COMMON MISTAKES WHEN HURT ON THE JOB (PART 6)
Our last entry in this series discussed the importance of consistent ongoing communication with the client and the attorney. This blog entry will focus on the importance of consistent and ongoing communication with ones doctor whether it be an on-the-job injury or a motor vehicle accident or Social Security Disability claim.
As it pertains to work injury claims, it is important to see your doctor every thirty days. Even more important is to make sure you articulate, concise and thorough when explaining your ongoing symptoms or conditions to your doctor. If you are having difficulty walking-tell your doctor. If you are having difficulty sitting for prolonged periods of time-tell your doctor. If you are having trouble sleeping or concentrating due to pain or fatigue or any other condition-tell your doctor. If you are developing pain in different parts of the body compared to when you were first injured- tell your doctor. If you are having trouble doing your current work-tell your doctor. I could go on and on with these examples!
Also, do not assume that your doctor is either listening to you or understands what you are telling him or her. We review countless medical records each day at Shlesinger & deVilleneuve and are no longer surprised by the very pithy and sometimes illegible records provided by the medical providers. It is okay to ask ones medical provider to include certain information in their medical chart notes. It is also okay to ask for a copy of your medical records. If you feel that your medical provider has misunderstood, has included something in your medical records that is inaccurate or has left out important information as it pertains to your ongoing symptoms or conditions please bring this to their attention immediately. I often tell my clients that when it comes to getting an appropriate settlement or prevailing in court, what matters most is a thorough consistent medical track record that speaks to ones ongoing or residual impairments.
If you feel your doctor is not listening to you or their interests may be aligned in another direction, it might be time to discuss switching doctors with your attorney. As stated in prior posts, in a workers’ compensation claim, you have the ability to switch doctors at least two times. Getting good medical care can make all the difference in getting better and being able to return to better function and normal work activities. Having a good fit with your medical provider will be key to you getting better and the overall success of your workers’ compensation or motor vehicle injury claim.
We have found that our client’s who are articulate, calm and polite when dealing with their medical provider often have better outcomes with their medical treatment and success of their claim. This is sometimes easier said than done. When a person is not feeling good, has been in a serious accident, is in significant pain, good, polite communication can be difficult. If you are having trouble communicating, it is often a good idea to bring another family member with you to your appointment. They should be able to assist with this and to make sure that your doctor is not only writing in your chart what you are telling him OR her, but understands the true nature of your ongoing symptoms or conditions.
Never let a representative of the insurance company attend a medical appointment with you without first speaking to your attorney. Remember this representative is usually a nurse-case manager that is hired by the insurance company to represent their interests, not yours! We have learned over the years, that the main objective for this nurse-case manager is to limit the exposure to the insurance company and get an injured worker returned to work, often before they are medically ready to do so.
In summary, see your doctor every thirty days when hurt-on-the job. Pick a doctor that will listen to you and will make entries into your chart that are not only concise but accurate. Don’t be afraid to ask your doctor to include certain information in your chart or to ask for a copy of your medical records, so you can review for accuracy. And finally, don’t be afraid to switch doctors if necessary. Talk to your attorney right away if you feel this might need to happen.
The above information is NOT a substitute for legal advice and should not be interpreted as the dissemination of legal advice. It is only meant as general guidance on various issues which may be applicable to your situation. It is critical that you consult with an experienced attorney before taking any legal action or have specific questions addressing your particular case answered