Three Ways to Ruin Your Doctor’s Visit and Your Erie Car Accident Case
If you’ve been hurt in a Pennsylvania car crash, you may have heard that the way you deal with your doctor can ruin your car accident injury case. There are three common mistakes that car accident victims make that can be easily avoided.
People who’ve been injured in Erie car accidents often make mistakes with their doctors that ruin a car accident case. As Erie car crash lawyers, we too often see the results of these mistakes and wish we could have counseled the car accident victims before they’d made these common errors.
Three mistakes stand out as both the most common and the most easily avoided mistakes when dealing with doctors after a Pennsylvania car accident. These mistakes tend to be the results of personalities and could be avoided by the application of one simple rule: “Just the facts” or “Tell the truth.” But rather than leave it at that, here, in more detail, are three simple mistakes that ruin doctor’s office visits and car accident cases, alike.
1. Don’t Overstate or Minimize Your Erie Car Accident
As Erie car accident lawyers, we see it all the time. Some people (most, maybe?) can’t help but overlay their personality on the accident. Some people tend to minimize their Pennsylvania car accident by saying something like, “Oh, it wasn’t that bad.” Some people tend to make it more dramatic: “The impact made my car fly through the air!” Either approach is bad for you, your doctor, and your Erie car accident case.
The best approach is to be factual and complete. This gives your doctor the best and most reliable information to use in his or her care and treatment of you. Factual and complete information is also the best thing for your accident case. Why?
Your description of the car accident will be written down by your doctor or their assistant. That writing will follow your case from start to finish. If there’s anything in the medical records about your case that is inaccurate, it will be used against you by defense counsel, who will suggest either that the accident wasn’t as bad as it really was (because you minimized it when you talked to your doctor) or that you aren’t a very reliable historian (because you exaggerated it when you talked to your doctor). Either way, by varying from the facts you’ve given the insurance company and their defense lawyer a weapon to use against you later on.
Not only can the insurance company use your inaccurate statements against you, but they can use those statements against your doctor. At some point in your Erie car accident case, your doctor may have to testify about your diagnosis and treatment. That doctor may be asked to offer opinions about what injuries you suffered in the car accident. If you’ve given the doctor inaccurate information, then the insurance company and their defense lawyer will suggest that your doctor’s opinions aren’t reliable because they’re based on inaccurate information.
2. Don’t Overstate or Understate Your Symptoms
Another common mistake we see in our Erie car accident cases is inaccurate or incomplete descriptions of symptoms. Some people minimize or omit symptoms. Some people overstate their symptoms. Neither approach is helpful.
If you understate your symptoms, those statements will obviously be used against you later. If, for example, your broken leg really hurts and so does your back, but your back does not hurt as much as your leg, you should report both symptoms to your doctor. If you keep your back pain to yourself, then your doctor can’t write it down and if, after your leg heals, you still have back problems, then the insurance company and their defense lawyers will use the absence of back complaints in the records to suggest that your back pain wasn’t caused by your Erie car accident.
Overstating your Pennsylvania car accident symptoms can be just as damaging. If you report to your doctor that you can’t stand for more than 10 minutes or walk more than five blocks and witnesses or surveillance tape shows otherwise, you will have ruined both your credibility and your doctor’s credibility. (Keep in mind that your doctor is relying on you to give truthful information.) If what you mean is that it hurts to stand for a long time or walk for a long time, then tell your doctor that it hurts. But avoid making statements that are inaccurate or overblown.
3. Don’t Hide Your Medical History
In our Erie car crash law practice, we’ve seen this many times. An injury victim had a similar injury 10 years before. It got better. Now they’ve been in an Erie car accident and the same area that was injured 10 years ago hurts again. They’re asked, “Did you ever injure this body part before?” Their answer? “Nope.”
Sometimes we forget old injuries. Sometimes we think that they just don’t matter because they’re so old. But believe us when we tell you that it is a mistake to forget or omit information about past injuries when you’re asked by your doctor. No matter how innocent or inadvertent your omission, the insurance company and their defense lawyer will try to make it seem that you were intentionally hiding the information about your prior injury. Once it’s shown that you failed to answer a question about your medical history accurately, the best you can hope for is the inference that you’re not a very reliable witness. The worst inference, of course, is that you were being dishonest as part of an effort to make your case look better. Either way, inaccurate or dishonest, you will have hurt your car accident case. So, think hard and make sure that you disclose all of your prior injuries, if asked.
The Bottom Line
If you were recently hurt in an Erie car accident, you almost certainly have many questions. Call Purchase, George & Murphey, P.C. today to talk for free with one of our Erie car crash lawyers at 814-833-7100. You can also contact us via the online consult form.