You have been in a tragic accident–it wasn’t your fault. Another driver ran a red light and hurt you. Totaled out your car. You went to the emergency room at the nearest hospital, and they x-rayed you and probably prescribed some medication for pain and anti-inflammatories. Most likely, you were given instructions to follow up with your own doctor.
You get a phone call from an adjuster for the other company wanting information from you and asking for a recorded statement. You don’t know what to do.
A couple of days later, your pain has increased, and you notice it more now than you did right after the accident. You go see your family doctor, and he gives you some paperwork and exercises to do at home. He may even prescribe physical therapy for you.
Many personal injury victims do not understand the steps necessary to recover from their injuries and protect their insurance claims.
Here are a few practical ideas for helping your recovery and also helping your attorney document your damages:
Follow your doctor’s instructions, and your chances of recovery and increase significantly. If your doctor recommends physical therapy, go and get the treatment. Clients that miss appointments find out that juries feel that the injury must not have been that bad if the victim could be so casual about it. In short, excuses for missing doctors’ appointments are not well received. If the personal injury victim is explaining why they couldn’t get this test done or go to a physical therapy appointment, they have already lost half the battle. Juries don’t like excuses.
It is always a good idea to keep a written summary of your medical treatment and your medical problems. Such a log can also include such things as how much time you missed from work on a day-by-day basis. It doesn’t take long to write a little note indicating that you went to physical therapy and it took an hour to get there. Or that you woke up at night because you couldn’t sleep due to pain. Such a logbook can be really helpful to your personal injury attorney.
If your vehicle was totaled, take pictures of the areas that were damaged that tend to show how adverse the impact was. If you have scrapes, stitches, or abrasions–photographed it so it can be evidence. Being able to show a jury is much preferred to hope the jury will believe you when you tell them about it. If you have a neck brace or a walker, a picture is worth a thousand words!
If you have an ongoing neck injury, ask your family doctor to refer you to an orthopedic surgeon. A specialist will be in a much better position to diagnose the damage and obtain the proper medical treatment to help you. If you are still having problems weeks after your crash, demand more sophisticated testing.
Often people involved in a car accident believe they are fine because the emergency room “released them” after taking x-rays. Most people don’t understand that x-rays only show fractures and broken bones and no other problems with the spinal cord like a herniated disc.
By taking responsibility for your recovery, you are, in effect, also helping your personal injury claim. Many things can hurt a personal injury claim. Significant gaps in treatment or missed medical appointments and testing that was not done that should have been done early on. If you wait a year to being diagnosed with the real problem–you can be assured that the insurance company will be arguing that the wreck had nothing to do with that injury.
If you give a statement that is recorded to the negligent driver’s insurer, without talking with a qualified automobile accident lawyer, you are making a mistake. Adjusters are trained in methods of asking questions that are designed to help them deny or reduce the claim. If you are not prepared for the questions, your reply may hurt your case.
The number of times our Houston car accident law firm has been contacted by those who hired the wrong lawyers can’t be counted. While you can fire a lawyer at any time, there can be adverse consequences if a contingency fee lawyer is fired “without cause.” It is much better to spend some time looking at the background, qualifications, and results of the best car accident lawyers in the area before “signing up” with one that you should not have hired.
Who you choose may not much matter in a small whiplash-type case? But in severe personal injury damage cases, the lawyer you pick can have a significant impact on your results. Choose wisely!
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