Updated on: 11/12/2019
There are a number of steps that car accident victims must take in order to maximize their personal injury claim and ensure they get the best possible settlement for their injuries and other damages. Perhaps the most important of these steps is establishing a solid trail of medical evidence to support your injury claim.
In a personal injury case, your medical records serve as key pieces of evidence that may be used to support your claim and increase the chances of a favorable outcome. So while it may seem invasive to have your medical records be so closely scrutinized, they really are the foundation on which your entire personal injury case is built.
What Exactly Is Medical Evidence?
Physical evidence can key to the successful outcome of any legal case, whether it be in a criminal or a civil one. In the world of personal injury law, medical evidence comes in the form of the extensive medical records that have been generated by the doctors and other types of medical providers who provide you with medical treatment for the injuries you have suffered.
For instance, your very first medical visit following an accident would theoretically serve as the first piece of medical evidence for your case. In that first visit, your doctor should be able to determine exactly what injuries or other medical conditions you may be experiencing and, importantly, what caused them. This initial diagnosis of your injuries is key to building your case, and it is important that the diagnosis is done as close as possible to the original date of the accident.
Your Medical Records Can Tell A Story
Follow-up medical treatment with your doctor and visits to other recommended specialists, such as a neurologist or orthopedist, will provide additional context about the severity of your injuries, necessary treatment plans, and recovery progress throughout your journey.
Once you have reached maximum medical improvement and you are finished with medical treatment, the combination of medical records and other forms of documentation from all of the providers involved should provide a clear picture of the entire process of your medical treatment as it relates to the incident which caused your injuries.
How Medical Evidence Can Affect Your Case
Think of your medical records as leverage against the insurance company you are negotiating with; the more thorough and complete your records, the more leverage you have against them to receive a fair settlement offer. The less thorough and complete your records are, the less evidence you have to support your claim. Insurance companies generally are comfortable letting “weaker” cases proceed to trial, as a jury will be less likely to award you a fair verdict if they are not presented with strong medical evidence to support your case.
The comprehensiveness of your medical records – or lack thereof – can have a profound impact on your case in a number of ways. Insurance companies are motivated to settle claims for fair value when the plaintiff has a strong case with strong evidence to support the claim. Conversely, insurers will fight harder when they do not believe the claimant has a strong case to bring to trial and are less likely to feel pressured to settle those claims at a fair value.
For instance, an insurance company will feel more pressure to offer a higher settlement if your medical records are thorough and clearly document important issues like the causation of your injuries, your efforts to receive treatment immediately after the incident, and perfect attendance at all medical appointments. On the other hand, the insurance company will likely feel more comfortable allowing your case to proceed to trial if your medical records show you waited to receive treatment, had long gaps in-between care, and failed to follow-up with recommended specialists.
Request A Free Legal Consultation & Get Our Free Report
Attorney Chris Davis of Davis Law Group has authored a number of free downloadable PDF reports about the ins-and-outs of the necessary steps to take after being injured in an accident and corresponding with the insurance companies. You can download your free copy of our report, “The Importance Of Medical Evidence In Personal Injury Claims” right now to learn more about the process and how to protect yourself.
The award-winning Seattle personal injury lawyers at Davis Law Group are also here to help you better understand your legal rights and whether hiring an attorney for your personal injury case might be in your best interests. Call our office in Seattle at (206) 727-4000 or use the confidential contact form on this page to have your case personally reviewed by our legal team.
If we believe we can add value to your case and increase the chances of a favorable outcome, our lawyers will meet with you for a free legal consultation at your convenience.