Why Should Accident Victims Listen to Their Doctor? It Affects Their Claim.

Here's the short of it: the better patient you are, the better it looks to the insurance company and the more money your claim will be worth. 

What It Means to Be a Good Patient

All accident victims who want to pursue a claim are expected to be "good patients." If you were hurt in a car wreck, bit by a dog, fell at work, etc., you're expected to do everything your doctor tells you to do. You must attend all doctors' appointments. If you can't make an appointment, call ahead, tell them why and reschedule. Keep communication open. Don't skip taking your medication. Don't skimp on at-home physical therapy. And so on. 

What Happens If You Miss Doctor's Appointments? 

Aside from setting back the healing process, it devalues your claim. 

When a medical provider writes down a "no show" in your record, it looks very bad later on when the records are being reviewed by the insurance company (or the jury if your case goes to trial). 

I cringe every time I hear the insurance company talk about my clients being "no shows." The distinct implication is that my clients aren't as hurt as they say they are, otherwise they'd have bothered to show up for their doctor appointments. Those situations put me on the defensive, when instead I would rather keep the focus on my clients' injuries and the effects they've had on their lives.

What Happens If You Don't Follow Your Doctor's Advice? 

Again, it devalues your claim. 

For example, it's common for surgeons to tell surgery patients to stop smoking. Smoking delays the recovery process after a surgery and surgeons often order smokers to stop. So what happens if you ignore your doctor's advice and continue to smoke? The doctor usually notes that in your records. And what does the insurance company do with that tidbit? They use it against you. 

In Texas, you have a duty to mitigate (or lessen) your damages. By failing to follow your doctor's advice, it means you are not lessening your damages. Insurance agencies don't want to pay victims money if the victim isn't doing their part to heal. 

What Happens If You Delay Treatment? 

Being a "good patient" also means that you don't do anything to delay your treatment, as timely treatment will help you heal and recover faster. Doctors often leave it up to you to schedule certain appointments. You must not delay scheduling any diagnostic tests (such as MRIs) or physical therapy appointments. 

Large gaps in treatment give insurance companies one more thing to hold against you during the claims and litigation process. Once again, the system operates under an assumption that if you are hurt, you go to the doctor.  You can devalue your case by not being what juries and insurance companies consider "a good patient."

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