If you say that something is “just what the doctor ordered,” you are probably having a good time. It’s an expression we use to say that we like what we are doing because it is making us feel good, which is sort of funny. After all, following the doctor’s orders is not always easy.
One of the things the Stein & Shulman team always stresses to our Chicago area clients is how important it is that they do exactly what the doctor orders, even if it is not pleasant. Carefully following a treatment plan can make a huge difference in how much compensation you are eligible for following an accident.
America Has a Medical Adherence Problem
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Americans have a bit of a problem following doctors’ orders. The CDC found that “one in four Medicare participants age 65 or older—that’s 5 million people—do not take their blood pressure medicine as directed. In fact, 20 to 30 percent of prescriptions for chronic health conditions are never filled, and about half are not taken as prescribed…”
The technical term for this is medical adherence, and it is a “common and costly problem with potentially dire consequences. A 2012 study in American College of Preventive Medicine found that nonadherence accounted for an estimated 125,000 deaths annually and at least 10 percent of hospitalizations. The repercussions also cost the U.S. health system as much as $300 billion a year…”
As personal injury attorneys, we have seen the individual cost of the failure to follow doctors’ orders. Some of our Chicago area clients have ruined their chance to seek compensation for the injuries they suffered in an accident because they didn’t listen to what the doctor told them to do.
Following The Doctors’ Orders Is Critical If You Plan on Seeking Compensation
Our legal system is designed to fairly compensate accident victims for the harm caused by others. To do so, the person who is injured must provide evidence that but for the actions of the defendant, no injury would have occurred.
The defendant can push back by arguing they are not the ones at fault, or that the injured party bears at least some responsibility. This is incredibly common in Illinois, which is a comparative negligence state. Under our state law, the amount of compensation an injured person is eligible for depends on his or her actions in addition to those of the defendant.
If, for example, the injured person is found to be 20 percent to blame for the accident, his or her compensation can be reduced by 20 percent. So, if he or she suffered $100,000 in damages, it will be reduced by 20% to $80,000.
Failing to seek medical treatment and ignoring the doctors’ orders are both decisions that can make an injury worse than it would otherwise have been. Defendants will often comb through medical records and hire medical experts that say the injured party is partially to blame for the shape they are in because they did not get proper medical treatment. It can be very hard to push back against these claims when the medical records show the injured party wasn’t taking their medicine, doing their prescribed physical therapy, or keeping follow-up appointments.
Anyone who has been injured in an accident should take care of themselves and do exactly what the doctor tells them to do. If you have questions about this topic or are concerned that you have already messed up your ability to seek compensation, let’s talk. Contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation.