Donald Colvin, Esq

Should I Share All Information with My Doctor If I Am Involved in An Injury Claim?

Yes, you should always be honest with your doctor. Doctor-patient privilege means that whatever you tell or share with your doctor, including all of your medical history, medical information, and medical records for your records and your health information, will be kept confidential.

It is very important to be forthcoming, open, and honest with your doctor so that they can properly evaluate, diagnose, and treat your injuries. Mentioning details about the accident can only help, rather than hurt, your case. In addition, having it on the record that you sought treatment for your injuries can help your case, and having no records of having sought treatment can harm your case. This is more incentive to be honest with your doctor if you are injured in an accident.

Will Any Pre-Existing Conditions Be Used Against Me In My Personal Injury Case?

There is a legal doctrine sometimes known as “the eggshell rule” or “the talem qualem rule” that holds that in personal injury cases, defendants must take the plaintiff as they find them, regardless of preexisting condition. This specifically means that a preexisting frailty or predisposition to retain more damage from an injury is not a legal defense to the injury. Certain conditions can make you more vulnerable to specific types of injuries, and may mean that those injuries have a much more serious impact on you than they would have on the average person. This does not void the defendant’s responsibility for the injury or the impact. Regardless of preexisting conditions, the defendant could still be responsible for the injury and the resulting damages caused by the accident.

So, as a general rule, preexisting conditions can’t be held against you. However, it is important to discuss these pre-existing conditions with an experienced attorney early on in your case to protect your rights.

At What Point In The Personal Injury Process Will The Insurance Company Make The First Offer?

Sometimes insurance companies make an offer to settle claims within weeks or within a month of an accident. This is usually an attempt to get you to settle your case before you even know the full extent of your injuries. These offers are usually very low and may be described deceptively as the best settlement you’re going to get. This is almost never the case, and it is almost never in your best interest to accept an insurance company’s first offer.

What Questions Will The Insurance Adjuster Ask Me About The Accident And My Injuries?

The adjusters will ask you general questions about who you are, what you were doing at the time of the accident, and how you think the accident happened, and what you did after the accident. Common questions include:

  • Where were you were driving?
  • How fast were you going?
  • What were you doing before the accident?
  • What were you planning on doing with the rest of your day?
  • How were you driving?
  • What lane were you in?
  • Which direction were you going?
  • Were you talking on or looking at your phone?
  • When did you first see the other car/cars?
  • Were you aware of the other cars before impact, and if so, how soon before?
  • What is the last thing you remember before the accident?
  • What is the first thing you remember after the accident?
  • How did you feel in the immediate aftermath of the accident? Did you feel injured?
  • Did you have any immediate pain, disorientation, or mobility issues? If so, exactly what and where?
  • Did you notice any external injuries to your body, like bruising, bleeding, laceration, or burns?
  • Did you lose consciousness at any point?
  • Did you have pain or issues moving at any point after the accident?
  • Did your airbag inflate?
  • Did you hit the steering wheel?
  • Were you wearing a seatbelt?

They will also ask you questions about the immediate aftermath of the accident. These can include:

  • How soon after the accident did you leave your car?
  • Were you able to get out of the car by yourself or did you require assistance?
  • Did police come to the scene? Did the EMTs or the fire department?
  • Was there a police report filed?
  • Was there anyone else there who might have witnessed the accident?
  • Did you get checked out by EMTs on the scene?
  • Did you take an ambulance ride to the hospital?
  • Did you immediately go to the ER?
  • Did you go to urgent care?
  • Who was with you during this process?

They may also ask you questions about your ensuing medical treatment, including the specific places and doctors from whom you sought treatment, as well as what that treatment entailed, and what the recommended follow-up prescriptions were. They will ask you many specific details about your injuries, including your diagnosis, treatment, symptoms (before, after, and currently), and prognosis, usually to find reasons to reduce the value of your claim.

They may also ask you about the condition of your car and the damage it sustained, as well as how you are currently getting around, and whether you have obtained or need a rental car.

If the Insurance Company Does Not Make A Fair Offer, What Are The Next Steps?

If you are still receiving treatment for your injuries, we may want to continue monitoring and evaluating your treatment and your ongoing care. Once we have a clear picture of the extent of the injuries and how much we think your claim is worth, we will present relevant findings to the insurance company in a follow-up demand.

If there are any major changes to your condition, we will that to their attention as soon as possible. A worsening injury may make an insurance company more inclined to accept an offer in order to avoid having to pay a larger settlement later on.

Usually, the negotiation process at this stage will go back and forth several times, with offers and counteroffers from both sides. If we are unable to come to a fair agreement or a settlement in this fashion, then the next step is to file a lawsuit against the parties that you were in the accident with. If there are no other parties, (i.e., if it’s an uninsured motorist claim), then we start to pursue arbitration.

The Insurance Company Offered Me A Settlement Right Away. Should I Accept It?

Almost always, the answer to this question is no.

For one thing, you generally want to hold off on accepting a settlement until you know the full extent of your injuries, your diagnosis, and your prognosis. It is usually best not to accept any settlement before you have that information in place. In some cases, it’s best to wait until the client has healed, or has healed as much as they are expected to. In these cases, I also often recommend making sure that this state is stable. In some cases, patients reach a stable level of healing and then experience a relapse of their condition, which can make the condition and the patient’s “base level” state more severe. If a client has already settled, they cannot amend their original agreed-upon sum, even if the same injury is now, in fact, more expensive. This leads to clients ultimately settling for less than the true value of their claim, and not getting appropriate compensation for their injuries, pain, suffering, and lack of ability to work. To avoid this miscalculation, I like to wait until a patient’s condition is stable for some time before saying yes to a settlement.

In addition, as mentioned previously, the first offer made by an insurance company is almost never for the full worth of the claim. Insurance companies expect clients (or, clients who know what they are doing) not to accept the first offer, but rather to negotiate from there.

For more information on Sharing Information with Your Doctor In CA, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (661) 616-1177 today.