Today I had the pleasure of meeting with a wonderful new client. A vehicle had crossed the center median and smashed into her car. She wanted to learn more about the personal injury process and what her options were.
I was explaining the personal injury process to her and stressing the importance of excellent documentation in her medical records. We spent a good part of our conversation talking about documenting the actual injuries from the accident.
FIRST YOU MUST MAKE AN EXHAUSTIVE AND DETAILED LIST OF YOUR INJURIES.
I asked her to start from the top of her head and move her way down her body. She mentioned the fact that she was having severe headaches, she had a nosebleed at the accident scene (along with nasal pain), pain in the right shoulder radiating into the right arm, pain in her upper back, pain in the right side of her mid back, and a bruise to her right knee. She had been to a doctor since the accident. I asked her if she had told any of these things to her doctor. She said she only told the doctor about the neck pain! I explained she would not be getting any points for anything that she failed to mention. You see, insurance adjusters are going to read your medical records with a magnifying glass, and they will only consider what’s in there. If you forget to mention something, that injury does not exist as far as the insurance company is concerned.
I encouraged her to make a list of all her injuries (no matter how minor) on a sheet of paper and the next time she went to the doctor, she was to make sure that those injuries were mentioned in her records. She wasn't lying or fabricating injuries. Clients need to recount ALL their injuries, not just the "main" ones. Wouldn't you want the insurance adjuster to know about ALL the injuries you had and not just some of them? Remember, the insurance adjuster's job is to minimize your case. If you fail to mention all injuries, then you are basically doing their job for them!
SECOND YOU MUST KEEP A LIST OF HOW THE ACCIDENT IS AFFECTING YOUR LIFE
Another exercise we did during our meeting was make a list of all the "effects" of the injury on her life.
To some extent, the value of your injury claim will be based on the following formula:
Severity of Injuries + Effects of Injuries = Value of Claim
She told me she had trouble bathing, trouble putting on her clothes, trouble concentrating at school, She literally was avoiding driving anywhere near the scene of the accident because it brought back so many bad memories. Of course, she had not mentioned any of these things to her doctor. Again, I stressed the importance of mentioning those things and making sure they are part of her medical record. Every time you get medical care after an accident, at every appointment, imagine the insurance adjuster standing in the room with you. I always tell clients to ask themselves the following, “What would I want the insurance adjuster to know about my accident?“ Whatever your answer is, you need to make sure that you articulate those things to your treating providers, physical therapists, etc.
Don't keep your injuries a secret! Don't keep the effects of the injuries a secret. This is not the time to be stoic. This is not the time to "tough it out." This is the time for documentation! Always ask yourself, "What would I want the insurance adjuster to know?" Then TELL YOUR DOCTOR about it so it actually ends up documented in your records.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia, Saugus, Canyon Country, Newhall, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic and surrounding communities.