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TO TREAT OR NOT TO (OVER)TREAT: THAT IS THE QUESTION

When attorneys representing defendants in personal injury cases argue that plaintiffs have obtained too much treatment, they refuse to fully compensate the plaintiff for the costs of that medical treatment. Quite as often, defense attorneys also argue that a plaintiff’s lack of treatment shows that they were not really injured, and refuse to fully compensate the plaintiff for the pain and suffering that was endured. So what is a prospective plaintiff to do?

The issue of how much and how frequently to treat can often play an important role in determining not just the value of a given personal injury case, but how much the plaintiff actually ends up with. Unfortunately, there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution to this very critical dilemma. There are, however, some general suggestions that might help an injured person decide what to do, although it is always best to discuss these and other ideas with your personal injury attorney:

  1. If you are in pain, or have other symptoms that are not resolving, see a medical professional about it. If you ignore your symptoms and do not consult with anyone or do anything about them, it may be hard to prove to a jury that those issues have not resolved.

  2. Follow your doctor’s orders, or those of your treating physician. If you are instructed to treat 3 times a week, it may be best to do so. If you are told to follow a home exercise program, do it. You don’t want to be labeled non-compliant by your doctor.

  3. If you are feeling better, or certain parts of you are recovered, inform your treating physician. Continuing to get therapy for your back when it already feels better may make it difficult to get compensation for therapy that you do not need.

The common theme amongst these suggestions is to rely upon the guidance of your treating physician, and we commonly suggest our clients discuss questions or concerns about their treatment with a medical professional. Even if your lawyer has referred you to a treating physician, perhaps on a lien basis, the decisions about your course of treatment should remain between the patient (the plaintiff) and the doctor.

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