So, you were injured in an accident and decided to bring a personal injury claim against the negligent party. You have been suffering since your accident and you want to be compensated for your pain and discomfort. Is that enough to win your lawsuit? No, that is not enough.
I tell my clients, “it is not what you know, it is what you can prove.” You know that you are hurting, but can you prove it? Here are the top five things you need to meet your burden of proof:
1. Medical Treatment - The truth of the matter is that you may have pain after an accident, but if you don’t get medical treatment, then it is 1) hard to prove you were hurt and 2) easy for the defendant to paint argue you were not hurt. Jurors don’t like to hear that you “are not a complainer” to justify why you didn’t get medical treatment, and “excuses” of any kind will likely doom your case. You are person, not a superhero. Reasonable people get medical treatment when they are hurt. If you don’t need treatment, great. That is the best type of accident to be in. If you are hurt, get treatment and follow-up with your doctors as needed. End of story.
2. Be Consistent With Your Symptom Reporting. When filling out your medical paper work or speaking with your doctor/nurse, communicate your symptoms, including your symptoms you are having at that moment as well as the symptoms since the accident. If a body part is painful or numb or feels different since the accident, make sure to state that in the medical paperwork and when you speak with your doctors. This information should be consistent from one doctor to the next, and, even if you see a doctor for a medical condition unrelated to your injury, it helps if you tell them about your injury.
Descriptive With Your Symptoms. When communicating
your symptoms to your medical provider, specifically identify the type of pain
you are experiencing. Different types of symptoms indicate different types of
injuries. Don’t write that you have “pain.” Describe the pain. There is a
difference between dull, achy pain and sharp pain with pins
and needles, numbness and tingling, etc….
How you describe your symptoms can greatly assist
the doctor in making a diagnosis. The way you describe your symptoms should be consistent with all of
your medical providers.
Accurate About Your Medical History. If you have had
medical treatment to your low back before an accident and then suffered a new
back injury from an accident, it is extremely important that you tell all of
your doctors about your prior low back symptoms and treatment.
The law allows you to bring a claim if an accident worsened (aggravated) a pre-existing medical condition, but juries look harshly upon people who are not truthful. You can still have a legal claim even if you have had prior treatment for the same body part, but a jury will turn you away if you don’t disclose that prior/relevant medical treatment. There is no-one who knows your medical history better than you do. You lived it. As a result, a jury will not believe that you “forgot” your prior injury/condition if you failed to disclose it to the doctors treating you after an accident.
5. Communicate With Your Attorney. Whenever you plan on seeing a new medical doctor or getting new tests or radiological studies, let your attorney know. Your attorney is there to help guide you through the process, but they cannot do that if you do not keep them informed. Additionally, if you decide to apply for disability benefits or for government assistance, it is critical that your attorney be part of that process. In your effort to seek assistance, you may be jeopardizing your claim. Why not keep your attorney in the loop? It does not cost you anymore, and the advice and assistance you receive is exactly why you have an attorney in the first place.
Will these rules guaranty you a recovery in your personal injury case? Of course not. On the other hand, they will provide you and your attorney the information and documentation needed to give you the best chance of presenting a successful claim.