After sustaining an injury, the importance of getting medical treatment cannot be overstated. Your attorney uses your medical records to help prove your injury. If you fail to get medical care, you’re asking your lawyer to work a miracle without any evidence.
As a plaintiff, you have a duty to mitigate the harm that was caused. What that means is that you have a duty to try to get better. The defendant caused you harm, but what you do after that point can make a huge difference in your recovery.
The law requires that you take steps to try to get back to the place you were prior to the defendant causing you harm. This does not mean you have to undergo risky invasive medical procedures, but it does mean that you need to follow up with your primary care provider, any specialists you’ve been referred to, and do any non-invasive rehabilitative care that is prescribed.
You also have to use common sense. For example, if your doctor has recommended physical therapy, but it’s very painful and doesn’t seem to be helping, instead of just not showing up for your treatments or showing up and being tortured, reconnect with your referring doctor and let them know what you’re experiencing. Chances are that your doctor may recommend further diagnostic tests or imaging to see what may be causing the problem.
Having emphasized the importance of getting care, you also don’t want to just go to the doctor to increase your claim value. Either you’re severely injured and in need of rehabilitative care, or you were hurt initially but recovered fairly well.
The overriding assumption is that if someone is injured and still having problems, they will continue to try to get better. Obviously, if someone is severely injured, their claim is going to be worth more than someone that bounces right back.
However, the defendant is only liable for the harm they caused to you personally, so if you are not having any ongoing difficulty continuing to go to the doctor just to increase your claim value can have the opposite effect by harming the value of your case and your credibility.
In a plaintiff case, your credibility is everything. Jurors do not want to help someone they believe is trying to get money they aren’t entitled to.
Everyone knows that someone who is injured has some improvement over time after the initial injury, and that some of that improvement is due to following your doctor’s orders with regard to rehabilitative care.
If you only attend two physical therapy appointments because it’s a burden to get time off work, your claim is going to be worth less than if you made the time, and got the recommended care. It’s also likely that by not getting the recommended care, a jury may see your ongoing difficulties or lack of recovery as your own fault.
Universal Truths Related to Injury Care
- Injured people go to the doctor and do what their doctor tells them to do.
- Injured people go back to their doctor if the treatment or medical care is not working or seems to cause increased problems.
- Injured people don’t fake their symptoms, they can’t.
- Injured people don’t go to the doctor just to try to get money from someone else.
- Injured people do make progress in their recovery by following their doctors orders.
- The only way to know if an injured person has a permanent condition, is after receiving and following all their doctor’s recommended treatment.
- An injured person will do everything they can to try to get better.
Remember, Jurors want to help people that have suffered an injury, but they also want to make sure that the amount of money they award is appropriate for the harm that occurred.
Because of that, you want to get any recommended care, so your lawyer can “show” the jury that you did everything you could to try to get better. The jury can then feel confident in you, and will usually want to help you recover your damages.