Evidence is one of the critical elements of any personal injury case. You and your attorney must present relevant evidence, including testimony and notes from experts such as doctors, physiotherapists, psychologists, forensic experts, and financial experts.
Pain is one of the issues most personal injury cases have to prove. It is much more than saying “my neck hurts” or “I’m depressed since the accident”— you have to prove to the jury how painful the pain you feel is. You can achieve this through medical examination and treatment, and notes of your diagnosis and progress.
Pacific Pain and Wellness in Torrance focuses on pain management and mental healthcare for patients with acute or chronic pain and mental health conditions, including those arising from accidents. We are also available for patients who need help with their personal injury cases. We will work with your attorney to provide well-organized medical evidence as required for your case.
Pain in Personal Injury Cases
Pain is an unquantifiable part of personal injury cases that presents difficulties proving. It is not about the victim wincing in court to show how painful their pain is. Proving pain involves getting medical and pain management experts to provide their expertise and experience handling the patient.
Some people who are injured in accidents might develop chronic pain, which requires long-term management. Careful assessment is usually the first step pain management experts take when you visit them. The assessment lets them pinpoint the source of the pain and determine a care plan that could work for you.
The care plan results will dictate whether the plan needs adjustment and the progress you are making in recovery.
Since pain is usually an unquantifiable variable in personal injury cases, the pain management expert will have you describe the pain you are feeling and use the examination results to create a report of your pain.
You will experience pain in different areas and to different extents depending on the type and severity of the injury you suffer. For example, head injuries are likely to cause headaches and migraines, while spinal and back injuries are likely to cause back pain.
Common Types of Injuries in Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury cases vary depending on the accident’s nature, the type, severity of the injuries, and the damage this accident causes.
Some people sustain severe injuries while others walk away unharmed. Others will suffer multiple injuries, lose their lives, and have to cope with pain and disability after the accident.
While each case is different, the most common types of injuries covered in personal injury cases include:
Traumatic brain injuries arise from traffic accidents, pedestrian crashes, falls, and sporting injuries. These brain injuries range from mild to severe, but their effects can be permanent. The common long-term complications of traumatic brain injuries include permanent brain damage, cognitive problems, migraines, and headaches.
Neck injuries are also common in most accidents, especially to occupants of the vehicle. The sudden jolt of the crash forces the neck and spine into unnatural positions leading to sprains and strains to the ligaments, muscles, and tendons of the neck. Neck injuries lead to acute to chronic pain, which requires extensive physical therapy and medication to manage the pain. You could also have problems engaging in some of the activities you enjoyed before the accident.
Spinal cord injuries can be devastating. The spinal cord plays a critical role in facilitating communication between the brain and every part of the body. When the communication is interrupted due to injuries to any part of the spinal cord, you might experience immobility, paralysis, and extreme pain. Depending on the severity of the injuries, you could experience these problems temporarily or permanently.
Amputations are common during and after accidents. You could lose your limbs or parts of your limbs during the accident and, in some cases, as a medical procedure to remove severely damaged and irreparable limbs. Treatment and recovery after an amputation can be devastating financially and psychologically. Most people will also experience phantom pain in the part where the limb used to be.
Traffic accidents could result in burn injuries whose severity varies depending on how extensive the damage is. First-degree burns are the least serious, while third and fourth-degree burns are debilitating, requiring extensive stays at the hospital, constant care, and a series of surgical procedures to correct and restore the victim. Third and fourth-degree burns leave the patient with extensive scars and pain, which they must live with. Such burns can affect the mental health of the victim in the long term.
One significant thing about post-accident injuries is that they cause you pain, which will vary in degree daily and based on your injury. The pain could lead you not to work and cause secondary complications such as mental health issues.
Another downside with these injuries is the high costs of medication and therapy to help you adjust to your post-accident life.
Injuries such as severe traumatic brain injuries, severe burns, and spinal cord injuries require significant time in the hospital, with patients spending several months in hospital and some more in recovery.
