No one likes having to go to the doctor. Doctors are busy, and getting in to see them often requires a long stay in the waiting room. With health insurance covering less and less, the out of pocket cost to patients keeps going up. As a result, most of us avoid going to the doctor like the plague. When you have a personal injury claim, however, failing to follow up with your doctor can be a mistake with tremendous consequences for your case. Here’s why you don’t want to fall into that trap.
Doctors Help Us Get Better
With all the healthcare bureaucracy, it’s easy to forget that your doctor’s primary goal is to help you heal. When you fail to follow up for necessary treatment, the doctor has no way to accomplish that goal. Doctors tend to assume if they do not see a patient that the medical problems have resolved. Typically, doctors also prefer a conservative approach, moving to more aggressive treatments only when necessary. If you don’t go to the doctor to report continuing problems, he or she will never know that more aggressive treatment is necessary to heal you. In addition, jurors will be unlikely to believe you were really having problems since the insurance company lawyers will argue that you “didn’t bother” to go to the doctor.
Doctors Prove the Injuries
In a personal injury case, a doctor is an essential witness to proving the nature of your injuries, regardless of their severity. For more serious injuries, such as broken bones or damage to internal organs, your doctor will need to testify to explain the results of x-rays or other diagnostic testing to the jurors. For more common injuries, such as a strained neck or back with no broken bones, the doctor’s testimony can be even more important. There is often no visible evidence of this type of soft tissue injury, which frequently cannot be confirmed by diagnostic testing. Your doctor’s expertise can be critical in convincing jurors that the injuries are real and significant.
Doctors Document the Symptoms
Your court case may not settle or go to trial for years after the initial injury. Although the symptoms are foremost in your mind while you are recovering, they are easy to forget by the time you need to testify about how your injuries affected you. You may remember some of the worst symptoms, while forgetting others. Without evidence of what you experienced, obtaining fair and complete compensation is impossible. Doctors, however, generally keep careful records of your symptoms. We obtain copies of these records as part of our representation, which can help prove all the ways you were affected. Not only that, the records will help refresh your recollection as to symptoms you may have forgotten.
The bottom line is that your doctor is one of your most important allies in recovering from your injuries. Cooperate with the doctor and follow their recommendations to the letter to maximize your chances of complete physical and financial recovery.