After practicing personal injury law for over 20 years, you start to see patterns with respect to how people handle, or should I say mishandle, their medical care after an auto accident. Here are 10 mistakes people make when dealing with medical care after a car accident:
1) They don't get medical attention immediately after a car accident - If you are hurt, don't wait around. Go get examined by a doctor as soon as possible. Some people say, "Oh, I was waiting for the insurance company to tell me what to do." There is no such thing. Insurance companies aren't interested in your medical care. Frankly, they don't want you seeking medical care. They want to keep their money to themselves. It is up to you to get medical care. The insurance company is not going to arrange for it. Insurance adjusters and juries often believe that if you don't get medical care right away, then you must not be hurt that bad.
2) They hide their previous health conditions from doctors (and their lawyer) - If doctors ask you about your past medical history, you have to be honest with them. Hiding your medical history doesn't help anyone. First, doctors want to help you, and knowing your medical history may assist them in doing that. Also, failure to disclose your complete medical history will only come back to haunt you later on when the insurance company is reviewing your past medical history. I can't tell you how many clients tell me, "Oh, I never had back pain before!" Then, we review their past medical records and lo and behold, they complained of chronic back pain 6 months prior to the accident! In short, be complete and honest with your doctors (and your lawyer).
3) Discussing legal issues or lawsuits with their medical provider - The doctor's job is to treat your injuries, not to give you legal advice. Also, some doctors are reluctant to treat you if they learn you might be entertaining legal action in the future. Of course, you can tell them about the car accident and your resultant injuries, but you shouldn't get into deep legal discussions and strategy sessions with your doctor.
4) Their injuries are not properly documented - Juries and insurance companies aren't going to believe you are injured simply because you say you are injured. If something isn't in your medical records, it never happened as far as most insurance companies are concerned. Make sure your medical providers properly document EVERY injury and challenge you have from the accident. I tell clients to imagine the insurance adjuster sitting on their shoulder, writing down everything they say. The insurance adjuster will only consider what's in the records.
5) They skip medical appointments and physical therapy appointments - Again, if you skip appointments, insurance companies and juries will assume you're not injured - otherwise, you wouldn't miss your appointments. You may have a perfectly wonderful excuse, but now you have to explain things. Time spent explaining missed appointments isn't great for your case.
6) Forgetting to inform the doctor about how the injuries are affecting your work - You want to make sure your medical records reflect how, if at all, your injuries are affecting your work. Recently, I had a client who wanted a much bigger settlement than what I thought was reasonable. He told me about how much pain he had at work and all the difficulties he was having at work due to his injuries. Here's the problem - none of his medical records said anything about those difficulties. They were silent on the issue. It's hard to prove something was "significant" if it's not in any of the records.
7) Not taking the medications prescribed - I know that some medications can make you feel groggy or make your stomach upset. However, if you are having side effects, tell the doctor and perhaps he/she can prescribe something different. Simply not taking your medication as prescribed can be used against you - some will argue that you weren't getting better because you didn't follow the doctor's advice. Of course, do what's best for you, as there are always exceptions.
8) You stop treatment too soon - Most insurance adjusters and juries believe that if you stop medical treatment, you must be completely healed. We all know there are hundreds of reasons why you might stop treating, but your reasoning won't necessarily be adopted by the insurance adjuster. Just realize that if you stop treatment too soon, you might be hurting your case - especially if you have residual injuries.
9) Ignoring possible psychological injuries - Most injuries are physical. However, sometimes your injuries can be psychological. If you are having a particularly difficult time coping after a severe car accident, you might be experiencing tremendous anxiety or worse. Ask your doctor if seeing a therapist would be a good idea - at least for an evaluation or assessment.
10) Not keeping a journal - You should take the time to document how your injuries are affecting you. That way, when you visit the doctor's office, you will be able to tell the doctor how you are doing and what progress (or lack thereof) you are making. Those notes can also help your attorney when presenting your case to the insurance company.
