Five Rules For Dealing With Your Doctor After a Car Crash

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.