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The Importance of Medical Documentation in a Personal Injury Claim in Florida

Personal Injury

One of the most important aspects of any personal claim is establishing the extent of your damages. Proving your damages is crucial due to the fact that, contrary to what some believe, a jury does not simply pull a number out of thin air when awarding money to a Plaintiff. Instead, the jurors will consider medical expenses, lost wages, and other factors when deciding on an award. This article will discuss the importance of medical documentation as a component of this process.

Medical Documentation Assists With Assigning a Value to the Plaintiff’s Injuries

How Damages Are Calculated in a Personal Injury Case

A jury will consider past and future lost wages, past and future medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering when it is determining the amount of damages to award a Plaintiff. In regards to the medical component of this equation, the amount for past medical expenses is straightforward. It simply involves tallying all issued bills. An award of future medical expenses will include money to pay for needed surgeries, rehabilitation, other medical appointments, medication, reimbursement for travel and time expended on attending appointments, etc. The determination of these future amounts will often require testimony from an expert witness.

Medical Documentation Helps to Prove a Victim’s Pain and Suffering

The type of medical documentation used in a personal injury case goes beyond bills and statements which list an amount to be paid. Such documentation also includes doctor notes, hospital records, and more. These types of detailed records, which document what all a patient went through, can help to give the jury a feel for the amount of pain, suffering, and inconvenience the Plaintiff has endured. When deciding the amount which a Plaintiff will receive for the distress they have suffered, a methodical presentation of medical records can be vital.

A Victim’s Records Will Be Sent to the Insurance Carrier as Part of a Settlement Demand

Many personal injury cases settle without the filing of a lawsuit. The first step in reaching a settlement is to send a demand for payment to the insurance adjuster. This is typically done once a victim’s long-term prognosis is reasonably ascertainable. The demand for payment will state the amount which the victim is requesting, how that amount was calculated, and it will include documentation supporting the request. Among this documentation will be medical records and billing statements.

Medical Documentation Can Show That a Plaintiff’s Injuries Were, in Fact, Caused by the Accident

It is common in personal injury cases for the defense to claim that a victim’s injuries were not caused by the subject accident. Such claims typically hinge on an argument that a) the victim’s injuries were pre-existing, or b) that the injury occurred during some other event which happened after the subject’s accident. Proper medical records can be used to dispel such claims. 

Proving That Your Injury Was Not Pre-Existing

The medical evidence which can be provided at a trial goes beyond the records relating to the accident itself. Records of prior checkups and doctor visits can be used to show that the injury did not exist before the subject accident. It is easy for your attorney to obtain these records. Counsel will simply have you sign a HIPPA release and your records will then be obtained from the provider. Your physician may be subpoenaed to testify in regard to the fact that the injury did not exist pre-accident.

Proving That Your Injury Did Not Result From Some Other Event

Defendants will sometimes claim that your injury was sustained due to some other event which occurred after the accident. This practice is especially common in instances where a victim does not immediately go to the hospital after an accident. By seeking immediate medical care, and providing documentation of it, you can eliminate any claim that the injury was not caused by the accident. Also, documentation of all medical appointments you have had, from the accident to now, can show that you did not go to the hospital for some other injury in the meantime.

It goes without saying that if you are seriously injured then you will likely be taken to the hospital by an ambulance. Even if you believe you are fine, it is important that you do not decline the care. Also, it is important that you immediately go to the doctor even in less serious cases where an ambulance is not necessary. Even if you believe that you are suffering no effects from the accident, some symptoms may take time to materialize. By going to the hospital immediately, you begin the process of documenting the severity of your injuries.

Medical Documentation Will Go Beyond Billing Statements

As explained above, medical documentation can show what you have had to endure as part of the treatment process. If you have been put through surgery, for example, then notes from the procedure will specifically state what was removed, what was repaired, the number of stitches used, etc. This can give a jury context when they are considering your request for damages.

Consider the following example: Joe is involved in a car accident and sustains severe damage to his knee. Joe has to have his meniscus partially removed, a ligament replaced, and has fifteen stitches put in his knee as a result of surgery. At trial, Joe will show the scar to the jury. Seeing records, and having the doctor testify in regard to the documentation, can help the jury understand what Joe has been through and the amount of pain he has endured.

Call a Florida Personal Injury Attorney

If you or a family member have been injured due to the negligence of another then it is important that you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. You only have a limited amount of time in which you may file your claim. If you fail to meet your statute of limitations then you will be barred from recovery. Our office is devoted to protecting the rights of victims over those of insurance companies. We take pride in the level of service which we offer and we look forward to speaking with you. You may reach us by telephone at 800-780-8607 or you may contact us online to speak with a Florida personal injury attorney.

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