Coronavirus is disrupting everyday life across the United States and the globe. Unfortunately, this includes the coronavirus effect on personal injury claims, particularly regarding medical care for the victims of car accidents and work accidents.
Many doctors are canceling in-office appointments, transitioning to video conferences, virtual visits and “e-medicine.” Some hospitals are prohibiting visitors due to an effort to contain the virus, and because they are simply running out of space. Right now, personal injury victims have questions about the coronavirus’ effect on personal injury claims and doctor visits, and are wondering how to handle the situation to ensure owed benefits are received. A few questions we’ve received include: Should I keep my scheduled appointments? What about physical therapy? What if I have a cough or a fever?
Here are some quick rules of thumb to help you deal with medical care in the middle of your personal injury claim:
- 24 hours before every scheduled appointment, call the healthcare provider.
- Make sure the appointment has not been cancelled.
- If the appointment has been cancelled, schedule a new appointment as soon as possible.
- Ask your doctor about phone meetings or video conferencing. If they give you this option, take it.
- While it’s not the ideal way to practice medicine, it allows the doctor to review your care plan, make recommendations, and call in your prescriptions while you both remain safe and contained.
- In personal injury claims, consistent medical care is critical. Gaps in care can dramatically reduce settlement value. A video or telephone meeting with your doctor prevents that gap.
- If your physical therapy is cancelled, ask your therapist if they will help you document a “home exercise program.”
- Most medical offices are putting rules in place for patients with a cough or fever. Unfortunately, these rules are not the same for each health care facility.
- If you show signs of illness, talk to your doctor’s staff about how to handle your appointment.
- If the doctor’s office cancels your appointment, politely ask them to document that you called in sick, and that they cancelled your appointment. That way, you won’t be listed as a “no show.”
- If your health care provider has an online “Patient Portal”, create a log-in and use it. This will allow you to access your medical documents quickly and e-mail the doctor regarding care.
- Remember: What you write to your doctor is medical evidence. It is not private or privileged in litigation. If you have a personal injury attorney, work with them to craft communications that help your case rather than hurt your case.
- Practice voluntary “quarantine” and “hygiene.”
- Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer immediately before and after your medical appointment.
- Take a shower when you get home, and change clothes.
- Put the dirty clothes directly into the wash.
- Be kind to and patient with all health care providers, even if you are frustrated. Personal injury doctors have supreme power to help your case, or destroy it, depending upon what they write in their reports. You want the doctor on your side, and good manners are critical, even in times of crisis. Be nice, but persistent.
- A good personal injury attorney has relationships with local doctors and can help you get the care you need. If your medical care is going nowhere, it’s time to call a personal injury lawyer.
Even during the current pandemic, do not just skip appointments with no attempt at communication. Juries want to see that you take your personal injury seriously! They believe that if you are legitimately hurt, you will put in the effort to get medical care, even in the middle of the coronavirus epidemic. The common-sense tips above will help you to coordinate with your doctor and get better legal results during this time of crisis.
If you’re attempting to seek medical care for a personal injury claim and are encountering roadblocks due to the coronavirus effect on personal injury claims, give the Morrison & Hughes experienced personal injury attorneys a call at (404) 382-7439.