When you’ve been in an accident, one of the first things you need to do is see a personal injury doctor.  This isn’t like when you cut your finger when slicing onions – you shouldn’t just put slap on a band-aid and hope you’ll get better.  When you’re in an accident, whether it was in a car, on a motorcycle, or if you slipped and fell and it wasn’t your fault, you need to see a doctor quickly and get it checked out. It could affect your future health, and also your legal case. Every case is, of course, unique. We aim to give the best possible advice, but if you have any questions, it’s best to consult the relevant professional.

Here are some reasons why you need to see a personal injury doctor, and sharpish.

Medical Records

Evidence. It’s vital for any lawyer in their legal case, and necessary for you as the victim.  Your medical records provide you with the needed evidence that you suffered as a result of an accident.  Make sure the best you can that your medical records are thorough and complete. Your doctor needs to include a comprehensive list of all your injuries, and the treatment you needed to get better.  You also want it on record that you went for treatment right away after your accident, and followed the recovery guidelines for your specific case.  A personal injury doctor knows exactly the documentation you require for your case, which gives you the confidence you’ll need at this difficult time.

Won’t an ER Doctor Do?

No. Doctors in the ER are excellent at their job, which is treating immediate pain and injuries, but their care is just that – immediate, not ongoing.  If you’re experiencing acute pain or have an injury as an immediate result of your accident, it’s definitely a good idea to head to the ER. They’ll get you checked out, help you understand the injuries you have, and rule out ones you may be worried about.  For ongoing care, though, you should then go see a qualified physician. A doctor can prescribe you ongoing treatment to help you recover from your injuries. This can be your own primary care physician or another MD.

If you do see your own family doctor, ask to open a new file for your injury claim. This means when your medical records are requested, your old sinus infections and the tonsilitis you had when you were 12 won’t come up.  A personal injury doctor has experience in knowing what exactly to look for in your injuries, the right questions to ask to add to your evidence, and the documents you need for your legal case.

What About a Doctor Who’s Not a Physician?

Testimonies from these practitioners (think chiropractors, osteopaths or physical therapists) are not as credible as from a personal injury doctor, who is a qualified physician.  Your doctor can treat and coordinate your entire medical case, and liaise with other professionals on your aftercare.  We’re not saying you shouldn’t see non-physicians. If you feel these therapies would aid your recovery, ask your doctor to refer you as part of your rehabilitation treatment.

Use Your Own Doctor, Not Your Lawyer’s

Injury lawyers, especially big factory-style firms, can offer for one of their doctors to give evidence on your behalf in court. There’s a problem with this strategy.  These doctors are not intimately aware of your case, so when cross-examined, often crumble under the pressure. Their testimonies often don’t stand up to scrutiny.  If your own, reputable, doctor speaks about your medical treatment, he’ll be able to stand up to scrutiny when cross-examined by the defense.  It’s also good to remember that, in case your medical records aren’t complete, your personal injury lawyer can get the missing details from your treating doctor, who can accurately discuss your case. Your lawyer’s doctor wouldn’t be able to do this.

When Should You See Your Personal Injury Doctor?

Straight away. Really, the sooner you see your doctor, the better.  Generally, the advice is to wait a maximum of 3 days to begin an injury claim after a car accident.  Think how it might look to a jury if you wait for some time after the accident to go get medical assistance or, even worse, to wait until your lawyer advises it.  It’s much better to see your doctor as soon as possible after your accident. Your claim will certainly appear more genuine, and the jury will be able to easily join the accident and injury together in their minds.  Take too long to get help from your personal injury doctor, and the defense might make out that you were being treated for an old, unrelated injury instead

If you don’t have enough evidence, your lawyer might use a medical expert. The problem is that in court, qualified doctors are seen in a better light. The court may view a medical expert as someone being paid for a testimony in your favor, and that won’t look good.

Follow Your Treatment Plan

Your personal injury doctor will likely give you a rehabilitation program, or instructions for your recovery after your accident. You need to follow these instructions carefully.  According to Harvard Medical School, over a million Americans suffer from whiplash each year. It can take weeks or even months to recover from whiplash though, and for many, the effects can last indefinitely.  For the best treatment results and to avoid chronic pain in the future, you need to follow your doctor’s instructions to the letter. If you don’t, it may appear to the jury that you’re not as injured as you claim, and your injury could take much longer to heal.

The Bottom Line

Accidents are an unpleasant business, but they can become physically and emotionally agonizing when you lack the necessary medical evidence to make your case.  Avoid the headache of piecing together your evidence after the event by seeing a personal injury doctor. Your doctor will take the guesswork out of the situation. Let them help you heal, and get you the medical evidence you’ll need.

Found the article informative? Why not check out our post on what to expect from the best car accident doctors.

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