Even after the recovery period, some will need regular medications to deal with the injury’s complications. Others will need a complete reshuffle of their lives and living conditions to accommodate their new needs. For instance, people who suffer permanent spinal injuries require caregivers and significant adjustments in their homes to accommodate their unique needs.
Medical Treatment and its Role in Personal Injury Cases
Getting a medical evaluation is one of the most important things you can do after an accident. Whether you feel you are not injured does not matter.
Accidents tend to trigger a fight-flight response, and with the adrenaline high in your system, you cannot sufficiently determine that you are injured or the extent of injuries.
The force of an accident could cause external and internal injuries, which might not be apparent immediately. Some will require imaging tests to detect, and others require prompt treatment to save your life or prevent further injury.
Delays in getting medical treatments to offer insurance companies the leeway to claim that your injuries are not related to the accident; for instance, you could have broken your arm from your morning run or during a fall in your home.
Besides medical treatment (imaging tests, medications, and surgery), you should see a pain management therapist who will help you deal with the pain from your accident.
The point at which you engage a pain therapist will depend on the injury you sustained and the recovery you have made through conventional treatment. You will need a pain management therapist from the onset if you have injuries such as whiplash, strained ligaments, herniated discs, and spondylolisthesis.
The principle of getting medical treatment is to do it as soon as possible. For example, if whiplash was the only injury you suffered, seeing the doctor immediately is critical.
For injuries such as burns, the medical team will work on pain management alongside the treatment for burns. You can then work with a pain management specialist after you have sufficiently recovered from the injuries.
Do not allow the insurance company or the at-fault party the chance to dismiss your injuries as not being part of the accident.
However, do not pin pre-existing injuries or non-existent ones on the accident. Be truthful to your doctor about pre-existing conditions that were worsened by the injury. If you are caught lying, then the chances of losing the entire case multiplies.
How a Pain Management Clinic and Doctors Help in your Personal Injury Case
Doctors can make or break your personal injury case. They can break the case by failing to make the right diagnosis, failing to keep records, or giving the wrong medications for your conditions.
However, they can be the ace you need in your case. Doctors at pain management clinics can clearly explain medical details, elaborating medical terms, diagnosis, and the outlook for various conditions. They can help you quantify unquantifiable details such as the pain an absent limb causes, or the extent of a mental condition you developed due to an accident.
Here is how doctors help your case:
Doctors keep records associated with diagnosis and treatment and the medication you take to deal with the injuries. These records are critical in showing the link between these injuries and the accident. A doctor presenting your treatment records has more credibility than a medical expert who is typically paid to present their testimony in personal injury cases. However, even with the right records, you have to play your part and seek medical treatment immediately after an accident. Delayed treatment will leave you and your attorney with some difficulty in linking the injuries to the accident.
Your doctor will require follow-up treatment and rehabilitation, which are essential to your recovery and healing. The doctor will also instruct you on the care principles and medication you should follow. Ensure that you heed this advice; disobeying your doctor will create the impression that your injuries are not as severe as you claim them to be (or you were not injured in the first place).
When you visit a doctor, you must inform them that you are seeking treatment for accident-related injuries. This knowledge allows your doctor to create injuries that reflect the connection between your injuries and the accident.
Going to a physician for your injuries first gives credence to your injuries, unlike going directly to a chiropractor. However, you can still ask for recommendations from these specialists from your doctor. In this case, the physician’s reputation and recommendation for another specialist give your claim more credibility.
Personal injury attorneys will work closely with your doctor to ensure that they understand your treatment, diagnosis, and outlook. However, you will need to authorize the sharing of your medical records to avoid ethical issues.
Since doctors rely on tests to determine the injuries and their extent, their testimony and the records they create can provide sufficient evidence in court to support your claim.
However, you have to be aware of the common mistakes people make during treatment in relation to their legal case and medical treatment. These mistakes could cost your case or the cooperation of your doctor.
