To maximize recovery in a personal injury case, it is important for plaintiff’s attorneys to determine the nature, extent, permanency and future medical problems and expenses from the medical records.
The Law Offices of Edward Misleh, APC is a Sacramento law firm, located in Sacramento, California that practices personal injury law. We represent clients in Sacramento, California and clients in Northern California with services they need and deserve when addressing injuries suffered from an auto accident or slip and fall due to another party’s negligence. Call now our Lawyer Hotline. We offer a free consultation and no upfront fees. We get paid only when we settle your case. Call now 916-443-1267 for your free consultation.
Your medical information will have to be requested at some point when you make a personal injury claim for damages. Your medical information and records are the foundation of your claim and will be used by your attorney and the insurance carrier challenging your claim. Your medical records are the most important evidence you can get to back up your demand for settlement.
Insurance companies rely heavily on your medical information (records and other documentation) before deciding what amount to offer for settlement. The insurance adjuster will first scrutinize the nature and extent of your medical treatment. Any amount of recovery will be affected by the documents produced which identify your injuries and treatment provided.
Medical Information Analysis
Your medical records will need to be summarized in a chronological format to address the following issues:
- To ensure the completeness of the records,
- Determine if the plaintiff has been consistent with his complaints and symptoms,
- Determine if the plaintiff has complied with the treatment regimen,
- Determine if the plaintiff returned to see the physician when instructed, and,
- Identify the plaintiff’s description of the pain and limitations on activity.
It is much more believable to a jury when a physician documents your complaints of pain and limitations on activity rather than relying on your testimony. An analysis of the medical records can determine the types of medications you were receiving and if you received the same medications from more than one doctor showing a pattern of abuse. Although each plaintiff experiences pain differently, even with the same symptoms, the type of medication can be an indication of the severity of the plaintiff’s level of pain.
Documentation of Damages
The defense only has two arguments to minimize damages; pre-existing conditions or that the condition was not caused by the accident. Although pre-existing conditions are still compensable, it is important for your attorney to distinguish your condition before and after the accident. It is helpful to use a table to show how the location, timing, intensity, duration and medications were different prior to the accident from after the accident. It is important to show that you now experience symptoms for a longer duration of the day than prior to the accident and that your symptoms are more severe than prior to the accident. This can also be accomplished by discussing limitations on activity, comparing what you were able to do before the accident, even with this pre-existing condition, with what your limitations are after the accident. Physicians are trained to write their notes in terms of medical diagnoses rather than limitations on activities. If a patient comes in and the physician says how are you doing and he says I still have back pain, that is what will go in the record. However, if the patient says I am unable to bend or lift like I could before the accident because of the back pain, that statement is more likely to get into the record, especially if a nurse takes the history before the patient is seen by the physician.
The defense will also argue that the injury was not caused by the accident. It is important for your attorney to show the medical relationship of the injury to the accident that resulted in the injury. If one cannot show a medical relationship of the injury to the accident, your attorney can resort to the temporal relationship of the accident to the injury.
Getting the Jury to Understand
It is important for your attorney to bring to life what you went through when receiving medical treatment. It is helpful to describe in detail each medical procedure which you experienced. Jurors do not know that a myelogram requires a needle to be stuck inside the spine to insert the dye. They also do not understand that massage therapy in physical therapy terms is not a pleasurable spa massage. It is a therapeutic deep tissue massage which directly pushes on the parts that hurt to try to loosen them up and this can be extremely painful.
Another way medicine can be used to maximize damages is by preparing a calendar of all the medical care which you received and the time it took. Physical therapy three times a week as well as doctors visits and home exercise programs can take a huge chunk of time from a person’s life. This can be visualized in a calendar format. Also, a table can be made to compare your activities before and after the accident, showing you can no longer do things you once enjoyed doing.
The Expert Witnesses
Many attorneys obtain physician narratives in which the physician simply regurgitates the medical records in narrative form for which the physician can charge a lot of money. However, physicians do not understand the legal system and do not know what your attorney needs to show to prove their case. Consequently, it is important for your attorney to help the physician understand what is needed and to obtain statements from the physician that address the nature and extent of the injuries, the permanency of the injuries and any future medical problems and expenses which the plaintiff may face as a result of the injuries. This can be done in affidavit format which clearly and succinctly identifies each injury caused by the accident and the effect of each such injury on the plaintiff. Consequently, the medical information is extremely important in maximizing damages.
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