How can you help maximize the value of your claim? Tell your doctor about EVERYTHING that is hurting you.
This may sound obvious, that you should accurately and thoroughly report your injuries following a car accident. But as personal injury lawyers that have handled car accident claims for over 20 years, we see a failure to report all too often.
Let’s look at why this is important.
Why Accurately Reporting Symptoms is Important to the Value of Your Claim
It is crucial to document each and every injury because what is written down in the medical records, and what is omitted from the records, will be used by insurance and by your personal injury attorney to either support, or undermine, your claim for injuries.
If a symptom is not reported and not documented, from the insurance adjuster’s perspective, it does not exist.
The adjuster will repeatedly refer to the records shortly following the car accident to assess what injuries were most likely the result of the accident. If a reported symptom emerges months later, the adjuster or defense attorney will point to the absence of any medical documentation immediately following the accident, to suggest or imply that the symptom is not related.
Conversely, as personal injury attorneys, we will often use the medical records created within the weeks following the car crash as evidence that the injuries and documented pain complaints resulted from the car accident. Because medical records are created contemporaneous with the medical visit, and written by an unbiased party with nothing to gain, these records are deemed very credible, more so than memory or self-reporting.
Accuracy is therefore critical. Reporting what is actually happening, not exaggerating the pain but also not minimizing the degree of pain or disability are equally important. Even discuss symptoms that may not necessarily seem related. For example, the following symptoms may all be related to a whiplash injury:
- chest pain,
- jaw dysfunction
- hormonal imbalances
Report the symptoms and let the doctor assess the cause. This will greatly help to maximize your claim value!
Why We Forget to Report Symptoms
We may fail to discuss a symptom at a doctor’s appointment because one part of the body may be hurting so much more than anything else at that moment. The other lesser symptoms go unreported.
For example, you may have a broken leg that is overwhelming and usurping your neck and shoulder pain. But it is important to discuss all three symptoms! Months later the neck and back may be hurting more than the leg, and it is vital to have that initial documentation to support the relationship to the car accident.
Perhaps you are at the chiropractor and notice that your jaw and tooth have been causing pain since the impact. Even though the chiropractor may not be treating your tooth and jaw, documentation in his or her records will further bolster your testimony that the symptoms only presented themselves following the collision.
Sometimes a client will go to the doctor and fail to report an injury because they took a pain pill and the symptom is feeling better at that moment. To maximize your claim value, remember to report all of the injuries and pain symptoms that you have consistently been experiencing, even if you feel better in that particular moment. If you know by the evening the pain will only return and escalate, make certain to address it with your doctor.
For that reason, consider starting at your head and going to your toes to ensure you mention every area of pain, inflammation, numbness, mobility restriction, or other symptomology that you’ve experienced since the car accident.
Finally, it is important to accurately and thoroughly report all symptoms of injury or disability following a car crash to your doctor, including emotional symptoms of depression or anxiety, so that your doctor can assess how best to treat you.
As personal injury lawyers, we view part of our job as helping you heal, to the extent that’s possible. With multiple injuries, it may be necessary to consult and treat with specialists. To ensure you receive the best care, all necessary referrals, and fair compensation for your injuries, medical reporting and documentation is essential.