Hello, everyone. This is Robert Mansour. I wanted to make a brief video today about how to pay for your medical care when you're involved in an automobile accident. This is a very important issue and you cannot enter into it lightly.
The firs thing that I do when I contact a client or when they talk to me is I say, "Okay. If I take this case, we have to decide how are we going to pay for your medical care." There are several options. If you have health insurance, that might be one way to do it. Have your health insurance pay for the medical care. Keep in mind that in most cases, your healthcare insurance company will have a right to be reimbursed if you recover money from the responsible party.
If your health insurance company pays out $2,000 for your care and you recover $5,000 from the responsible party, you may have to repay your health insurance company if that is the case. That hold true for Medicare and Medi-Cal and most of the major health insurance companies out there.
If you have medical payments coverage under your automobile policy, you might also be able to use that. Medical payments coverage is like having health insurance attached to your auto insurance policy. Usual policy amounts are $2,000, $5,000. I have seen some that are $25,000. It all depends on what you have if you have it available. The nice thing is that you can use that money to pay for your healthcare in many cases.
Now, here's the thing. If your auto insurance company pays based on that provision, they have a right to reimbursement as well, and you have to make sure you take care of them at the end of your case.
Another thing you can do is proceed on a lien basis, lien. What does that mean? That means that if you don't have health insurance and you don't have medical payments coverage, you might be able to get care from certain doctors who specialize in personal injury matters, or they don't specialize but they know how to do a personal injury case, they know how to handle one, and they accept them.
Here's the thing. A lien means you're going to sign a form that promises to pay the doctor regardless of the outcome of your matter. You can't just tell the doctor, "Well, I didn't win and I lost the case," or "I decided not to pursue and so I don't want to pay you anymore." The doctor is not going to be very happy with that, nor is the physical therapist or the chiropractor or anybody that you hire on a lien basis.
When you proceed on a lien, the doctor is basically fronting his or her services to you with the expectation that you're going to pay them out of the recovery of your case. What you may not realize is that you in most cases, owe the doctor regardless of the outcome of your case.
Contrast that with your health insurance company and your medical payments coverage on your auto policy. In those cases, yes, you have to pay them back, but only if you recover money from the other party. If you lose or you don't recover any money from the other party, you don't have to pay them back versus going on a lien which is essentially a tab at the doctor's office, and having everything done that way in which case, you have to pay those healthcare providers regardless of the outcome of your matter.
So you have to be very careful with how you proceed and how you choose to have those things paid for. Every case is different. In some cases, it makes sense to go one path, in some cases, it might make sense to go a different path. That's one of the issues that I talk about with my clients. Which is the least financially dangerous path for them to go down?
I hope you found this video helpful. I appreciate it very much that you took the time to watch it. Feel free to visit my website, valencialawyer.com for lots more educational information about personal injury cases. Thank you.
After a car accident, it would be a good idea to sit down and make an exhaustive list of all the injuries you had after the accident. Be very specific. For example, if you tell the doctor that you had "shoulder pain radiating into your neck," the doctor might simply indicate that you had "shoulder pain." However, you actually have two injuries - one to your shoulder and one to your neck. Therefore, the doctors records and reports may simply reflect one area of your body when in fact two areas were affected.
You have to segment your injuries into sub-parts. For example if you say "I have back pain," that may be simply be considered as one area of injury. However, your back can be broken up into three regions, the mid back, the low back, and the upper back. Also, you might have pain in your shoulder blades, or your waist area or your tailbone. Again you have to be very specific because each of these things can be considered a separate injury.
If you don't segment your injuries into sub-parts, you are allowing the adjuster to devalue your claim because the specific injuries are not listed. For example, if you say "my arm hurts," this may be problematic because the "arm" can involve pain in the fingers, the wrist, the hand, forearm, the bicep, the tricep, the shoulder, or the elbow. You see, the arm can be broken up into so many different regions that can be considered separate injuries. If the doctor only writes down "patient's arm hurts," then you have shortchanged your case by failing to mention all the subcategories of your arm that were also injured.
