RESOURCE

The Most Important Information to Tell Your Patients Facing Personal Injury Lawsuits

February 10, 2020
Nital S. Gosai
B.A. Hons, L.L.B., Founding Partner

As you help your patients recover from an accident physically and mentally, you can do even more to support their healing. Some may already have questions about personal injury lawsuits, and others may not have thought of contacting an attorney yet.

By directing your patients to legal information, you can help ease the financial burden of their injury so they can focus on their medical recovery.

Nobody Should Do This Alone

Trauma victims may work directly with their insurance company to report information and receive payment. However, insurance companies are for-profit and it is in their interest to minimize claims settlements, and to not direct customers to benefits they may be entitled to. For example, policy beneficiaries may be entitled to non-medical benefits such as personal support and homemaking services.

Working with an attorney tends to yield better results. With our experience in navigating the complexities of insurance, personal injury lawyers know which benefits a client is entitled to.

Legal counsel can assert your patient’s rights and ensure they receive all available benefits to help in their recovery and become economically whole again.

Lawyers Are Not All The Same

Personal injury lawyers specialize in working with insurance companies, doctors, and the legal system. They are able to navigate medical and legal jargon to match clients with the correct benefits.

It is important for trauma victims to not only find the expert best suited to their case but to also form a strong relationship with their attorney. Legal counsel is there to support clients during this stressful time.

Encourage honesty

Accident victims often try to be strong for their families by downplaying their pain and anxiety.  Encourage them to be honest with themselves, and with you, about the effects of their trauma.  This includes talking about the injury’s impact on their loved ones, extended family, friends, and coworkers. The effects of personal injury are known to strain relationships.

Some patients may avoid mentioning previous injuries, afraid it will hurt their claim. This can cast doubt on your diagnosis when the information becomes known. When in fact, previous injuries can strengthen a claim when the accident aggravates an existing condition.

It is important to discover and document all injuries as soon as possible, no matter how minor. As medical professionals know, injuries can worsen over time. If you document pain long after the accident, it can be more difficult for legal counsel to link the damage to the accident.

Not only does honesty ensure that patients get the medical help they need, it helps their case as you document all the physical and psychological consequences of the accident.

Help Your Patient Find Answers

Patients often have questions such as how much insurance pays for an injury, and whether they have a suitable injury for a lawsuit. You may not be able to answer these questions directly, but you can refer your patient to an attorney.

The answers to these questions vary from case to case, but a personal injury lawyer uses their experience with similar cases to help determine how much insurance should pay for an injury. They leverage your diagnosis and medical notes to compare a litigant’s situation to similar cases, so any information you provide helps legal counsel answer this question.

An attorney can help set realistic expectations about a lawsuit, including letting the client know that they are unlikely to get a million dollars for their sprained ankle!

Even if you and your patient are unsure of whether an injury is suitable for a lawsuit, it never hurts to ask. Most personal injury lawyers offer a free consultation limiting the risk for the claimant.

Even if the client is at fault for the accident, they may still be entitled to benefits, but they will never know until they seek expert legal help.

How Long Will Recovery Take?

As you help patients understand how long it will take to recover from their trauma, they may also have questions about how long their financial recovery will take. Although there is no definite answer to how long a personal injury case takes, in Ontario, about 90 percent of cases settle without going to trial.

This means your patient may achieve their financial recovery sooner than they thought, but they need to seek an attorney for help.

Urge Patients to Follow all Treatment Advice

As a medical practitioner, you already urge your patients to attend all appointments, take their prescribed medications, and follow other treatment advice. A lawsuit adds incentive.

If litigants do not show up to medical appointments and follow treatment plans, the defence can argue that they are not really injured that badly. Encourage patients to talk to you if they have a problem with their medication, exercise, or other treatment you have prescribed.

The Defence Can View Medical Files

Medical professionals play a huge role in the outcome of personal injury lawsuits as they provide the facts that will help both sides. As a result, records that are normally guarded as confidential – are accessible to the insurance company defending the lawsuit.

If your patient sends a letter asking you to correct information on their file, or mentions legal tactics to their psychologist, for example, insurers can view and use this information to attack the case. Remind patients any communications they send to you and anything they discuss may be used against them in court.

How Long Does a Patient Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?

As your patient recovers from their accident, speaking to a lawyer may not be on their mind, but it is important to do so as soon as possible. Accident victims usually have two years to file a claim, although this may be longer for children or those with impaired physical or mental capacity.

Despite this, there may be other limits, such as giving a municipality notice within ten days after an accident. Personal injury lawyers know the statutes of limitations and how to navigate insurance. Allowing them plenty of time gives legal counsel a chance to gather evidence and prepare a case. Delaying gives the insurance company a longer head start.

Talking to a Lawyer Makes a Huge Difference

Consulting an attorney helps your patients get the financial help they need to focus on their recovery. They may not realize that most personal injury lawyers offer free consultations and work on a contingency, taking a percentage of the award only if the case is successful. This means accident victims have little risk and plenty to gain by seeking an attorney’s advice.

A lawyer also allows the accident victim to focus on their physical and mental healing with you, rather than the legal and financial implications of their injury. If you have a patient who has experienced an accident, contact a law firm like Gosai Law, or browse our content library for more information to help answer their questions.

 

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