Rule #1: Don't Delay in Seeking Medical Treatment
It may seem obvious, but it's best to go to a doctor right away to
get checked out. Delaying the treatment can be dangerous and the insurance
companies will look at the time from the accident to when you sought treatment.
When you do see your doctor, tell him or her everything that’s wrong
so they are certain to document you injuries. There’s an old saying
when it comes to medical records – “if it’s not in the
record, it didn’t happen.”
Rule #2: Your Doctor Is Not Your Lawyer
Many doctors -- like orthopedists, physical therapists and neurologists
who see a lot of people in accidents -- may want to give you legal help.
They may steer you to a lawyer and tell you how to deal with the insurance
company. The last thing you want is advice that is not in your best interests
concerning the insurance company. Insurance companies will track if the
doctor sends all of his patients to a particular lawyer, and use this
information against you.
Rule #3: Factor in Your Injury with Your Ability to Work
If you are injured, you will miss time from work. If you are unable to
work, make sure your doctor gives you a work excuse for all of the time
you need to be off. If your doctor gives you an off-work slip, it's
important that your doctor actually know what you do for a living -- whether
it's heavy manual labor or office work.
Rule #4: Keep Up With Your Treatment and Appointments
Nothing is worse for your insurance claim than a statement in the records
reflecting that you are “non-compliant.” Sometimes after a
crash and brief treatment you may feel better and stop going for treatments.
It’s important that you keep the appointments that are scheduled
and discuss with your doctor if you are ready for the end of treatment.
On the other hand, if you don't get better and the pain or disability
lingers and you have not kept your appointments, the insurance company
will use this against you, and say your pain is your fault.
Rule #5: Keep Good Medical Records
If you're dealing with an insurance company, it will try to have you
sign a medical release and get your records. Do not sign it until you
have spoken with a lawyer. You should get those records first and look
at them. Often times the medical records don’t reflect what you
have reported to your doctor or are just plain wrong. You can correct
it before it goes to the insurance company.