By David Peel
As an injury lawyer, one of the common problems that occur in my cases is delay in treatment.
There are two times where this tends to occur. Initially someone might be in a car accident and feel very tight but not necessarily in extraordinary pain. As a result, they tend to tell the ambulance to go on back to the hospital and they will go home and try to rest. Oftentimes the next couple days are worse then they could’ve imagined.
Sometimes they’ll go ahead and head to the ER on day two or three after an accident. They haven’t been at work because they been hurting but yet they have no doctors’ note excusing them from such work. The ER is only going to do basic x-rays to determine if there’s a fracture which they assume there’s not if you been walking around for three days. And then they’ll tell you to follow up with your family doctor. Your family doctor is going to tell you to take a muscle relaxer and maybe a pain pill or anti-inflammatory for two weeks and come back if it’s not better.
So, the delay in getting emergency treatment winds up slowing the recovery from the accident. It also creates a problem with insurance companies who wonder why it took 48 to 72 hours for someone to show up in an ER after an accident once an ambulance had been dispatched.
The other delay in treatment that we run into is after some physical therapy when the patient decides I can do some of that at home and they stop going. After months of not improving any and maybe heading back to where they were prior to formal physical therapy, they reappear at a doctor or a physical therapist and the insurance company wonders why there was a 5 to 8 month delay in treatment.
At least initially, insurance companies are very hesitant to pay for treatment after major delays. They’re suspicious types when they feel like maybe you got hurt playing softball or maybe you picked up something wrong during that big delay and suddenly you had to return back to the doctor. How could you possibly need treatment related back to an accident of eight or 12 months ago?
And that is one of the reasons that it’s worth hiring an attorney to simply allow you to focus on your medical care. Most of my clients are not the pursuing type. They’re not excited about doing this and don’t want to go to the doctor for nothing. And I never encourage people to go to the doctor unless they truly need the treatment.
However, I think we get into the habit of comparing how we’re feeling now with how we felt a month ago and determine since we’re improving we don’t have to continue to make these inconvenient and expensive doctor visits. What I encourage my clients to do is to compare how they’re doing now with how they were doing before the accident. If they haven’t returned to their pre-accident status they need to continue seeking medical treatment.
Not only does this avoid major delays in treatment, which can really complicate the case and delay recovery, but it also helps the doctors give you the treatment that you need. For instance, many insurance companies will not pay for an MRI, which is a pretty involved and expensive diagnostic test, until you’ve done a lot of other things first.
When people skip going to the doctor for a long time, but later still complain of pain during that time, they can be cross examined in a way such as this: “so how many doctors offices and hospitals do you pass on the way into work? By my calculations you pass 19 different medical facilities within one block of your route to work that you’ve told me about. Does that sound right? But during all those trips to work and all those trips back from work you never for an eight month period ever pulled into any of those medical care providers seeking any kind of treatment but yet you say you were in this terrible pain. Here on Facebook you’re also on vacation during that time. “
You get the idea. When you hired an attorney, you were not just hiring someone to negotiate the final results. A good injury attorney handles negotiations with your healthcare provider that usually needs to be paid back, negotiations with the other side, and gives you advice throughout the case to keep you from having problems that are easily avoidable. Ultimately that advice also results in better care for you and a more complete recovery both physically and financially.
Peel seeks justice for those injured in car accidents, work place incidents, medical malpractice, and nursing homes. He often addresses churches, clubs and groups without charge. Peel may be reached through PeelLawFirm.com wherein other articles may be accessed.
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