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What To Do Before The Defense Medical Exam In Florida?

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Pursuant to Rule 1.360 of the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure, the defense may request you undergo an exam by a qualified expert. This permitted because your physical condition is at issue.

 The defense will make a request specifying the time, place, manner, conditions, and scope of the defense medical exam. Your attorney must respond to the defense’s request within 30 days. Sometimes attorneys object to certain conditions of the exam. If that happens the judge must decide.

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Rights and Responsibilities

Your most important responsibility is to show-up – on time. I always remind my clients the day before the Defense Medical Exam. I want to make sure they know the time and location. If you miss your appointment for a Defense Medical Exam the court could require you to reimburse the defense for the cost of the exam. This can be very expensive – so don’t miss the appointment.

Even though you are required to attend a Defense Medical Exam, you still have rights. First, you do not have to sign anything given to you by the defense doctor without your lawyer reviewing first. Second, you do not have to discuss the liability of the case or what you and your attorney have talked about. Third, you have a right to refuse to be injected, examined without a gown, and/or undergo diagnostic testing. Also, if you are a minor you have a right to be accompanied by a parent or guardian, at all times.

After the Defense Medical Exam you have a right to request a written report of the defense doctor. This report must include the doctor’s findings, diagnosis, and conclusions.  For a copy of my firm’s Notice of Client’s Rights and Responsibilities during a Defense Medical Exam form email me at mlongo@longofirm.com

Always Be Honest

Honesty is the most important thing to remember before a Defense Medical Exam. Exaggerating your symptoms or pain can hurt your case. Doctors are very good at uncovering an exaggeration by looking at the physiological evidence. They can compare your subjective complaints to your nerve pathways to see if they match up. If you’re complaining of pain radiating down your leg, you would expect a lumbar herniated disc. If you don’t – then the doctor will claim you are a liar.

Allow Your Lawyer To Speak To Your Family

As a personal injury attorney in Florida I like to speak to my client’s family and friends. Often times the spouse is more aware of things the client needs help with. This includes bathing, dressing, and eating. I always like to make sure these things are documented – sworn written statement.

Keep A Diary

Another thing that can help your case is to keep a diary. I usually suggest a daily log – morning and night – for at least 30 days. Your spouse should also keep a diary. A diary will tell your attorney things you would never know about you and how your family is suffering. A diary also forces those close to you to “pay attention” and “document” unusual behavior. Things like irritability, depression, lack of motivation, weight gain, etc.  If you’d like to see a copy of a diary template I use in my practice, email me at mlongo@longofirm.com.  

Client Questionnaire

On the day of the Defense Medical Exam, I give my clients a questionaire to take and complete immediately after the exam. The questionnaire asked questions about the exam. This is to be completed when the exam is still fresh in the clients mind. It can be helpful to your attorney while examining the defense doctor at deposition or trial.

Same-Day Appointment With Your Doctor

Another thing I always recommend is scheduling an appointment with your own doctor the same day as the Defense Medical Exam. Your own doctor will document your symptoms – things like muscle spasms and decreased range of motion. This will be documented the same day as the defense doctor said nothing was wrong with you.

More Information

For more information on what to do before or after a Defense Medical Exam check out some of our other personal injury articles on our firm’s website.  Also, you can subscribe to The Longo Firm YouTube channel for informative videos.

 
The Longo Firm, P.A.
Micah J. Longo
12555 Orange Drive, Ste. 233
Davie, FL 33330
Tel: (954) 862-3608
Fax: (954) 944-1916
 

8 Ways To Prove Fault In Intersection Car Accident

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Prove Fault Intersection Car AccidentProving fault in an intersection car accident in Florida can be difficult. Intersection car accident cases involve left-hand turns, signal lights, and yielding traffic. Intersection car accident cases almost always pose liability questions. This is especially true if both vehicles were moving.

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There are several reasons why intersection car accident cases are difficult. The other driver usually denies fault when being interviewed by the police or their insurance company. The police sometimes make liability decisions without a formal investigation. The laws on intersections, signals, and yielding to other traffic can be complex. Also, insurance adjusters are trained to find some element of comparative fault, to reduce the settlement.

1.    Get Police Report

So, what are some things you can do to prove you’re not at fault in an intersection car accident case? First, you want to get a copy of the police report.  You may be able to get a copy online at BuyCrash or LexisNexisWhile the police report generally cannot be used as evidence in Florida courts, it can help with proving fault. You’ll want to look for admissions made by the other driver. Also, you’ll want to see what the other driver’s speed was listed on the police report and compare it to the posted speed limit. If the other driver was speeding, you can argue this was a contributing factor.

