While it’s one of my primary areas of practice, I try to stay away from writing about personal injury law topics. After all, there are already several other local lawyers who regularly write about car crash/ICBC claims.
But, earlier this week, I met with another lawyer and helped her out on one of her personal injury files. The advice that I provided was important and got me thinking, “Everyone should know this!”
So, this week, I am going to write about personal injury law and will provide you with TWO BIG TIPS that everybody (who is involved in a car crash) should know:
- You need to aggressively pursue medical treatment; and
- You need to preserve the evidence.
When you retain a lawyer to handle your car crash/ICBC claim, the lawyer will take care of most everything in the lawsuit. But, the lawyer can’t do everything for you…you must do two things yourself.
To begin, YOU need to AGGRESSIVELY PURSUE MEDICAL TREATMENT.
But, what does that mean? Well, it means that you must be proactive in ‘getting better’.
If you’re injured in a car crash, you need to go to your doctor and tell him/her that you’ve been injured. Then, if your doctor gives you advice, you MUST follow that advice (to the extent that it doesn’t hurt you, of course).
Then, after you follow that advice, you should go back to your doctor and provide him/her with an update and then follow any additional advice that he/she may give.
You must also follow the advice of your other medical practitioners, too. This is very, very important.
Here’s an example: Your family doctor, Dr. Smith, tells you that you need to see a chiropractor for injuries that you sustained after a recent car crash. You then attend a chiropractor, Dr. Jones, and the treatment is helping you. You continue to see Dr. Jones as often as he suggests. Maybe a few months later, you go back to Dr. Smith and provide an update on the progression of your injuries. In the update, Dr. Smith suggests massage therapy. You must then engage in massage therapy. And, you should not stop chiropractic care until clearing it with Dr. Jones.
Basically, you must do everything your medical practitioners tell you to do.
There are reasons for pursuing medical treatment like this…
First, you have a legal duty to ensure that your losses (i.e. your physical injuries) are as small as possible. In the legal world, this is called “mitigating your losses”. In a personal injury/car crash claim, this includes following ALL medical treatment.
The second (and more important) reason for ensuring that you follow (and follow up with) medical advice is because it will hopefully make you better, allowing your injuries to completely resolve!
Next, you need to PRESERVE THE EVIDENCE.
In a car crash claim, this may include taking photographs of the vehicles or taking photographs of your injuries. So, if you have cuts or bruises, you should take pictures of that.
But, most injuries in car crash claims are invisible – i.e. they are soft tissue injuries. So, how do you preserve or document those injuries? Well, you create a journal.
In that journal, you should record how your injuries have affected you (i.e. how you’re feeling every day or week). In your journal, you’ll want to write about whether or not you have difficulty sleeping, watching a movie, or wakeboarding. You’ll also want to describe what areas of your body are most affected when you perform these activities. It’s easy stuff, but it’s time consuming… and very, very important.
And why is it so important?
Well, consider this: do you remember what you had for dinner on April 3, 2013? Probably not, right? So, without recording in a journal, how would you remember your neck or back pain months ago? Answer: you wouldn’t.
But, why do you even need to accurately remember how your injuries have affected you?
Well, here’s the answer: if you’re injured in a car crash, you are entitled to money to compensate you for your losses. And, how much money you receive is proportionate to how much you’ve lost or, in other words, how much your injuries have negatively affected your life. So, if your life has been significantly affected, you are entitled to more money.
So, if you can’t completely recall how your injuries have affected your life (when asked years later by a judge or an ICBC lawyer), then you won’t receive all the money that you are entitled to. It’s that easy.
Now, having said all this, here is the most important piece of advice: be careful when driving…
No matter how much money you may get from a lawsuit, it will never compensate you for the loss of your health.
**The information contained in this column should not be treated by readers as legal advice and should not be relied on without detailed legal counsel being sought.
Column originally posted on Castanet.net on June 18, 2013: ICBC advice you need to know.