How To Be Your Own Best Advocate in Personal Injury Cases

When a client asks if there’s anything they can do to assist me with their personal injury claim, the answer is always, absolutely.

First, when an injured client isn’t feeling well, it’s easy to become forgetful, easily distracted and lose mental acuity. It may help to print out these simple steps to ensure that you’re doing as much as you can to help yourself out medically as well as to enhance your legal claim.

  • Always, always keep your doctor appointments. Failure to timely treat will delay your recuperation and great lapses in treatment can look as if you’re not truly injured. “How bad can your client’s injury be if he cancelled half his treatments and didn’t treat at all for two months?” This can be devastating to a claim;
  • Don’t be afraid to complain about your level of pain and/or discomfort. Some clients, men in particular, don’t want to sound like they’re “whining” and tend to downplay their aches and pains. This sometimes gets translated into “Patient states he’s doing great!” in a doctor’s charts. Well, for that day maybe, but make sure your doctor knows about last Saturday when you spent the day on the couch after mowing your lawn and aggravating your low back;
  • Along those lines, probably the most helpful advice is to document your disabilities in a weekly journal. At some point, you will feel somewhat better as you continue to treatment.  When your lawyer asks you six months from now how this injury has affected your daily routine, you may not recall some of the ways this complicated your life, even temporarily. If you write it down every Friday evening how you progressed during the week, there won’t be any question down the road. Some memorable entries from past clients include: “I had to throw out all of my lace shoes since I couldn’t bend down to tie them. I had to buy all loafers.”  Another client wrote: “I cannot leave for work until I have drained the hot water tank in the shower. It takes all the hot water in my house to make me mobile.”
  • When documenting your disabilities think about three very important aspects of your life: Your home life, your work life and your recreations.  If you have to heavily rely on your spouse to do things you used to do around the house, that’s important.  You now have to take a break every 20 minutes at work or else your neck goes into spasm. That’s important. You used to belong to a bowling league every Friday night but now you must rest up from the week on a Friday and had to quit. All of these things are relevant, related and make you, you. It is the things insurance adjusters remember and can relate to. You are an individual, not just a claim number;
  • It’s important that you update your attorney at every new turn. If one doctor refers you to another, don’t assume that we will find out. Contact your lawyer to advise so that we can be one step ahead and contact him or her;
  • Finally, keep an updated list of your out-of-pocket expenses. Keep a list of it all, prescription costs for even over-the-counter pain relievers, mileage to and from all physicians’ offices, co-pays for visits, time missed from work. It all adds up and will be presented as a medical special at the end of the case for reimbursement. While it doesn’t necessarily add up dollar-for-dollar, it is an element of your financial damages.

If you keep these in mind, you will greatly assist yourself, your physicians and your attorney, and your case by extension.  It all sounds like common senses, I know, but when clients aren’t feeling like themselves, it helps to have some linear and logical guidance.  Good luck, and good health!

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