As a personal injury trial lawyer, I am often asked by my clients when I first meet with them what they can do to help get the best result in their case. The answer is simple. I tell them to “be a good patient.”
What does that mean?Three things:
First, keep your appointments with your doctors, therapists, or other health care providers.
Secondly, follow the doctors’ advice.
Third, when asked by the health care provider how you are doing, give a thorough and accurate response.
Being a good patient helps to get the best result because the treating doctor’s comments and opinions are critically important to the outcome. If a client has failed to keep their appointments with their treating physician or to follow their doctor’s advice, then the doctor’s opinions that are important to the case may be less favorable than otherwise. After all, doctors are human too; if the patient appears trifling about their medical care and injuries, the doctor is not likely to take them as seriously either. Furthermore, if the patient fails to give an accurate description of their symptoms and limitations when asked by the doctor how they have been doing, then the doctor will be unaware of the extent of the problems the patient is experiencing. In this instance, the doctor’s testimony may not be as supportive of all of the difficulties the client/patient has experienced from their injuries.
Being a good patient also helps to get a better result for those cases which settle without trial. When evaluating a case for settlement, the insurance company adjuster carefully scrutinizes the medical records and chart of each injured person to ascertain what the doctor is likely to say if the case goes to trial. If a patient’s medical chart shows multiple missed appointments, a failure to comply with the doctor’s advice, or understates the problems the patient is experiencing from their injuries, then the adjuster will expect the doctor’s testimony won’t be as supportive and the result at trial will be less favorable, and the adjuster is likely to offer less to settle.
Thus, the simple advice to my clients to “be a good patient” increases the chances of receiving a better result in their case. It goes without saying that being a good patient also enables the client to get the best available medical care and potentially recover from their injuries as quickly as possible.
Consequently, an injured person who is a good patient will almost certainly get a better settlement or verdict in their case than one who is not — and usually heal more quickly, too!
About the Author: Charles L. Allen is among the third generation of Allen family attorneys to have worked with the personal injury law firm Allen, Allen, Allen & Allen. Since joining the firm in 1983, Charles has had extensive experience handling various types of personal injury cases.