Most doctors are not this specific, so you might have to be. The doctors need to be very exhaustive in their documentation by segmenting your body into as many parts as possible and your injuries into as many sub-parts as possible. Otherwise, the insurance adjuster will be inputting incomplete information into their analysis software and therefore undervaluing your claim.
That is why it is a good idea to make a very detailed list of all the injuries you have from the accident. Do not only mention the injuries that currently bother you, but mention every single thing that bothered you from the very first day. Otherwise you might miss something. Also make a very detailed list of how the accident affected your daily life. Do not only mention how your daily life is currently affected, but also talk about how your daily life was affected shortly after the accident.
Be very specific about any limitations you might have had. You can include simple things like vacuuming, doing chores, gardening, lifting, bending, playing with the kids, and anything else that was affected, including your work. These effects on daily life may also affect the value of your personal injury case. Every time you go to the doctor, they will ask you how things are going. You want to make sure you mention to the doctor any limitations you're having and make sure they are noted in the records and in the doctor's reports. If they are not mentioning your records, it's almost like it never happened.
If you need help with your Santa Clarita personal injury case, please call my office for a free consultation at (661) 414-7100.
Immediately after a serious car accident, the injured person might receive some treatment. For example, they may get treatment at the scene of the accident or they might be taken to a hospital for treatment. They're treated by certain doctors at the emergency room, anesthesiologists, radiologists, etc. In some cases, the injured party is sent to an imaging center for an MRI or CT scan. All the activity that follows an accident is important and you should tell your attorney about it. In most cases, you want to make every effort to obtain your medical records AND billing from all the facilities and health care providers as soon as possible.
After that the client might find that they require further treatment. At this point, they would discuss their options with a lawyer to find out how they might want to proceed. Should they proceed on a lien? Should they go through their primary doctors? Should they go through their HMO, etc? A lien is where the doctors provide treatment to the client and defer payment - they will get paid at the end of the case when there is a recovery. The client, in most cases, is still on the hook for the balance, but at least they don't have to pay the doctor as they go along. And those options will be discussed with the lawyer.
The most important thing to do is to make sure you get the proper medical treatment after a serious car accident. Make sure you are proactive. Also, keep track of all your medical providers from Day One and make sure you get all your records and billing from each provider.
If you need help with your Santa Clarita car accident case, call (661) 414-7100 for a free evaluation of your personal injury case.
Sometimes clients call my office and they say, “Rob, I was involved in a personal injury accident. I really don’t know what to do.” A car accident occurred, T-bone, rear-end, whatever the case may be, and they really don’t know what to do so, and so I want to spend a few minutes here as I talk to you from my office giving you some ideas about what to do if you were injured in an automobile accident, and you have a claim that you’d like to bring. So there are a few things to keep in mind.
First things first, make sure that you take photographs of every vehicle that was involved in the accident. If you have the energy at the scene of the accident, and you have a camera or perhaps a cell phone that has a camera, a camera in it, take pictures but not only of your vehicle. I have a lot of clients they bring me lots of pictures of their vehicle only, and that’s fine, and that’s very helpful, but if you can, take pictures of all the other vehicles that were involved in the accident as well. The other thing that I would add is take pictures from several different angles because a lot of times because a picture is a static image, and it’s a two-dimensional image, sometimes it’s very difficult to assess the damage just by looking at it in, from one angle. If you’re taking a look at a vehicle with your own eyes you have three-dimensional ability, and you can, you can kind of assess the damage a little bit better.
