The 'Missed Appointment' Trap

Under North Carolina law, the injury victim has a legal duty to mitigate damages. To collect full payment for medical expenses and all other injury claims, you must show that you acted with reasonable care to heal as quickly as possible and to avoid unnecessary expenses or suffering. It is vitally important that you follow all of your doctor’s instructions and recommended limitations. Further, it is essential that you attend all recommended medical appointments.

Insurance adjusters are typically friendly immediately after an accident, and they are usually helpful on property damage claims. They will also ask for a medical authorization allowing them access to your personal medical records with every physician. They are not using this authorization to help you build evidence or find reasons to pay more money. To the contrary, they will not help you gather medical records or bills relating to the accident. Instead, they will use the authorization to review your past medical history and private medical information from outside physicians who are not involved in accident-related medical care. You should not allow access to your personal and private medical information.

When insurance adjusters review your claim to place a price on your case, they cherry-pick all of the records and look only for reasons to question all medical claims. A primary focus is missed medical appointments. If your physicians recommend clinical therapy and you reject this or if you miss a number of scheduled appointments, the adjuster will use this evidence to contend that you failed to follow medical advice and that you caused your own suffering. Even though busy schedules may prevent attending all medical appointments, insurance adjusters ignore these practicalities. They will argue that if you truly needed medical care, you would certainly attend all scheduled appointments.

To ensure a thorough recovery and to protect your health and legal rights, you should carefully follow all doctors’ advice and attend all scheduled appointments. Whenever possible, take prescribed medication as advised. Also, you should carefully follow physicians’ limiting instructions, including lifting restrictions and work-duty restrictions. Careful adherence to medical advice will give you the best chance of a full recovery. Also, your compliance will be evident in your medical records and will support a more generous settlement offer or trial verdict.

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