well. Only a medical doctor can testify and share his or her medical opinions at trial. A nurse practitioner can't. Therefore, it is extremely important that your doctor examine you periodically.

About The Author: Clayton Allen is a Mechanicsville, VA personal injury attorney with over 20 years of experience defending the rights of those who have been injured due to no fault of their own. Clayton is a partner at Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen.

About The Author: Clayton Allen is a Mechanicsville, VA personal injury attorney with over 20 years of experience defending the rights of those who have been injured due to no fault of their own. Clayton is a partner at Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen.

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