Personal Injury/Workers Compensation Basics

The following are some basic ideas for you as the client who was involved in a motor vehicle accident or an accident at work. They may seem self-explanatory and/or basic to some of you, which they are, but you would be surprised how many people either forget or never knew them in the first place.

  1. When you go to the initial visit with the doctor at the Emergency Room and the follow-up visit(s) with your doctor or the company doctor make sure that you tell the doctor everything that is bothering you. If your follow-up visit after the Emergency Room is several days after the initial incident or longer make written notes (i.e. a diary) of how your body is feeling and the time of day when you notice changes. Many times right after an accident the trauma of the situation has not set in both physically or emotionally. Also, if you see more than one practitioner (i.e. doctor, nurse practitioner, massage therapist, physical therapist, etc.) in a particular office make sure that everyone is aware that your injuries were the result of a motor vehicle accident and whether it was work related.
  2. Make sure that you tell your doctor that you were involved in an accident. Be as specific and detailed as you can be about the accident. You would be surprised how many times that a medical record does not indicate that a person is being treated for an injury sustained from an accident.
  3. Take color photos of your injuries. The sooner the better and over a period of time, especially if you suffered bruising which changes color over time. If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident order a copy of the accident report and try to obtain photos of the vehicles in the accident.
  4. As time goes by continue to make a diary of how your body is reacting to the trauma. Are you able to maneuver like you did before the accident? Can you do your daily chores or tasks? If not, what can’t you do now that you could do before? Is your sleep affected? Do you now have headaches, whereas prior to the accident you didn’t?
  5. How has the accident affected your social life. If you have children, are you now not able to play with your kids, lift your kids? Did you do certain kinds of activity prior to the accident that you can’t do now, i.e. taking walks, hiking, biking, skiing, golf, tennis, working out, dancing, etc.? Are you less able to be intimate (cuddling, hugging, sex) with your partner?
  6. Keep a Time and Mileage Log regarding the time and distance that you go to treatment providers. This is more important in Personal Injury cases because in Worker’s Comp. cases you may still be compensated by your employer, but it is better to have the information for your lawyer than not to have it.
  7. Make a list of the treatment providers that you have seen, including the name of doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, acupuncturist, etc., the name of the clinic where s/he practices, if applicable, and their telephone number. This makes it much easier to track down treatment and billing records later.
  8. Make a copy of a couple of pay stubs around the time of the accident. Make sure that the pay stub includes the benefits, i.e. sick leave, hourly rate on it. If you are self-employed locate and put a copy of your latest income tax return with your materials/file folder where you have your papers related to the accident.
  9. If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident make a copy of your automobile insurance Declaration Page. If you were driving a company vehicle see if you can obtain one from your employer regarding the vehicle in which you were driving.
  10. Keep your documents organized in a large envelope in a logical place that you will remember and where your kids or pets can’t get to them.
  11. When you meet with an attorney bring your file to the initial meeting. Thereafter keep your attorney apprised of new developments, i.e. doctor appointments, especially if you are seeing a specialist or getting testing, i.e. MRI, CAT SCAN, blood testing, etc.
  12. If you hire an attorney, tell him/her everything regarding your case. Don’t hold back anything until later because it may be critical. If your doctor is telling you something that you don’t agree with or doesn’t appear to be addressing your concerns tell your attorney. He or she can attempt to get those concerns addressed with the doctor. Don’t be afraid to ask your attorney questions. If your attorney gives you “homework” do it on a timely basis. We are not asking you to do something to waste your time. If you have a concern about something requested of you, voice your concern. Your attorney should address your concern(s) and explain in terms you can understand why s/he is asking you to do something or why something is important.