So if you’re taking a photograph, make sure to take photographs from several different angles so that you’d better tell the story. If you don’t have photographs, it’s not terribly helpful when you’re trying to convince a jury or an adjuster or anybody else of the severity of the impact. So pictures really do tell a thousand words so to the extent that you can take photographs. If your vehicle has already been towed to a yard, see if you can get to that yard or have a friend or a family member go to that yard and take some pictures of your vehicle and the more the merrier. There really is no limit as to far, as far as how many pictures are good. Also, again, pictures of the other vehicle are very, very helpful.
Also, you want to make sure that you provide your lawyer with all of the auto insurance information. We need, as your attorneys, we need to know your policy number, what insurance company you had, whether your insurance was in force at the time of the accident and also what kind of coverage you had in your insurance policy, and that information is very important because it provides us with a contact person.
Also, it’s very helpful to find out if you had something called medical payments coverage. Sometimes your own insurance company will pay for your medical bills if you need to turn to them to do that. Of course you can use your own health insurance as well, and sometimes you can go to a doctor and see them on what’s called a “lien” basis, and a lien basis means that the doctor will provide you with physical therapy and care, etc. if it’s appropriate, and that doctor will expect to be paid later on when you settle with the responsible party. But anyhow, get all of your insurance information that when your attorney contacts your insurance company, they have all the information they need. Also, very important, make sure you have the insurance information for all the other parties involved to the extent that you can. Sometimes you’re unable to get that at the scene of the accident, and I understand that.
Many times that will be on the police report. Speaking of which, very important, if there is a police report, please provide it to your lawyer. It’s going to have a lot of important information in there, sometimes insurance information, also the officer’s opinion about the responsible party, sometimes there is information in there about witnesses, the severity of the impact, and how the accident occurred. So the police officer’s report, which by the way, is not the definitive answer, if you will, as to who is at fault, but it’s helpful, and it’s one of the pieces of the puzzle that will be very helpful to your lawyer. Sometimes you won’t have the police report. Instead you will have a police report card that the officers give you at the scene and it will have the police report number on it. Give that to your lawyer so they can secure the police report from the responsible agency. Also sometimes officers take photographs at the scene of the accident and your attorney can obtain those as well.
Another thing that you can think about is property damage estimates. If your car has been damaged, make sure you get a property damage estimate for your vehicle, maybe even two. Take it to a shop, a dealership, wherever you want to take it and make sure you get a detailed property damage estimate because sometimes people say, “Well it was a total loss.” Well, a total loss is fine that helps me a little bit, but a total loss doesn’t really mean much except that the value of the car was less than what it cost to fix the car. So if you have a $1,000.00 vehicle, and you have $1,500.00 worth of damage to that vehicle, which isn’t very difficult to do by the way, you might have a total loss. But that doesn’t really tell the attorney anything about what exactly was damaged in the automobile accident.
Your property damage estimate is very helpful because it’ll show whether there was a any frame damage, any damage to the doorframe, any damage to the axle of the vehicle, wheel alignment issues, etc., bumper support structures. Those kinds of things, those kinds of bits of information in a property damage estimate can be very helpful to the attorney when they’re advocating for you. So even if you’ve been told, “Oh, it’s a total loss,” see if you can get a property damage estimate nevertheless. Sometimes your own insurance company will provide with a detailed analysis of what was damaged in the accident, and of course, it’s unlikely, but if you have a property damage estimate from the other party, provide it to your lawyer as well.
Also, you should get medical care right away. Don’t wait around hoping that you’re going to feel better. Sometimes people try to tough it out, and all they’re doing is hurting their own case because the longer you wait from the date of the accident to when you first seek medical treatment, the longer you wait the more the responsible party, the insurance company for the responsible party, is going to doubt whether you had any injuries at all. So make a list of all the doctors that you go to and make sure that you seek medical care right away even if you just make sure you’re all right because if you wait too long, they will doubt whether or not you were injured. And also, every time you go to the doctor after an automobile accident, make sure you mention to the doctor why you’re there. I have many clients they go to the doctor and they say, “Oh, my back hurts or my neck hurts,” or something like this, and the doctor provides care, but they never mention to the doctor that it was because of an automobile accident, and as a result, the absence of that information, some insurance adjusters will take a look at that and say the absence means that it wasn’t related to the car accident. You were there for some other reason. So you want to make sure you always provide your healthcare providers with the information that is relevant to the matter so that it ends up in your medical file.
