November 24, 2017

Why Your First Doctor’s Appointment Following Your Accident is so Important

doctor visit after work accidentMost of us have seen police dramas on TV where the arresting officer tells the suspect that “anything you say can and will be used against you.” In your Georgia workers’ compensation claim not only do you have to worry about what you say, but you also have to worry about what you do not say.

In my practice, I often have to deal with the situation where my client does not discuss with his doctor all of the physical problems that arise from the accident.

  • Example: you fall from a ladder and land on your tailbone but you do not mention to the doctor that your neck is sore as well.
  • Example: you strain your lower back lifting a heavy box but fail to mention to the doctor that your wrist is swollen and sore and that your thumb is numb where the box fell on it

If you do not provide a complete list of your medical problems to the first doctor who sees you, later on you may find that the insurance company will refuse to authorize treatment for that omitted body part.

This results in a situation where later on in the case, for example, the insurance company notifies the doctor that they will pay for treatment of your lower back but not your neck, wrists or hands. You can find yourself meeting with a doctor who will literally refuse to treat you for the unapproved body part even if you are in extreme pain and likely to suffer permanent nerve injury if you do not get treatment.

You might think that if you are meeting with your doctor in an office appointment and you state that you are in severe pain and experiencing numbness and other symptoms that the doctor would help you. In a workers’ compensation context, however, the doctor might very well tell you that he is not approved to treat you and that you should leave and call 911.

Remember as well that doctors on the posted panel often are on that panel for a reason – they may get a large percentage of their business from the insurance company. As such panel doctors are not necessarily going to help you describe all of your symptoms and the panel doctor’s notes may minimize the nature and scope of your injuries.

If you find yourself in an emergency room, the attending physician will not have time to thoroughly review all of your symptoms – he will focus on life threatening problems and what you are complaining about most.

Insurance adjusters and attorneys will later use the doctor’s notes from this initial appointment to claim that your “other” body part was not injured in the work accident and thus treatment of that body part should not be covered.

So, what should you do?

Ideally, you should speak to an attorney like me prior to attending your first doctor’s visit. After representing injured workers for years and reading tens of thousands of pages of medical records, I know that some injuries do not create immediate symptoms. I can help you more clearly identify the medical problems that have likely arisen from your injury. Therefore, when you go to that first visit, your report of symptoms will be clearer and more comprehensive that it would otherwise.

If you have already attended that first visit, you may still have time to update your record with a more complete list of symptoms and improve your chances at getting all necessary and appropriate treatment throughout the course of your case.

Regardless of where you are in your case, you are likely to have questions and I invite you to call me at 770-351-0801.

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Jodi Ginsberg

Attorney Jodi Ginsberg represents employees who are injured on the job and who need medical care and missed wage benefits available under Georgia's workers' compensation laws.

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