By: Patrick Collins
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Medical Providers: Colorado Injury Update – 10 Things to Know About Personal Injury Cases
Medical providers not only help heal individuals who have suffered a personal injury, but they also play a crucial role in their compensation. Much to the injured party’s detriment, sometimes medical providers don‘t understand the personal injury case process or what evidence is needed to prove their patient‘s claim. Here are ten essential points that Colorado medical providers should know about personal injury cases and their patients who are pursuing them.
1. Your Medical Documentation Can Make or Break a Personal Injury Case
Medical records are vital pieces of evidence in any personal injury case. After all, your patient is claiming that they have suffered injuries. They are asking the court to provide them with compensation for medical expenses, future medical expenses, and compensation for their pain and suffering.
Their medical records are one of the most significant pieces of evidence they have. They need you to ensure that their records have correct, thorough information about the circumstances that caused their injuries and any treatments they have received.
2. Patient Prognosis Must Match the Records
Additionally, your patient‘s prognosis must also match up to your records about them. If you state that they are permanently disabled, will your medical documentation support that? Insurance adjusters and juries will be looking to ensure that they do. If they don‘t, your patient is likely to get less compensation.
3. Patients Need Open Communication
Patients impacted by a personal injury need medical providers, someone who takes the time to treat them and hears their symptoms, and documents them accurately. When a medical provider doesn‘t take their time with a patient, the records suffer.
4. The Duration and Extensiveness of Treatments Plays a Role
Personal injury patients don‘t want unnecessary or endless treatments that won‘t improve their overall condition. If it‘s determined that some of these treatments weren‘t medically necessary, your patient could be on the hook to pay for them and not the person who caused their injury.
5. Old Injuries Can Impact a Claim
While you might think an old injury would hurt their claim, it can actually do the opposite. If your patient had a previous injury, it might actually help them receive more for their injuries. The party who caused their personal injury “takes them as they are,“ meaning if they exacerbate an old injury, they are still liable for it.
6. Personal Injury Patients aren‘t More Likely to File a Legal Claim Against You than Other Patients
Some medical providers, especially physicians, are reluctant to provide their professional opinion or get involved with their patient‘s personal injury claim. They fear that if their patient uses their legal rights to pursue compensation against the person who caused their injuries, they could do the same thing to them now or later. This simply isn‘t true.
7. Honesty is Always the Best Policy
Whether you believe what you have to say will help or hurt your patient‘s legal case, honesty is still always the best policy. Give your honest, professional medical opinion in the patient‘s chart, when speaking with other doctors or their lawyer, and if being deposed or testifying.
8. Patients Who Have Legal Representation Typically Receive Higher Settlements
A study conducted by the Insurance Research Council shows that people who have suffered bodily injuries in a motor vehicle collision resulting from the driver, manufacturer, and/or government negligence win 3.5 times more compensation if they are represented by an attorney than injured individuals who don‘t hire a personal injury attorney. The study also found that in 85 percent of cases where an insurance company settles an injury claim, the injured party was represented by an attorney.
9. Not All Personal Injury Claims Turn into Lawsuits
Medical providers should also be aware that not all personal injury claims reach the litigation stage. In fact, the vast majority are settled out of court before a trial begins. According to the U.S. government, only about four to five percent of personal injury cases don‘t settle and go to trial.
10. You Can Refer Patients to Personal Injury Attorneys
It‘s not uncommon and legal for medical providers to refer their personal injury patients to a few different personal injury attorneys who can help them obtain compensation. Personal injury lawyers can often work with you to ensure that the patient‘s medical bills are paid once their settlement comes through by setting up a medical lien.
If you don‘t understand your role in a patient‘s personal injury claim or are unsure how you can help them, it‘s best to speak with their attorney. Dr. Collins understands both the medical and legal aspects of personal injury claims as he worked as a licensed Chiropractic Practitioner before practicing law. He will provide your personal injury patients with the best legal outcome possible.