You might not remember everything about what happened. You might even be tempted to hide how you are feeling, in case it impacts your insurance rates, or on the other side of the equation, hide any improvements in your health, in case it impacts the extent of your claim.
The only thing you can do in a situation where you are injured is to be honest with the people working with you to resolve your injuries and your claims.
Anything less than 100% honesty is going to hurt you in the long run.
Be Honest With Your Health Care Team
In the initial hours after a serious accident and injury, you might not be aware of the extent of your injuries, or even remember salient details of how you got to that state. Over time, you will recall more and you will feel more.
The only way your doctors and other healthcare practitioners can help you is if you are honest about how you’re feeling, every step of the way.
Even if you think what you have to report isn’t important. After all, our bodies work in mysterious ways and every detail matters when it comes to finding the path to feeling better.
I have often had a client say “but I didn’t think it was important at the time,” in regard to symptom that turned out to be very important after all.
Continue Being Honest For The Long Term
Dealing with negotiations of a personal injury claim can takes upwards of a year or two. In that time, your health status will change, and hopefully for the better.
Hiding those changes, or minimizing them, to your doctor(s) and your lawyer, out of fear that these improvements will negatively impact the outcome of your claim, is not the way to move forward.
For one thing, you’ll get caught.
Insurance companies are increasing their use of surveillance—both physical and digital—to monitor what claimants are doing. Unless you’re an MI6 calibre secret agent, you will give something away and lying about your status will make the outcome of your claim far worse.
For example, if you’ve said you can’t maintain your yard because of your injuries, but then on the ONE day you try to see if you can cut the grass, the insurance company takes video of your attempt, they might try to skew that information to show that you are able to return to certain activities.
If you report to your lawyer and doctor that you tried to garden on this date, but that you suffered that night and for days afterwards, having overextended yourself, your medical team can help you and your lawyer can better defend you.
Or what about if you claim that you can’t return to the tasks of your job but your Facebook feed (that you haven’t made private) has pictures of your dancing at your best friend’s wedding?
Your lawyer can argue for you, claiming that your occasional bouts of feeling better do not signal a full recovery, but they can only do this if you are 100% honest about your current status.
The same is true for your medical team. Whether it’s a physiotherapist or OT (occupational therapist), a psychologist or just your family doctor, you have to be open and honest with what’s going on with your current status.
They cannot prescribe the best treatments for you if you don’t. While you may want to see a positive outcome of your claim, this is not why you are living your life! The purpose of healing is to be healthy and mobile again, productive and happy, and it’s important to always remember this.
Forewarned Is Forearmed
This should be every personal injury lawyer’s motto.
It’s such a simple concept, but having the correct information at the right time can make all the difference in negotiating a personal injury settlement.
Sharing information with your lawyer that could negatively impact your claim is not easy.
You might be afraid or ashamed to be honest about having gotten drunk at a party, hence those few photos of you doing the lambada on your friend’s (public) Instagram.
But if you share this information with your lawyer ahead of time, they can get out in front of the issue, framing a cogent response to any queries, rather than being blindsided by the insurance company during negotiations.
Personal injury lawyers work on a contingency basis, so we’re not getting paid unless you do.
With that in mind, you have to look at your relationship with your lawyer as a partnership.
We are putting our name and reputation on the line by taking you on as a client and can’t represent you to the best of our abilities if you aren’t honest with us.
My advice to clients? Tell me everything, whether or not you think I need to know, stay true to the therapy plan that your doctor has set out for you and don’t do a lot of talking on social media.
With these three tips in your back pocket, you will be able to work through your claim and come to a resolution that will help you move on with your life.