3 Tips: Court Closures and Delays in Life Care Planning
Recovery from a serious illness or injury doesn’t always go as planned. We deal with unforeseen delays and setbacks. Ironically, these are also the complications that make a life care plan so valuable in the first place. One issue we are seeing far more often in 2020 and beyond, however, is court closures and delays. You are already dealing with a painful injury. A life care plan may be completed or is in progress—but your medical care and medical/legal case may not moving forward as fast as you would like it to. As a life care planner who has worked with hundreds of injured plaintiffs and many defense cases, below are 3 tips that can be utilized as you wait for your day in the courtroom. Life care planning and the work we do should reflect a patient with an active role in their recovery. Let’s also arm you with a clear understanding of how you can assist in your recovery.
Tip #1: Do Not Stop Treatment
This is extremely important: do not abandon your pursuit of care and rehabilitation. Maintain a clear understanding of what to do today, next week, and next month. A large gap in treatment can be detrimental to your recovery and can be confusing for a jury! They may not understand why a person with a permanent and chronic injury is not seeking care. This could very well work against you.
It’s true: It’s not uncommon for the chronically injured to “burn out” at some point in recovery or not see significant improvements at times. A doctor or physical therapist may have said, “You’ve made great progress and you can see me now as needed!” This is sometimes interpreted as an indication to stop, or that the patient is somehow healed or as good as they will get. Don’t be misled; this just means it is time to push forward on your own behalf. Perhaps a new modality is needed. Cutting-edge technologies must be researched. Figure out what is best for you by educating yourself about your diagnosis. Informed consumers have the most clarity and can make the best decisions for themselves. What do you need right now? Do not quit.
Tip #2: Stay in Touch with Your Doctors
It is also vital to keep in touch with any treating physicians and specialists you have seen. Never go longer than six months or a year without some kind of check-in, even via telehealth, during a worldwide pandemic. Do everything you can to facilitate your recovery and assist with your impairments. Cutting off these experts is the equivalent of putting your head into the sand — we want you moving forward proactively. If a doctor or a therapist says they no longer know what they can do for you, consider finding others with different approaches.
Note: These days it is tough to get an in-person visit. Treating physicians are using telehealth both to save time and to protect themselves from COVID-19. This creates a big risk of miscommunication or poor communication. So, to protect yourself, type things out. Review symptoms and concerns with a checklist so that nothing is forgotten or left unaddressed.
Tip #3: Review and Maintain Records
Finally, a patient needs to feel a certain level of protectiveness for their medical records. Why? We find errors in medical records all the time—it can even lead to a mistrial! If you’ve never seen your medical records, ask your doctors or attorney for a copy immediately. This is your life and your medical and medical/legal case, and opposing counsel will look for discrepancies and errors. Use this time to understand what happened to you and what your options are.
As your treatments move forward, maintain your OWN records. Keep a diary. Take notes after every appointment. Make sure these accurately reflect what you are experiencing, your subjective complaints, and your restrictions and limitations. Include examples. Eventually, these will form a timeline. When you need to speak about your injuries, you will have a clear understanding of what has occurred. At BiFulco Medical Group we have created a spiral-bound patient journal for this purpose. Call us today for a copy.
Don’t Let Court Closures Slow You Down
This is the bottom line: you as an injured individual are entirely capable of becoming your own best advocate. Empower yourself in every way possible as you await your court date. Eventually, your case will reach the courtroom or will settle out of court, or you will go to mediation or arbitration and come to a conclusion and resolution for all parties involved. Until then, stay strong and informed. You can read more in my blog post about a life care planner’s work in the courtroom. Contact us with any questions!