Shepherding The Client In A Personal Injury And Accident Case: Steps Of Guidance From The Start Of The Battle To The End

by Aaron Gartlan

May 7, 2015 | Client Deposition Preparation

Medical Treatment

First, your personal injury lawyer and accident lawyer’s law firm should talk with you about your injuries and make certain that you take the advice of the medical professionals. We are not in the business of giving medical advice or practicing medicine. However, over the years, we have learned how important it is that you receive the right treatment. We call it “shepherding the medical treatment.” Basically what that means is, as early as possible in your personal injury or accident case, we are going to do our best to become actively involved in your medical treatment. We are going to be following up with you on a routine basis regarding your treatment, diagnosis, and prognosis, and if necessary and appropriate, guide you to other treatment providers. This is in your best interest – both medically and legally – especially in personal injury and accident cases where there are severe and permanent injuries.

Under Alabama law, personal injuries correlate and equal damages which have to be demonstrated and proven. We have had personal injury and accident cases over the years where clients did not follow up with their treatment and it hurt their health and the value of their personal injury and accident case.

Years ago, we had a personal injury and accident client that had a leg injury. We reviewed her medical records and the treatment that she received up to that point and helped her understand why she had been referred to a physical therapy clinic. We instructed her to start the physical therapy and to keep us posted. Not long after that, we scheduled her for a follow-up meeting after being unable to reach her. We met with her in the office and learned that she had not been going to her physical therapy. After our meeting, she realized the importance of this therapy, both medically and legally. This gives the insurance company the opportunity to argue that this treatment was not necessary or related or to say the personal injury victim was not hurting or not that severely injured. While we were still able to reach a settlement in the case, even a small gap in treatment gives Goliath the potential defense that something else may have caused or contributed to your personal injury or that you were not really hurt.

We want to take as active of a role as possible in the treatment related to your personal injury case. We have had clients over the years in personal injury cases with neck and back injuries that followed up with their treatment and their care and they continued to have problems. In those personal injury and accident cases, we helped them to make contact with the right neurosurgeon and chiropractor for evaluation and treatment. If they had not followed up and gotten that care immediately, it would have cost them money and hurt their ability to heal and recover. It is also a good practice to have a group of medical providers – from neurosurgeons, neurologists, psychiatrists, and counselors to chiropractors, orthopedists, and massage therapists – that can help you in these circumstances. Often times, just like in any other medical situation, it makes sense to go out and get a second opinion with the help of a specialist.

We once represented a young man who was treated at the emergency room twice because of a head-on collision. When he came to see us, it was apparent that something was wrong, so we had him evaluated by a psychiatrist and neuropsychologist that revealed through extensive and ongoing testing that there was a serious head injury that occurred in the automobile wreck. As a result, the car wreck case settled for the available insurance policy limits. This demonstrates the importance of receiving the proper medical treatment and being represented by an experienced Alabama personal injury lawyer.

There are many great doctors in this area. However, an emergency room doctor, an orthopedic doctor, or a general practice family doctor may not be in a position to diagnose and treat all conditions associated with a personal injury or accident. Once some doctors find out it is a potential personal injury accident type case which may result in litigation and depositions, they may not go above and beyond to help, especially in dealing with the insurance company and in litigation.


Aaron Gartlan is a graduate of Troy University and the Thomas Goode Jones School of Law who focuses his practice exclusively on representing those injured by the wrongdoing of others. He is member of the National Trial Lawyers Association’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers, Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. In addition to his legal practice, Aaron teaches Business Law as an adjunct instructor at Troy University’s Sorrell College of Business and serves as a field artillery sergeant in the Alabama National Guard.

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