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The Importance of Following Medical Advise in Personal Injury Cases

I often wax poetic about damages in civil litigation actions.  After all, getting damages is generally why we are involved in litigation in the first place.  The idea behind damages is to provide compensation for actual losses.

So, as a client, what does that mean for you?  Well, if you are looking for money, you have to prove that you’re entitled to it.  Being in a rear-end collision will provide for automatic liability against the person who hit you.  But, what if you walk away unscathed?  What if there is absolutely nothing wrong with you after the accident happens?  The simple answer is … nothing!  No pain – no gain!  They’ll fix your car and the other person’s insurance company gets to pick up the tab for your deductible.

But what if you get pretty banged up because you were stopped at the red light and the twit was travelling at 70 k/h when he hit you?  You go to the hospital.  They take x-rays, an MRI, do assessments.  You have a head injury from the airbag along with broken legs, broken ribs and a broken sternum from the seat belt.  You end up with internal bleeding because a lung gets punctured by one of your ribs. 

Not surprisingly, when lawyers review injuries in order to determine what damages, what compensation, might be appropriate, we have to base the opinion on your condition.  The only way to get that information is from your doctors.  We get medical reports from the hospital, from treating physicians, from specialists.  We will often send clients to our own experts for specialized reports in order to determine how bad things are and what the likelihood is that they will get better over time.

Most people will follow advice and go to the doctor for appointments.  Most people tend to be concerned about their own health and look for a way to alleviate or eliminate the pain they’re suffering from.  But … what happens if you don’t?

One of the most important things about getting damages is proving that the injuries are ongoing, continuous and will last forever.  But you, as the victim, have an absolute obligation to take positive steps to help yourself get better.  You MUST go to the doctor.  You MUST follow the doctor’s advice.  You MUST go for rehabilitation if that is the recommendation of your medical team and you MUST be able to show that you’re following instructions.  While everyone will miss the odd appointment or, perhaps, not do the workout they’ve been asked to do at home, that’s far different from simply not going to the doctor or refusing to go to therapy.  If you’re hurt, you have to try to fix it.  If you don’t, then, under the law, the insurance company really doesn’t have to pay for your continuing pain and suffering.

Sounds like the old saying “physician heal thyself” doesn’t it?  Well … yeah!  You can’t just sit back and suffer, silently or otherwise, and expect the insurance company to cut a cheque.  They won’t do that.  Insurance companies can, and do, reduce what they are willing to pay for injuries when the injured party refuses to take the necessary steps to fix their problem.  From the insurer’s perspective, if you don’t give a damn about yourself, why should we?

As lawyers, we try to impress on our clients how important it is to follow through and follow up.  We can only work with the information that we have.  If the medical records that we get show that there’s a two year gap between the last visit complaining about your injury and any attempt to do something about it, that will be reflected in any settlement or judgment.

In summary, while it might be interesting to hear your mother’s evidence about how you were active before the accident and have been a lump of coal since, it won’t get you anywhere.  The information from professionals is not only important, it’s absolutely essential.  The only way for us to get that information is if you follow advice and keep seeing the professionals that you need to see.

If you are looking to hire a lawyer , it is important that you hire someone you trust and can freely communicate with. At Langevin Morris Smith, we offers personalized service to help you through one of the most challenging periods of your life. Call us at 613-230-5787 today to schedule a free 30 minute consultation.

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