If you are injured in an accident or a slip and fall (or some other personal injury event), be sure that you mention all of your injuries to your doctors after the injury causing incident regardless of the reason for your visit to the doctor.
Why is this important?
If you end up filing a lawsuit, the defense will subpoena all of your medical records, regardless of the reason for your doctor visit, to see if you mentioned the injury causing event and if you mentioned your injuries.
For example, if you see your primary care doctor for a check up two days after a car accident where you hurt your neck and back, the defense will subpoena records from your primary care doctor to see if you complained of neck and back pain during your visit, even though you did not visit your primary care doctor for anything related to the accident.
So, if you visit any doctor after injuring yourself in an accident or a slip and fall, you must mention all of your injuries to the doctor, nurse practitioner or anyone else taking down your medical history.
Why should you mention your injuries even if you are not visiting the doctor for anything related to your accident?
Insurance companies and their defense attorneys look for every opportunity to attack your credibility. One of the ways to attack your credibility is to look for inconsistencies and blow them out of proportion. So, if you are injured after a car accident (e.g. suffer from neck and back pain) and do not mention them to your doctor, regardless of your visit to your doctor, they will exploit and use it to attack your credibility.
What about your privacy?
If you file a lawsuit, the defense will generally be allowed to seek medical records that are in close proximity of the incident to determine if you complained of any injuries. So, even though you are not visiting your primary care doctor for the accident, these records may be fair game to the defense who will attack your credibility if you fail to mention your injuries and the accident.
There are instances where your privacy may allow you to prevent the defense from seeking such medical records. However, these instances are rare and you should seek the advice of an attorney to determine whether you have grounds to prevent the production of such documents.
Do you need to mention the incident in “detail”?
No. You need to “generally” mention it as it pertains to your injuries, without getting into great details. For example: “Doctor, I am having back spasms and they started after my car accident on Tuesday.” or “Nurse, my knee has been swollen ever since I fell at the Supermarket.” The more details you give during this stage, the more you box yourself in on and you create more opportunities for inconsistencies. So, less is more.
Should you do this even if you have no intention of bringing an injury claim against the responsible party?
Yes. Remember that in personal injury cases, you generally have some time to bring an injury claim or a lawsuit against the responsible party. (This is called a Statute of Limitations. Each state has its own set of rules on Statute of Limitations. If you want to find out about a specific case, you should consult with an attorney.)
Your feelings and opinions about pursuing an injury claim may change over time or your injuries may get worse. The insurance company may act nice and you think that they will pay for your medical bills, but when you present them with the bill, they refuse to pay for all or part of it. So,you never know.
If you change your mind, if your injuries get worse or the insurance company starts playing games with you, then you may wish to pursue and injury claim or file a lawsuit months later and if you failed to tell your doctor about your injuries in the very beginning, there are already part of your medical records.
This article is brought to you by Attorney Mason Rashtian of The Mason Law Firm. This article is only for informational purposes and not meant to serve as legal advice.
If you have been involved in a car accident and wish to speak with someone about your rights, please give us a call. We will provide you with an honest and complete assessment and educate you as to your options.
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The Mason Law Firm
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Valencia, CA 91355