2.    Contact Witnesses

Second, you’ll want to see if the police report listed any independent witnesses. Unfortunately, most witnesses who saw the crash are usually in their car and continue on their way. They don’t stop to give their names to the police, unless it was a major collision. If there is an independent witness listed you (or your attorney) should contact them to get a statement. This should be done as soon as possible. Witness memories tend to fade over time. The longer you wait the less likely they’ll remember specific details. In intersection car accident cases the devil is in the details.

3.    Take Pictures of Property Damage

Third, you’ll want to document the property damage to your car and the other driver’s car. More often than not the location of the property damage can provide valuable incite into the specific details of the crash. Also, if it’s a major crash an accident reconstructionalist can use those photographs to recreate the crash at trial. This is a very persuasive method of proving fault in intersection car accident cases.

4.    Research Florida Statutes

Fourth, you should read the Florida statutes on motor vehicles which applies to the accident. If the other driver violated a state statute he there may be a rebuttal presumption he or she is at-fault. We call this negligence per se. If the case proceeds to trial the statute will be read to the jury.

5.    Revisit Accident Scene

Fifth, it’s important to re-visit the accident scene. As a car accident lawyer I make sure I do this in all my cases. By visiting the accident scene I can visualize how the accident actually happened. You’d be surprised how taking a look at the intersection again can influence your persective. I also invite the insurance adjuster or defense attorney to come with me. This simple exercise has had profound effects on proving fault in intersection car accident cases.

6.    Road Signs and Traffic Lights

Sixth, take pictures of all road signs, traffic lights, or any other road signs near the intersection. For example, a speed limit sign in a school zone would be important. Especially, if you believe the other driver was speeding. If the other driver stated he was going 35 mph which is the normal speed limit, but it was 15 mph at the time of the crash, you now have an argument.

7.    Weather and Traffic Conditions

Seventh, determine the exact weather conditions at the time of the crash. This may be listed on the police report. Also, a simple search for the weather condition history would provide this information. You’ll want to know if weather played a factor in the crash. Was it raining, was it foggy, etc? If the other driver was driving the speed limit they still might have been going too fast for conditions. Also, you’ll want to determine what the traffic conditions were like at the time of the crash. Did the accident happen during rush hour? This information can be extracted from the police report. Look at the time of the accident. Is this a time of heavy traffic?

8.    Mechanical Defects

Eighth, try to determine if a mechanical defect is cited as a possible cause of the intersection car accident. Sometimes, the police report will state that the driver attempted to put on their brakes but they weren’t able to stop. This might mean that the other driver’s brakes were bad which contributed to the crash.

These are just a few of the things that can help you prove fault in an intersection car accident case in Florida. If your case depends on your word against the other drivers’, without any objective witnesses, you should expect an uphill battle. Because of this I always recommend you hire a qualified car accident attorney.

For More Information

For more information visit my Car Accident Articles on our website and watch some of our Personal Injury Videos on YouTube.

The Longo Firm
12555 Orange Drive, Ste. 233
Davie, FL 33330
Tel:  (954) 862-3608

Phases of Medical Treatment After An Accident In Florida

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Phases of Medical Treatment In FloridaImmediately following an accident I always recommend that you seek immediate medical treatment at the Emergency Room. This is the first phase of your medical treatment. Even if you don’t feel pain right of way it’s always best for your body and your piece of mind to be x-rayed and examined by an emergency room doctor.

Initial Visit

After you’ve been released from the emergency room you’ll be instructed to follow-up with a specialist. This is the second phase of your treatment.
 
I recommend that accident victims follow-up with a medical doctor, rather than a chiropractor. You want to see a medical doctor who has experience in personal injury cases. I recommend avoiding primary care physicians because they have been known to sand-bag cases. This is likely becasue of inexperience and/or wanting to avoid the hastle of personal injury litigation. Also, you want to make sure your treating physician is board-certified.

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During your initial visit you’ll spend time filing out lots of paperwork. You’ll be asked questions about your medical history, the accident, and your injuries. Be sure to be 100% truthful when completing initial intake forms. What you write and say could be used against you in Court. You don’t want to deny a prior accident, when you’ve had several in the past. Be sure if you aren’t truthful the defense will find out! Credibility is the most important thing in any accident case.
 
When you finally meet the doctor during your initial visit, expect a full and complete examination. The doctor may order x-rays. If so, he or she will discuss the findings and prescribed a treatment plan. Almost all treatment plans involve a normal course of physical therapy.

Physical Therapy

The third phase of treatment is a normal course of physical therapy. Some doctor offer in-house physial therapy while others will refer you to a chiropractor or other facility. Physical therapy usually consists of 4 to 12 weeks of treatment, depending on your injuries. If you’ve been treating longer than 12 weeks, you should find out why. You’ll want to be careful becasue some doctors, will continue to treat you until all your insurance benefits are exhausted. This could be a red-flag for the insurance company signaling that your treatment was not reasonable, necessary, or related.
 
