Thomas E. Scifres PC - Attorney At Law.
Thomas E. Scifres PC - Attorney At Law.
  • 43 Public Square,
    Suite 103,
    Salem, IN 47167
  • Schedule Your Free Personal Injury Consultation.

    (812) 359-8007

    Call For An Appointment To Discuss Your Needs.

The Role Of Medical Care In Personal Injury Claims

The Role Of Medical Care In Personal Injury Claims 4The Importance Of Immediate And Documented Medical Attention

At the beginning of my law career, I worked exclusively for insurance companies and personal injury cases. For the first ten years of my career, I saw these cases from the insurance company’s side. Toward the end of that period I served as in-house counsel for a popular insurance company. In that capacity, I did not handle many lawsuits and claims personally, but I actually hired outside defense attorneys to handle the defense of lawsuits and supervised the handling of those lawsuits that were defended by outside attorneys.

In all of my time working for the side of the insurance companies, I never directly witnessed any actual “vindictiveness” against claimants, and never developed the sense that the insurance companies are “evil,” as a lot of my colleagues might suggest. But I know that insurance adjusters are human beings, that all human beings are different, and at any given time, any human may act out of personality and emotion rather than out of “principle” based on objective facts. Therefore, just like any other human, an insurance adjuster can develop an attitude about a particular claim if the claimant or the attorney are hostile from the outset. Our approach is to seek cooperation and provide the information the adjuster needs to substantiate paying out on a claim. The tendency of the adjuster to be that way may not just depend on their personality, but can also be impacted by the corporate culture of the insurance company. What these things often boil down to is the fact that insurance companies only have a duty to pay out on legitimate claims and to only pay for what they determine is fair. Our job is to make sure they understand the legitimacy of the claim (liability and causation) and to provide substantial reasons for the basis of a higher amount of money than they may otherwise be inclined to offer.

What I observed as an insurance company attorney was that many people didn’t actually appear to be injured. After the accident, this is what I saw time and time again from claimants:

  • They told the police officer they were fine.
  • They said no to an ambulance.
  • They didn’t call a relative to come to pick them up.
  • They didn’t seek medical treatment until after consulting with an attorney.

And while these actions do not mean these people were not injured, such do tend to suggest that conclusion. In those cases, there is an initial skepticism likely to form that will serve as a hurdle to overcome.

This is why I repeat the importance of getting immediate medical treatment even if you don’t think you’re hurt. You should take the opportunity to make sure that you really are okay. Especially when someone else has just broken the traffic laws and slammed into your vehicle, as you may have adrenaline pumping through your veins that masks pain.

After an accident, getting checked out is imperative even if you’re hurt only a little bit. Take the time to make sure you don’t miss something and make yourself worse by not seeking proper medical care. And this way, you can avoid a delay in seeking treatment and minimize the chance that the insurance company will conclude that yours is a bogus claim.

The Importance Of Following Medical Advice

I really want to emphasize that we focus exclusively on what puts you, our client, in the best possible position or situation that results in a positive outcome. This includes the fact that a personal injury claim or a lawsuit is not just about money.

Renowned trial consultant David Ball said the most important trial concepts are, “To fix what can be fixed, to help what can be helped, and to make up by the verdict for what cannot be fixed or helped.”

Consequently, if a medical problem can be fixed and restored, you should want to do that. The doctors, hospitals, and therapists are medical professionals who are trained to treat injuries. Following their advice suggests that you will most likely get better.

From a money standpoint, if you don’t do what the medical professionals say to do, it has two impacts:

  • It gives the jury the idea that you may be faking the injury because if you were really hurt, you “should” want to get better.
    • (Not following medical advice is behavior that suggests you do not want to get better. )
  • It may be treated as a failure to mitigate your damages.
    • (This can leave you partially at fault for your injuries and reduce the overall value of your claim.

Consider the point of view of the individual jurors who will one day serve on a jury for your case. They are supposed to act collectively as a neutral third party. The goal is to present the evidence in a way that ensures they believe you and don’t believe the insurance company – that they conclude you’re injured and award you the money you need to help you become whole again.

With our clients, we always focus on what it takes to make them as whole as they can be made following an injury. We don’t make money our focus. If we claim that we are seeking a recovery from the other side for what was taken from our clients, then our attitudes and actions between the time of the incident and the day of trial need to reflect that. Otherwise, jurors may read us as insincere. So, while our only recourse in the civil justice system is money, we stay true to the notion that our goal is to restore what has been taken. Therefore, from the outset, , you should want to get better. As such, working toward restoring your health is the most important thing you can do.

The Effect Your Past And Present Medical History Has On Personal Injury Claims

Your past and present medical history will certainly have an impact on your personal injury claim and the trial. A prior injury or medical condition can increase the value of your claim, or it can diminish the value of your claim. The most significant factor in this is the nature of your prior injury and how similar it was to the nature of your current claims. If they are quite similar, the insurance company is going to want to see your prior medical records, and there is a good chance they will be entitled to review them. But there are exceptions…

As a general rule, the physician-patient privilege ensures that your medical records are confidential and privileged. Thus, they are not viewable by unnecessary third parties. However, it is generally understood that when you make a claim for personal injuries, you waive that privilege, but not entirely.

Generally, it is acceptable for your medical records to be released to the insurance company because they have a right to evaluate whether this injury resulted from this accident or whether this injury was something you already suffered from.

There are times when the attorney must intervene for the injured party to allow the insurance company to look at relevant medical records – but not unrelated medical information that has no bearing on the personal injury claim. The attorney seeks a ruling to make such unrelated medical information non-discoverable.

However, if you’re claiming emotional distress and pain and suffering and the need for counseling as a result of this accident and you are already suffering from depression or anxieties and marital distress, the judge might rule that the jury has a right to hear that you already have problems in these areas.

With the guidance of a skilled attorney for Personal Injury Cases, you can have the peace of mind that comes with knowing that we’ll make it look easy. For more information on Personal Injury Law In Indiana, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (812) 359-8007 today.

Thomas E. Scifres

Schedule Your Free Personal Injury Consultation.
(812) 359-8007
Call For An Appointment To Discuss Your Needs.

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