Also, when you go to the doctor, make sure that you mention everything that bothers you. Start from the head and make your way down even if you’re not terribly sure, make mention of it to the doctor because sometimes some people try to tough it out and they don’t mention their back because, “Oh, it, I don’t want to trouble the doctor or, or I don’t want to trouble the physical therapist,” but the problem is that all they’ve done is hurt their own case because once again, the absence of information in medical records, as far as some insurance adjusters are concerned, the absence of information means it never happened. So make sure that you always are very mindful of what you are telling your healthcare professionals, and plus the healthcare professional wants all the information so they can provide you with the best care.
Finally, if there were any witnesses to the accident, make sure that provide that information to your attorney. Sometimes the witness information is in the police report, but sometimes it’s not. Any passengers in your vehicle might also be witnesses to the accident. So once again, it’s very important to provide your lawyer with more information than less. Some people go to the lawyer and they sign up with the attorney and they think everything’s going to happy magically. Not quite. We still need assemble information because remember, insurance companies don’t pay out of the goodness of their heart. I mean of course there are always very nice adjusters and in many cases, they’re trying to do the best job they can, but they don’t write you a check just for fun. They need to have evidence. They need to have information, and so you need to provide that information to your lawyer so your lawyer can advocate for you.
Many prospective clients who call my office have no idea what to provide to their lawyer when involved in a car accident. I try to explain to clients that I need all the “pieces of the puzzle” because I’m not a psychic. I’m not going to magically get copies of your hospital bill, and I’m not going to magically have photos of the damage to your vehicle or your injuries, etc. I need the client’s help in obtaining these materials.
Here is a list of what I encourage my clients to bring to the first meeting.
Dear Client: Here is a list of everything I need to help you with your case:
ALL Photographs depicting damage to your vehicle. If you don’t have any photos, please try your best to take some. Photos should capture the damage from several angles. Digital pictures are best and can be delivered to us by email and/or disc. If your insurance company took photos, please ask them to get you those pictures as well. If you are already our client, you can have your insurance company send the photos directly to our office. It’s your file, so you are entitled to the photos.
ALL photographs depicting damage to any other vehicles involved in the accident.
Your auto insurance information (name, address, policy numbers and claim numbers if available). If you have the “Declarations Page” showing evidence of insurance covering the date of the accident, that is best. This page outlines the important information including policy number, amount of coverage, etc. If you don’t have it, please call your insurance company and ask them to fax it to us.
Insurance information of all other parties. Including insurance name, policy numbers if known, claim number if known, adjuster, address, etc.
Property damage estimates (if available). Even if your car was a “total loss,” it is often helpful to obtain a good property damage estimate that outlines all the parts of your car that were damaged. Frame damage and other significant entries on your property damage estimate can affect your case.
Any and ALL doctors and facilities with whom you have treated. Please provide all contact information (names, phone numbers, addresses, etc). Make sure that whenever you initially go to a doctor for treatment related to this accident, you MUST tell the doctor’s office you are there because of the accident. If you don’t mention the accident, some insurance adjusters will doubt whether the treatment was accident-related.
Please let us know if you have ever been a Medicare recipient. Also, please provide us with your health insurance information.
Police report (if available). If you have the police report number, we can order the police report for you. If you already have the police report, please provide a copy. If there was no police report prepared, please let us know that as well.
Were there any witnesses? If yes, we will need their contact information. Once you provide your lawyer with this information, he/she will be better able to represent you. They need all the pieces of the puzzle if they are going to paint a picture for an insurance adjuster.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,