In the beginning you may be prescribed daily physical therapy, followed by a gradual tapering down to 1-2 times per week. Again, everyone is different, so your own personal physical therapy needs may be different.
 
Treatment during the physical therapy phase usually involves 3 to 4 modes of treatment. The most common modalities for soft tissue injuries are electrical stimulation, hot/cold packs, ultrasound, and chiropractic adjustments.

MRI Scans

The third phase is the MRI scan phase. After an accident your pain might not immediately go away. Often it may get worse. When this happens your treating physician will refer you for an MRI to determine the exact nature of your injuries. A common injury after an accident is a bulging or herniated disc. These painful disc injuries can only be seen on an MRI scan.
 
The sooner you have an MRI after the accident the better. That way it’s less likely the defense can argue that the objective findings on the MRI scan were caused by something else. For example, if you wait 6-months to have an MRI scan, the injuries shown on the films could have been from anything. It’s less likely something other than the accident caused your herniated discs if taken within 30 days of the accident.

Surgical Evaluation

If the MRI reveals a disc injury, especially common in car accident and slip and fall cases, you will be referred to an orthopedic surgeon or a neurosurgeon for work-up and evaluation. This is the fourth stage of medical treatment. If you’re already treating with an orthopedic surgeon, then you’re ahead of the game.
 
An orthopedic surgeon would examine you and your diagnostic tests to determine if you’re a surgical candidate. Usually before surgery you may be referred to a pain management specialist for a series of epidural steriod injections.
 
Epidural steroid injections are given in a series of 2 to 4 injections, usually 30 days apart. Injections can be diagnostic as well as therapeutic. They can give an injured person partial to complete short term relief, and also can be used to tell the complete extent of the disc injury, including its exact location.
 
If you don’t get relief form epidural steroid injections your most likely option is the dreded “surgery.” Most people who are recommended for surgery never follow though. Keep in mind that the insurance company usually won’t pay you as if you’re going to have the surgery, unless you follow through. In other words, it’s not good enough to submit a medical record from an orthopedic surgeon recommending you have surgery. You must actually have the surgery.

Final Evaluation

The final phase is the final evaluation Once you’ve reached maximum medical improvement your treating physician will schedule a final evalation. After the final evaluation the doctor will write a final report. This is the most important medical record in your case. The final report will summarize your treatment, show that you’ve reached maximum medical improvment, and in most cases state you have a permanent injury caused by the accident.
 
The final piece of the puzzle is the heralded impairment rating. This rating is a percentage rating based on the AMA guidelines. For example, your doctor may state you have a 10% whole person impairment. Without a doctor stating your have a permanent injury, you’re not entitled to damages for your pain and suffering in Florida; only your past medical expenses. This only applies in car accident cases; you do not have to prove permanancy in any other injury cases (i.e. slip and fall, products liability, etc.) So, the final evaluation and impairment rating are critical to your accident case.
By:  Micah J. Longo, Managing Attorney, The Longo Firm P.A. (Davie, FL)
Tel:  (954) 862-3608

What Doctor Do I See After An Accident In Florida?

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What Doctor Do I See After An Accident In FloridaI recommend you see a medical doctor after an accident in Florida.  You’ll want to see a doctor who graduated from medical school. This can be an ER doctor, orthopedist, neurologist, or primary care physician. Receiving immediate emergency is critical.

Some people like going to chiropractors. Not that there is anything wrong with chiropractors, but there are some drawbacks. First, insurance companies do not value the claims the same as they do when a medical doctor is on the file. There is a presumption that chiropractors inflate their bills and prolong treatment.

I think chiropractors have tremendous value when they work together with medical doctors.  Medical doctor evaluates the patient then prescribes physical therapy with a chiropractor. I recommend the medical doctor overseeing the treatment plan.

When building a personal injury case you must prepare for the possibility of a jury trial. Jurors tend to believe medical doctors more than they do chiropractors. They add credibility to the case.  Having a medical doctor on board usually means a higher settlement or jury award.

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How To Find A Doctor

The easiest way to find a doctor is call a personal injury attorney. Personal injury attorneys work with medical doctors on a regular basis.  Most have a working directory of medical doctors they can recommend.

You can find a doctor after an accident in Florida online. Google can be an excellent resource for finding medical doctors. There are also specific medical directories that may be helpful in your search. Also, if you have health insurance you can search for an approved provider.

If you look for a doctor on your own you’ll want to make sure they have experience in treating accident injuries. Not all doctors do. Some are better at writing medical records that will help your case. Also, some doctors don’t want be bothered with accident cases. They may not want to disrupt their practice to give depositions or testify at trial.

How Doctors Bills Are Paid

In Florida, car accident bills are covered by your personal injury protection (“PIP”) benefits.  Depending upon your deductible, PIP will pay up to $10,000 of your doctors bills. Any medical bills not paid by PIP are paid by the person who caused the accident. For example, if you have $25,000 in bills and PIP paid $10,000, the at-fault party would pay the remaining $15,000.

