When you suffer an injury due to someone else’s negligence, your initial focus should be to get well as quickly as you can. You should seek medical treatment as early as possible after your accident, and as often as is necessary, to get better.

If you decide to pursue a personal injury claim, the most important witness to prove your medical damages is your treating doctor. It is imperative to seek medical treatment from a qualified medical provider who is interested in your health and successful rehabilitation, and who is willing to advocate to the insurance company or a jury on your behalf that your injuries were caused by the traumatic event in question.

It is crucial to have open and honest communication with your doctor. Be prepared to:

  • Give a complete and thorough medical history
  • Explain how you got hurt in the traumatic event
  • Explain how you felt afterwards

Your doctor needs to know exactly how you were functioning both physically and emotionally before the traumatic event occurred. If you had some physical limitations or aches and pains prior to the event, be honest about them, but then compare for your doctor how the trauma changed you. Be very specific about what hurts, how it hurts, when it hurts, and if anything makes it better or worse.

If you are not improving with treatment, ask your doctor why not. Ask your doctor to be specific about what is wrong, what will be necessary to get you better, and how long it will take to get you feeling better.

Make sure your doctor and other medical providers (like physical therapists) are making detailed notes of your complaints and about your progress or lack of progress. Write down questions ahead of time so you don’t forget to ask something until after your appointment is over.

Here are some of the most important questions to ask your doctor:

1. What is the cause of your injuries?

Although this may seem obvious after you’ve been in an accident, it’s essential that the cause of your injuries be documented in your medical records. The details of how you were injured is called your history of injury and your medical records need to document in detail what happened in your accident and how you were injured.

2. What is your diagnosis (what is wrong with you) and what is your prognosis (will I get better and when will that be)?

Your diagnosis is a list of your injuries and medical conditions caused by your accident. Your prognosis is your doctor’s educated guess about the probable final outcome of your injuries and recovery. Your doctor may not have a good idea of your prognosis until your medical treatment is completed and you reach maximum medical improvement (as good as you are going to get). If your doctor is unable to answer these questions, you may need to see a specialist or seek a second opinion.

3. Will you need future medical treatment, and what will it cost?

The most important thing to focus on after your accident is recovering as fully as you can. Once your medical treatment is done, ask your doctor if you will likely need future medical treatment and how much it is likely to cost. The cost of future medical treatment is an element of damage you can recover in your personal injury claim, but your doctor must provide his or her opinion about the likelihood of future treatment including surgeries, physical therapy, medication, office visits, etc., and the anticipated cost.

4. Can you work? If not, when can you return to work? Will you be able to return to full duty?

You are entitled to recover lost wages if you are unable to return to work for a period of time because your injuries but your doctor must explain in the medical records how long you need to be off work to recover from your injuries. Once you return to work, if you are unable to return to your regular job duties, your doctor must outline any work restrictions, and if these work restrictions are temporary or permanent. If you are completely unable to return to your previous job duties because of your injuries, you may be entitled to damages equal to the reduction of your earning capacity but your doctor must explain why you are unable to do so.

5. Is it likely you will suffer with pain in the future because of your injuries?

You can recover damages for your physical and mental pain and suffering now and in the future caused by your injuries. Since pain is subjective, it is essential to detail your pain complaints to your doctor. Use examples of things you could physically do at work, home, and play before the trauma, and how you are now limited.

Explain the severity and duration of your pain, the types of activities you are no longer able to do or enjoy doing because of your pain, and whether you are taking pain medications. Do you suffer from depression or anxiety since your accident? Has your mood changed since the accident? Be as detailed as you can so your doctor has a clear picture of how your accident has impacted your life and is likely to impact it in the future.

6. Will you have a permanent injury or does your doctor expect you will make a full recovery?

If you and your doctor believe you have a permanent injury, the doctor needs to put that opinion in writing. Does your doctor recommend temporary or permanent physical limitations on your activities at work, home, or play? Do you have a measurable functional impairment?
Pisanchyn Law Firm’s Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help

If you have more questions about how to speak with your treating provider after an accident or injury caused by someone else’s negligence, contact our experienced Pennsylvania Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation at 1-800-444-5309. We have offices in Pittsburgh, Scranton, Philadelphia and Harrisburg and will travel to you.