Being attacked by a dog is a horrible experience and often leaves people feeling scared and confused. When you are injured as a result of such an attack, you should avoid making one of several common, but preventable, mistakes. Making these mistakes can make the difference between you recovering for your injuries or being mistreated by the insurance company. To learn more about your Iowa dog bite case, request your copy of our Iowa Dog Bite book.
1. Failing to Seek Immediate Medical AttentionThe victim is always responsible for proving that he or she was injured. Insurance companies and juries often believe that if you are not hurt badly enough to seek immediate medical attention, then you are not hurt badly enough to deserve compensation. Do not ignore signs of pain, even small ones. See a doctor as soon as possible, as minor injuries can always get worse. You do not want the first words that the insurance company lawyer says to the jury to be, "He did not even see a doctor for two weeks after being bitten."
2. Not Disclosing the Whole TruthA health care provider will usually ask if you had any injury or sickness before your current problem. Doctors use your past medical history to diagnose and treat you so it is important to be honest when answering these types of questions. Providing incomplete information can impact the quality of the medical care you receive. Concealing prior injury or sickness from your doctor will also hurt your legal case. Remember, all of your prior medical records will eventually be available to the insurance company and their lawyer. If you provide your doctors with incomplete information, their medical opinions could be rejected by the insurance company and jury because they did not know about your prior problems. The same advice goes for describing the accident. Tell the truth. Do not tell your doctor that the dog had to be hit with a stick before letting go if the dog bit you and let go. The insurance company's lawyer will attack your credibility with anything they can.
3. Failing to Get Your Pain Accurately Documented in Medical RecordsInsurance companies and juries will not believe that you are in pain just because you say so. They need to read about your pain in your medical records. When insurance companies and juries review your records, they will be looking to see how soon you reported pain after an injury, how long you continued to report the pain and how severe it was. One effective way to help make sure your specific pain and limitations do make their way into a busy doctor's chart is to write it out beforehand and give it to the doctor at your office visit. Do not exaggerate your pain. Doctors are extensively trained in looking for things that are not consistent and if you say your pain is horrible, but you are sitting comfortably on the examination table then there is likely to be a negative office note written in your medical records.
Pain scale- During your course of treatment it is likely that a doctor or physical therapist will ask you to rate your pain on a scale of "1" to "10" with "10" being highest. A "10" would be your worst imaginable pain, (e.g. pain in which you are constantly screaming, being tortured, being operated upon without anesthesia, etc.) Very few people have suffered pain more than a "7" or "8" during their lifetime. Please keep this in mind when answering questions about your pain level.
4. Missing or Showing up Late for Medical Appointments or TherapyAs mentioned, the insurance company, their lawyers and perhaps even a jury will get to see your medical records. When you skip a medical appointment, your record just says "DNS" meaning did not show or "No show". Excuses - no matter how valid - usually do not make it into the record. More than one or two "DNS" or "No show" entries could make it look like you were not committed to getting better. Skipping medical appointments or showing up late can also irritate your doctor. Irritated doctors do not make good witnesses for their patients. If you need to cancel, call well in advance and reschedule. You do not want the insurance company's lawyer saying, "It must not have hurt that much, he did not even show up for his appointments."
5. Failing to Inform Your Doctor if Your Injury is Affecting Your Ability to WorkInsurance companies and juries need proof that your injury affects your ability to work. If your injury is affecting your ability to work, it is important to tell this to your health care provider. Work problems caused by an injury may be treatable and they should be noted in your medical records. Again, bringing notes with you to use to make sure you tell the doctor everything you need to can be helpful.
6. Not Taking Medications as PrescribedThere is a reason why doctors prescribe a particular type of medication for a particular time period. You should follow your doctor's recommendation until your doctor tells you something different. If you think a medication is making your muscles ache or your stomach hurt, say so; side effects are common, and your doctor can usually switch you to another drug. Do not put yourself in the position where you have to admit that you chose not to follow your doctor's advice. This can be devastating to your claim.
7. Stopping Medical Treatment Too SoonInsurance companies and juries often believe if a person stops seeking medical treatment for an injury, the injury must be healed. They also believe that significant gaps between treatments suggest that you healed from one injury and must have suffered a new one unrelated to the first. If you have an injury that is affecting your ability to function, you should seek medical treatment until you are healed or until a doctor tells you that there is nothing more that can be done to improve your condition. If you are still suffering and your doctor tells you to "come back as needed" or "call me if you have any questions," you should ask how long you should wait to call if you continue to have pain and disability.
8. Talking With Your Doctor About Lawsuits or Legal AdviceA doctor's job is to focus on your medical condition. In order to do that job, a doctor does not have to know about your lawsuit or your attorney. Sharing your legal issues or concerns with a medical care provider is not necessary and should be avoided. Most doctors do not want to be involved in your legal matter anyway. If you tell a doctor he or she is treating an injury that is the subject of a lawsuit, it could impact the willingness to provide treatment or reach important conclusions. However, you must tell the doctor how you were injured, for example, I was bitten by a dog on May 11, 2016, etc. Also, if the doctor asks you if you have an attorney you must be honest with him/her. Remember that whatever you say in confidence to your doctor or other medical providers is not confidential when you bring a claim for personal injuries.
9. Failing to Follow Treatment Recommendations Related to Depression or AnxietyOften pain and/or disability can trigger depression and anxiety. Psychological conditions like depression and anxiety are just as real as broken bones. They cannot be overcome without appropriate treatment. A person who causes another person physical injury is also responsible for resulting psychological conditions. Insurance companies and juries usually only compensate victims of injury-related depression and anxiety if those conditions are properly diagnosed and treated by medical professionals.
10. Failing to Keep a FileIt is important that your attorney knows every medical care provider that you see after an injury. It is also important that you keep track of all doctor orders, treatment referrals and/or work excuses and restrictions. Keeping a file of all materials provided to you by health care providers and insurance companies will ensure that you can provide all the necessary information to your attorney at the appropriate time.
For more information about Iowa dog bites, including "6 Things to Know Before Talking to the Insurance Adjustor," "Forms" or "Hiring an Attorney" and much more, click on the dog bite book, go to www.IowaDogBiteBook.com or Call Now 1-800-707-2552, ext. 813 (24 Hour Message). Why offer a Free Book? Since 1997, Iowa personal injury attorney Corey Walker has represented hundreds of Iowans, including many bitten and attacked by dogs, from Pella, Des Moines, Newton, Oskaloosa, Ottumwa, Grinnell, Iowa City, Knoxville and from throughout the state of Iowa. He has seen too many clients make mistakes before they had the "right" information, resulting in them losing thousands of dollars.