While we all hope it will never happen to ourselves or someone we care about, personal injuries and motor vehicle accidents are a fact of life. When you’ve been injured, whether it is in a slip and fall or a car accident, your mind is awash with so many thoughts … What happens next? … What do I do now? … To whom can I reach out? …
It can be overwhelming to say the least.
Taking some time to think about and document everything that has happened can be a useful tool, both to help organize everything, but also to preserve evidence of what has occurred in case it is needed at a later time. The following are some recommendations on what steps to take and what you should document:
- Take photographs of visible injuries including swelling, bruises, abrasions and contusions.
- Do not post anything on the internet that may be detrimental to your personal injury claim, and more importantly adjust your online privacy settings so that the whole world does not have access to what you post on the internet.
- Do not discuss the incident and your injuries with persons outside of your attorney’s office or your medical providers.
- Make a list of any witnesses to the accident or those persons with knowledge of how the injuries have affected you, your daily life and your family.
- It is extremely important that you attend all scheduled medical and therapy appointments. Actively being treated to improve your physical condition is significant.
- Consider making notes between appointments noting the location and type of pain you experience and whether you are having trouble doing any of your usual activities because of pain.
- Take notes to each appointment to explain to the doctor any and all pain you are having, even if you think it is insignificant, and let them know if you are having trouble doing any of your usual activities. If the doctor believes your symptoms and restricted activities are due to the accident, ask them to include this information in your medical record.
- Follow the advice of your physician regarding treatment, take medication as prescribed and complete the recommended course of physical therapy, unless otherwise instructed by your doctor or therapist
- To assert a claim for lost wages there must be medical evidence that you could not work because of the injury and because a doctor ordered you to modify your work activities. Please be sure to ask the doctor for a written note stating the specific work limitations or restrictions. Provide the note to your employer and a copy to your attorney.
- Contact your attorney if you are referred to a new doctor or facility so that we can make note of it in our file and request bills and records
- Medical bills may be submitted to your health insurance or auto insurance for payment from medical payment coverage (but not both). PLEASE NOTE it is your responsibility to make sure that your medical bills are paid. The responsible party’s insurance does not pay medical bills until the claim is settled, which in many cases could be a year or more. In the meantime, delinquent medical bills could be reported to credit reporting agencies.
- Your health insurance is entitled to be paid back the money it pays out for medical bills (known as subrogation). You may receive a questionnaire from your health insurance to complete regarding the reason for your injuries. If you receive either a questionnaire or correspondence regarding a subrogation claim, provide a copy to your attorney so she/he can follow up with your health insurance.
- In the form of a letter to your attorney (or letters, as your treatment and recovery progress) describe:
- The incident and how you felt at the time of the incident and immediately after, both physically and emotionally
- Specific pains, including location, frequency and type
- Medical treatments
- Prescriptions, including over-the-counter products, and the intended benefit
- How you are physically restricted or inconvenienced by your condition
- Day-to-day activities that have been affected including employment, home life, child care, social and recreational activities
- The impact your injuries have on your quality of life
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Home treatment or therapy you may be instructed to perform along with the type and frequency
- Intimacy issues
- Forward to your attorney receipts for out-of-pocket expenses such as co-pays, prescriptions, patient balances, medical equipment and services you may need during your recovery.
- Out of pocket expenses may include ambulance service, doctor and hospital bills, x-rays, laboratory and similar tests, physical therapy, nursing assistance, medical appliances such as braces, crutches, cervical collars, pins, and prescription drug expenses.
- Services required may include housekeeping, babysitting, yard work or other homemaker services that you would have normally performed yourself.
- If you are fitted with medical appliances, please save those devices and bring them to our office once you have concluded your treatment.
If you have any questions regarding a personal injury matter, contact an attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan and put their experience in personal injury matters to work for you.
Kevin P. Rauseo is a former director at Hamblett & Kerrigan P.A. and has since been appointed as a Justice for the New Hampshire Circuit Court. Please feel free to contact another attorney at Hamblett & Kerrigan to discuss your legal issues.