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A personal injury can be painful, confusing and debilitating. You deserve answers about your diagnosis, prognosis and right to recover through the civil justice system. A major part of recovery – physical, emotional and financial – is working with your doctor. Asking your physician the right questions can illuminate your rights and legal options after a serious injury. Gain insights into your insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit by asking your doctor specific questions after an accident.
First, ask your doctor exactly what part of you is injured. This may seem obvious based on where you feel pain after an accident, but the actual limb or body part injured may surprise you. You may feel pain in your upper arms, for example, with a whiplash injury to your neck, or tingling in your lower limbs with a spinal cord injury. Be sure to find out exactly what is injured, such as which fingers you have fractured or what part of the brain sustained an injury. This can help you give more in-depth and accurate information to an insurance company.
Do not leave the hospital without understanding your exact injury diagnosis. Have your doctor write down the diagnosis verbatim so you do not misremember it during conversations with an insurance claims adjuster. The insurance company will ask for your specific diagnosis, including the part of the body injured, the type of injury and the symptoms you are experiencing.
One of the most important questions to ask your doctor is your prognosis for the future. Your doctor should tell you whether or not you are likely to make a full recovery from your injury. If so, ask how long your recovery will take, as well as how long your doctor anticipates your pain and suffering will last. If your doctor believes you will have long-term or permanent symptoms – including scarring or disfigurement – make a note of this as well.
Obtain a detailed treatment plan from your physician, as well as a basic timeline for your recovery. Ask what treatments the doctor recommends, such as surgery, therapy, psychological therapy, rehabilitation or medications. Stick to your treatment plan exactly. If you deviate from the plan, the insurance company could use this as a reason to deny benefits.
Ask your doctor whether or not you can return to work with your injury. Describe what you do at work to your physician. If your doctor recommends taking time off of work, you could be eligible for lost wage compensation from the party that caused your accident. Request a written opinion from your doctor as proof that you cannot return to work until further notice or until your date of maximum medical improvement.
A physician can obtain a lot of information about an accident based on an analysis of a physical injury. Before you leave, ask your doctor for a written assessment of how he or she believes your injury happened. While you will already have described your accident to your doctor, the doctor can confirm your story based on the type or severity of the injury. This testament from your doctor could provide medical evidence that your injuries were not pre-existing.
Finally, ask your doctor for written statements, copies of x-rays, copies of your medical records, test results, a written treatment plan and other documents you can use as evidence to prove the existence of an injury. During your personal injury case, an insurance company will ask for proof of your losses and injuries. You can use documentation from your doctor to support your insurance claim. It is important not to give an insurance company permission to access your full medical records. Instead, contact an Orange County personal injury lawyer to help you provide only the information an insurance company needs to fairly and accurately assess your injury claim.