When you are involved in a personal injury claim, you put your past medical history into issue. It is imperative that you provide accurate information about your past medical history to those healthcare professionals who evaluate and treat you post-accident. Your past medical history is a crucial piece of evidence that will be used to determine the extent of your injuries from an accident and the value of your claim.
Providing an inaccurate medical history can have several adverse effects on your claim. Be aware, that this is not an exhaustive list.
For one, if you provide misleading information or attempt to minimize your medical history, doctors may not be able to properly diagnose and treat you.
Additionally, inaccuracies in medical history can also call into question your credibility. If you provide what is believed to be false or misleading information, the opposing party may question the validity of your injuries and use this as a reason to deny the claim or offer a lower settlement.
Furthermore, inaccuracies in your past medical history can have serious consequences during a trial or examination for discovery. For example, during an examination for discovery, the opposing party's lawyer will ask you about your medical history and the injuries you sustained in the accident. The opposing lawyer will have access to your pre-accident medical records and will likely refer to complaints or medical conditions before the accident since it could be directly relevant to your claims in the action. The opposing lawyer will seek to use any inconsistencies or inaccuracies in your answers to cast doubt on the validity of your claim. They may argue that if you are not being truthful about your medical history and injuries, then you cannot be trusted to accurately describe the details of the accident or the extent of their injuries.
Similarly, during a trial, the opposing party's lawyer may use inaccuracies in your evidence about your medical history and injuries to argue that you are not credible and that your injuries may not be as severe as you claim. The goal will be to discredit you and your testimony, thereby calling into question validity of the claim.
I cannot stress enough the importance of accuracy in one’s past medical history. In my experience, there are a number of reasons why inaccurate pre-accident medical evidence is provided:
- The injured party believes that their pre-accident medical history is “private” and is not subject to production or consideration in a personal injury claim.
- The injured party is not aware that their pre-accident medical history is relevant, especially if their pre-accident medical condition could be directly relevant to the action.
- The injured party is not aware that their medical records will have to be produced and will be reviewed by an insurer or an opposing lawyer, who will compare what they say about their pre-accident history following an accident to the records of complaints made pre-accident.
- The injured party has not been provided with their pre-accident medical records before a preparation for an examination for discovery and is not prepared for questions related to inaccuracies.