What does the process of a “typical” injury action through litigation look like for clients? This three part series will help describe what to expect. What follows is the first step to describing how personal injury action develops from the accident scene onwards until the end of the settlement of the file. This will help inform you what to expect in the settlement process. In this post, the Treatment Phase.
If you’re in an accident, it is crucial to seek out medical assistance as quickly as possible. Get the best possible care and ensure you start documenting the symptoms you are suffering immediately.
Document Symptoms and Treatments
Unfortunately, no matter who you see for medical care, they may not record all of your symptoms. I have had doctors say to me they don’t have time to transcribe everything you say. They will write down what they believe are the most important things. Keep in mind, not all of your symptoms appear in the first day or two. It may take longer for important symptoms to appear. I have also heard many other treatment providers (such as physiotherapists, massage therapists, and chiropractors) similarly tell me that their job is not to write down everything that they hear. They explain that their job is to listen and try to present the best course of action while your injuries are at their most ‘acute’.
Here’s an example of what you may encounter as you begin the recovery process. When you go and see your doctor you may, for example, have five symptoms to describe (in order of importance). The doctor will examine you and then leave the room. They may do multiple examinations with others patients before filling in your chart. When it comes time to record your visit, instead of items one, two, three, four, and five, they may only remember the last three items, (i.e. the three least important symptoms). In those circumstances the first two most important symptoms may not even make it into the doctor’s chart. This is why it is so important to be as descriptive as possible with all of your treatment providers – the more people that are writing down your symptoms, the greater the likelihood that the overall medical record will accurately reflect all of your injuries and symptoms.
Soft Tissue Symptoms and Treatment
If you have suffered soft tissue injuries, the normal course of treatment is for you to be prescribed anti-inflammatories and pain medications with physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage, and possibly acupuncture. It is important to get treatment when you are prescribed treatment. If not, you open yourself to the argument by the insurance company that you have failed to “mitigate” your injuries. The insurance company will argue that you would’ve been better sooner had you treated as advised. You can avoid giving them that argument by ensuring you treat as advised by your medical doctor.
If you don’t have a family physician and you normally go to a walk-in clinic for medical health issues, it is important to try and obtain a family physician who will see you for your accident related symptoms. Seeing a different doctor each time at a walk-in clinic is a recipe for disaster. If you see a different doctor each time, they will be relying on the notes of the last time that you were there and obviously that is subject to the quality of the notes done by previous doctors at that clinic.
In the next post, talking to the insurance companies about your injuries.