In slip and fall cases all of your medical bills are paid by the responsible party at the end of the case.  Doctors who treat slip and fall patients usually require a “letter of protection” signed by a personal injury attorney.  This means the doctor treats the patient without advanced payment and the attorney agrees to protect the doctors bill. In other words, the doctor will get paid at the end of the case from the settlement.

Your health insurance may cover some of your medical bills after an accident. Usually, an emergency room bill or ambulance bill is paid by health insurance. Because the at-fault party is primarily responsible for your medical bills and your health insurance is secondary, if your health insurance paid benefits they may be entitled to a reimbursement if you recover money from the at-fault party. This is called a “right of subrogation.” The Florida law requiring reimbursement was designed to prevent plaintiffs from double recovering.  If you believe your health insurance company or other collateral source may have paid some of your medical bills after an accident, you should immediately contact a personal injury attorney because there may be a lien.

In conclusion, I recommend you treat with a medical doctor first, then receive physical therapy from a chiropractor.  The best way to find a doctor after an accident in Florida is to call a personal injury attorney for a referral.  Your medical bills will likely be paid by your PIP in a car accident or by the at-fault party at the end of the case.

For more information about accident cases, finding the right doctor after an accident, or paying medical bills please visit our website.  Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Channel!

The Longo Firm
Micah J. Longo
12555 Orange Drive, Ste. 233
Davie, FL 33330
Tel: (954) 862-3608
Fax: (954) 944-1916
mlongo@longofirm.com

What Should I Tell My Doctor About My Accident In Florida?

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What Should I Tell My Doctor About My Accident In FloridaYou should tell your doctor everything about your accident in Florida.  This sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people under-report injuries and pain because of fear of being labeled a “complainer.”  If you do not make ALL your complaints known to your doctor, they will not be documented  in your medical records.  If it’s not in your medical records, it didn’t happen. This mistake could hurt your case and cost you money. Be 100% candid and tell you doctor everything after an accident in Florida.

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Speak In Broad Terms

When speaking to your doctor be sure to give a broad overview of how you feel. After a few weeks you should start to get better.  This doesn’t mean you’ll be pain free.  You may have a good day, followed by a bad day.  If this is the case, let your doctor know that you feel good today, but yesterday was a killer.  By giving a broad overview of how you feel your doctor will be in a better position to document your true condition.  Remember, your medical records is how accident attorneys prove injuries. You’ll want ALL of your injuries to be included in your medical records.

In Florida, in order to collect money damages from a car accident claim you’ll need to prove you’ve suffered a “permanent injury.”  If you are 100% better, you don’t have a permanent injury. By under-reporting your injuries and not making your complaints known you run the risk of your doctor finding you haven’t suffered a permanent injury.  This mistake could cost you money when it comes time to negotiate a settlement. Now, this isn’t to say that you should “make up” injuries, or say something hurts worse than it does. You don’t want to come across as a “malinger.”

Report Accident Injuries To All Doctors

If you treat with other doctors for things other than your accident injuries be sure to let them know you were involved in an accident.  For example, if you hurt your back and neck in a car accident and you’re treating with an orthopedist, let your primary care physician know you were hurt in an accident, even if your primary care physician is treating you for something else. This is important because the defense will request medical records from ALL your doctors, not just the ones treating you for the accident.  If you don’t inform ALL your doctors of the accident, they will not document it in your history.  When the defense reviews those records, if there is no mention of your accident, they will argue your accident couldn’t have been that bad because you didn’t mention it to your primary care physician. Again, be 100% candid with all your doctors and tell them everything after an accident.

Credibility Is Everything

You can bet the defense will spend hours accumulating your past medical history searching for evidence to use against you.  It could be a pre-existing condition, drug usage, or any personal information to undermine your credibility.  In ALL accident cases, your credibility is the MOST important part of the case.  If your medical records are inconsistent because you didn’t make your complaints known to ALL doctors you will be viewed as not being truthful.  If you are not viewed as truthful, it doesn’t matter what the evidence shows, a jury will not find for you!  A jury has to believe that they are helping a worthy plaintiff.

Bad facts against a plaintiff who is not credible gives the jury an excuse to find against the plaintiff.  Bad facts against a credible plaintiff can expose the defendant’s bad conduct and drive the jury’s decision when rendering a verdict.  Again, not to beat a dead horse (but it’s important), be 100% candid and tell your doctors everything after an accident in Florida.

For More Information

For more information on accident injuries please visit our website at The Longo Firm and please don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube Chanel.

 

The Longo Firm, P.A.
Micah J. Longo
12555 Orange Drive, Ste. 233
Davie, FL 33330
Tel: (954) 862-3608
mlongo@longofirm.com

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