Failing to seek medical treatment immediately after the accident is a common mistake and one that could cost you the entire case. You could genuinely have injuries with a significant settlement, but your delays in getting medical treatment show the insurance company and the defendant’s side that you were not seriously injured. It is human nature to avoid hospitals and toughen up in the face of pain, but when the pain comes after an accident, go to the hospital immediately. Some people might not experience pain for the first few days after the accident. In this case, visit a doctor for an examination because you could be having internal injuries that you cannot detect. Your doctor will alert you about the symptoms you might develop in the next few days. You should be checked if any of these symptoms develop. Any time you or a loved one is involved in an accident, always follow this principle if you are still debating whether to go to the hospital: “if your injuries are not serious enough to get immediate medical care, they are not serious enough to deserve compensation”.
Failing to keep your medical appointments or disregarding your doctor’s instructions is closely related to failing to seek immediate medical care. It shows recklessness and a disregard for the injuries you claim to have suffered. If you do not take these injuries seriously enough or do not care enough about your recovery, the insurance company has no obligation to compensate you for them.
Most hospitals will request you to fill out a form detailing the accident and the symptoms of injuries you suffered from the accident. Most people make guesses and speculations in their form, which turn out wrong, leading the other party to question your credibility. Stick to the facts, you know. For example, do not estimate or speculate the speed of the vehicle that hit you. “I don’t know” is a safe answer that any unproven guess.
When seeking medical treatment, you must be honest with your doctor about your medical history. Let the doctor know of previous injuries or accidents you have had so that they can formulate a complete treatment plan. Apart from facilitating proper treatment, being honest about your pre-accident health history will safeguard your reputation and claim. When your doctor testifies that you did not disclose a past spinal injury, the jury, the insurance company, and the defendant’s side will believe your goal was to use the accident to recover compensation for pre-existing injuries.
Avoid discussing your legal case with your doctor. You will come across as being interested only in the money, not your recovery. Most doctors are also not comfortable being dragged through the court to testify on your behalf. Let your attorney handle any communication about your case with the doctor. Focus your energy on recovering.
Do not hide your pain from your doctor. Treatment procedures do not work the same way for everyone — you will respond to different therapies and medications uniquely, and if you experience pain or worsening symptoms, you need to inform your doctor immediately so that he or she can change the therapy or medication and record these symptoms on your records. Insurance companies and juries do not rely on your statements when settling cases; they want concrete proof, which are your medical records in this case.
Failing to cooperate with your doctor will lead to more trouble for your case. Asking questions about your diagnosis, treatment, progress, and outlook is okay, encouraged even, but do not second-guess your doctor. Having a strained relationship with your doctor could portray you as a problematic patient, which the insurance company wants. If the medication or treatment the doctor recommended fails to work as expected, schedule an appointment with the doctor instead of discontinuing the treatment.
Do not stop the medication, treatment, or rehabilitation until the doctor says you are healed, or medical treatment cannot help you beyond that point. The insurance company will assume that you are healed when you stop seeking treatment. Gaps in treatment will also suggest new, unrelated injuries.
You must keep records of all medical care providers you visit, their diagnosis, treatment, referrals, and restrictions. You must keep the information organized so that you can provide it to your attorney upon request. Poor record keeping will undermine your case.
Find a Pain Management Clinic Near Me
You will need documentation and well-kept records to support your personal injury case, especially if you want to address abstract concepts such as pain.
You will need your doctor, therapist, or pain management specialist to provide medical records that detail the source and extent of pain you are suffering, and the impact this pain has on your present and future.
Pacific Pain and Wellness focuses on managing pain and mental health conditions among our patients injured in traffic accidents. We will help you through the recovery period by developing an individual treatment and pain management plan to help you live the best life you can.
We will also provide you with the records you need to prove your pain in a personal injury case, and where necessary, provide expert testimony in court. Contact us at 310-437-7399 for a consultation if you are in Torrance, CA and south bay area.