Consistent & Appropriate Treatment Are Key To A Successful Case

You must treat consistently and appropriately if you want full compensation in any personal injury case.
 
  1. Inconsistent treatment means big gaps in treatment and/or failing to follow your doctor’s recommendations.
  2. Inappropriate treatment means continuing to do something that obviously hasn’t resolved your pain and discomfort despite repeated attempts. When one type of treatment doesn’t work then you must try a different kind of medical provider or technique. You can’t do the same thing forever and expect a different result.
 
Inconsistent and inappropriate treatment can kill cases.
 
Let’s look at three cases that are typical of what I see as a personal injury lawyer:
 
Client A gets into a crash and doesn’t get treatment for two months. He then goes to his family doctor who recommends an MRI. Client A finally gets the MRI a year later. Client A then goes to an orthopedic doctor who recommends a three-level cervical fusion. A cervical fusion is a highly invasive surgical procedure that requires replacing a damaged cervical disc with a cadaver bone and metallic hardware. It will cost him about $300K and he will likely be paralyzed if he doesn’t get it. He doesn’t get the surgery because he’s too busy. His out-of-pocket expenses consist of $200 in co-pays.
 
Client B gets into a crash and goes to a chiropractor. She treats a few times a week off and on for three months, stops treatment, and then returns to treating off and on again with the chiropractor. She discovers after nine months of treatment that she has cervical herniations. She doesn’t treat anymore but complains of continuing pain over a year later. She then consults with an orthopedic doctor who recommends a two-level cervical fusion that will cost her about $200K. Client B has the cervical surgery and is out of work and in a neck brace for three months. She lost three months of pay because she didn’t have FMLA or disability insurance. Her total out-of-pocket expenses are $250,000.
 
Client C gets into a crash, treats about 24 times with a chiropractor, and when her symptoms don’t resolve, has an MRI, which reveals the same type of cervical herniation as Client A & B. Client C goes to see an orthopedic doctor. The orthopedic doctor recommends Client C try injections and refers her to a pain management doctor. Client C has a series of facet and epidural injections, and her symptoms decrease. A few months later, those symptoms return, so she schedules a follow-up visit with her orthopedic doctor. The orthopedic doctor recommends a single level micro-discectomy, which is a minimally invasive technique to remove the impinging disc material and release pressure on the nerve. It does not require a cadaver graft or hardware, and it is often done on an outpatient basis. Client C has the surgery and returns to work the next day. Client C returns to her orthopedic doctor once every few months due to her activities aggravating her injury, but her orthopedic doctor doesn’t believe she requires a cervical fusion, although he thinks physical therapy might help her, so she does that. She still has some pain on occasion, but overall, she feels much better. The surgery cost about $50K. She has no lost wages. Her out-of-pocket expenses are only $50K.
 
Pop quiz time:
 
  1. Which case is easier to sell to a jury?
  2. Which case is a lawyer more likely file a lawsuit on?
  3. Which client is a lawyer likely to drop?
Here is how I view these cases:
  • While Client C has the least invasive surgery and arguably the lesser injury, her case is probably the most valuable and the best litigation case.
  • Client A has a very low value case and most personal injury attorneys would drop it unless there are very low policy limits. An insurance adjuster would likely make a very low starting offer.
  • Client B is an okay case, but it will probably settle pre-suit, and Client B will not be pleased with the result.

Treat consistently and appropriately if you want the full value of your case.

Making Clients’ Lives Easier

The most common complaint clients make to the Florida Bar about attorneys is a lack of communication about what’s going on in their cases.

Clients are sometimes anxious about their cases. The process is new to them and lawyer advertising doesn’t do a good job of explaining how the legal system works.

Lawyers should call their clients once a month to give them updates. Sometimes clients want information NOW though. I get that. I’ve been there myself. It’s stressful.

My way of helping clients deal with that stress is to use a Cloud-based case management system called MyCase.

MyCase allows my clients to see and read every document I send to an insurance company, adjuster, or the other side’s attorney.

My clients can also see and read every motion I file with the court and every motion the other side files.

All my clients need to do if they want to know what’s going on with their cases is sign onto MyCase. They can even download documents if they want copies for themselves.

My clients can also message me 24/7 using MyCase’s encrypted messaging tool.

Want to know your next court date? When you must respond to discovery requests? It’s all in MyCase’s Calendar section.

Most “traditional” law firms use PC-based case management systems like Client Profiles, Prevail, and others. I don’t like those systems. You need a real computer and Internet connection to use them and clients don’t get access to those systems. They also tend to be bloated with features most people don’t use.

That causes a lot of needless phone calls and questions. I believe in making things simple for my clients.

My clients and I can access MyCase from our cellphones if we want. I’ve sent clients documents and responded to their messages from the Bahamas. MyCase allows me to work on a client’s case from anywhere that has a cellular connection.

Sometimes all clients want is a little knowledge to make them feel better. I’ve used other software systems at other law firms, and no case management system has made my clients happier than MyCase.

–Chris