One of the most important elements of a successful personal injury case in New York is finding the right doctor to treat you. In many cases, it’s just as important as finding the right personal injury attorney.
Why is it such a big deal? A couple of different reasons.
First, you want the best possible medical care. That means finding someone who has a thorough and specific knowledge of your particular issue. Typically, you’ll need to seek out a specialist.
Secondly, the right doctor will be familiar with personal injury cases, and will know how to document your injuries accurately and appropriately for your case. Simply put, not all doctors are skilled at this part of the process.
Finding the right personal injury doctor can often be overwhelming, especially at a time when the thing you want to focus on the most is fully recovering from your injuries. However, it’s important to move fast to have the best possible chance at receiving the compensation you need and deserve.
What should you do?
Go to the Emergency Room First
If you are injured in an accident, go to the emergency room immediately – even if your injuries seem minor at the time. This is important because adrenaline often masks pain, so your injuries may be much worse than they seem.
Moreover, insurance companies and juries often adhere to the belief that if your injuries were not severe enough to require immediate medical treatment, you were not hurt badly enough to deserve compensation. This is certainly not the case, as many injuries are discovered hours, days, or even weeks later, but if you delay, you can expect the defense to question the validity of your injuries at every available opportunity.
Know What Doctors to Avoid in New York
Accident victims often attempt to seek follow-up care from primary care physicians, or from physicians recommended by legal referral services. Both types of doctors are a mistake, however, and can present significant pitfalls to your case.
Let’s talk a bit more about the problems each type of doctor can potentially present.
Your Primary Care Physician
You may have relied on your primary care physician for years, so it’s tempting to seek follow-up care from a trusted provider. However, there are some issues you need to know about.
First, many primary care physicians actually refuse to treat you if you are the victim of an accident. Why? It depends on the doctor. Some are reluctant to become involved in treating accident injuries because it is not their area of expertise. Others do not want to become embroiled in a potential lawsuit.
Even if your primary doctor will see you, though, you probably don’t want them to. As mentioned above, general practitioners are not experts at treating injuries. It’s quite possible that they could miss an issue or neglect to make a connection between a problem you’re having and the accident you just went through.
Also, primary care physicians may not be as detailed or thorough when documenting your visit. Inexperienced with accident injuries, they may not possess the specific knowledge to offer the in-depth explanations that are required to craft the solid argument needed for both insurers and the court.
Finally, using your primary care physician means that your entire medical chart will be used to determine the value of your claim. This provides the defense with an easy opportunity to argue that past minor ailments are responsible for your current symptoms rather than injuries suffered in the accident.
All that being said, you do want to contact your doctor’s office. Why? To ask for a referral. Tell them about your injuries, and ask for recommendations on which specialists to see. Additionally, ask for feedback on how to find an accident injury doctor.
Doctors from Legal Referral Services
The second type of doctor you want to avoid is one that works with a legal referral service. These doctors usually “specialize” in using up your insurance benefits rather than treating your injuries.
Even if you find a good one, it’s still typically wise to go with someone else. Due to the general bad reputation of “injury mill” doctors, it’s possible that you can actually decrease your case value because their findings may be more heavily scrutinized.
Finding the Right New York Doctor
So now you know what to avoid – but how do you find the right doctor?
Look for a Specialist That Treats Your Type of Injury
We mentioned above that you may need a specialist, but it goes beyond this. You want a specialist that treats your specific type of injury. That may seem obvious, but it’s still worth pointing out so you don’t waste your time.
Your primary care provider may be able to give you some recommendations, or you can conduct an online search to come up with a list of potential providers.
A specialist will provide the best care for your injury, conducting tests to fully determine the extent of your problem. For example, for a knee injury, an orthopedic surgeon will conduct imaging and range of motion tests. Beyond this, specialists also understand how to document your injury and its impact in detail.
Make Sure the Doctor Is Familiar with Personal Injury Cases
Before you go, ask if the doctor is familiar with personal injury cases. When you call to make your appointment, make it clear to the office that you will be filing a personal injury claim, and ask if the doctor has treated patients filing claims in the past.
This is important because in order for your case to be valued appropriately, your doctor will need to know how to accurately document your injuries.
Be Honest and Avoid Gaps in Treatment
When getting medical care, be honest about all pre-existing injuries and conditions. This helps your doctor to treat you appropriately. Further, if you are not honest, the defense may expose your dishonesty. This could potentially destroy your personal injury case – even if the injuries you’ve suffered are completely valid.
It is also important to seek treatment consistently until maximum medical improvement is reached. Consistency will help in treating your injuries in the most effective manner. Moreover, if you do not consistently seek treatment, it can bring the extent of your injuries into question. This could potentially undermine your entire claim.