How should I deal with my doctor if I have a Defense Base Act injury?
You didn't sign up for this. No one does. You've been thrust into this whole "Defense Base Act world." No one chooses this. But yet, here you are. If you've suffered a serious injury, your economic future may depend on the result of your Defense Base Act (DBA) case.
At the end of the day, you're going to need medical evidence if you're going to win your DBA case. There are two benefits under the DBA - medical treatment and weekly disability payments. You may be able to settle your DBA case with a lump-sum settlement.
In this article, I answer your questions about how you should deal with your doctor if you have a Defense Base Act claim. I these questions and more:
“No B.S. No lawyer talk. Just straight forward unsweetened truth.”
Defense Base Act Lawyer - Bill Turley
Author of the 5 Star book - Win Your Defense Base Act Case
Why is it important to start with the end, first?
At the end of the day, you're going to have a trial, assuming you're unable to settle your case with a lump-sum settlement. But either way, you're going to get the best result - either by settling or winning your trial - by having the best, persuasive evidence.
On the flip side, the DBA insurance company is trying to poke holes in your case. With regards to your doctor, they will do this on medical diagnosis and the medical history level. And, in addition, the most common way that the DBA insurance company will try and poke holes in your case is by attacking your credibility and character. How you deal with your doctor can be fertile territory for your being impeached. I'm sure you don't like this, but it's the way it is.
So you need to approach how you deal with your doctor on three separate levels:
1. Getting the best medical treatment that you can, in order for you to get the best medical result.
2. Getting the best, persuasive evidence that you need in order to win your DBA claim.
3. Not making any of the common mistakes that is going to help the DBA insurance company defeat your case. This includes not doing or saying anything that is going to adversely affect your credibility and character.
Why is it important for you to be honest about your medical history?
By medical history, I am referring to the medical treatment and/or problems and issues that you had before you were injured as an overseas civilian contractor. This is true, no matter what type of injury you have. From a back injury to PTSD.
When the doctor asks about whether you had any back problems before you were injured overseas, for instance, you need to tell the doctor about all of your prior back problems. From injuries, you may have had, to medical treatment. To prior car accidents. Whatever.
There are any number of ways that insurance companies can and will find out about your prior injuries. For example, from Insurance Index Bureaus.
Not telling your doctor about prior injuries can hurt you on so many levels. Obviously if the Judge thinks you're lying, it is never good. But in addition, your doctors opinion that the injury incident that occurred while you were overseas was the cause of your present medical condition can fold like a tent once it is discovered that you tried to hide a prior injury incident.
It is always better to be completely upfront about prior injuries. Always.
Do I have a physician- patient privilege when I talk to my doctor if I have a Defense Base Act injury?
Physician–patient privilege is a legal concept, related to medical confidentiality, that protects communications between a patient and his or her doctor from being used against the patient in court. It is a part of the rules of evidence in many common law jurisdictions. Just because you were injured overseas doesn't mean you are waiving the physician–patient privilege .BA
However, if you are bringing a Defense Base Act claim then you will not be able to assert the physician–patient privilege. Meaning, that when you bring a DBA claim, everything you say to your doctor and everything your doctor says to you must be revealed. You can expect the DBA insurance company to get all of your doctor's records and you can expect your doctor to have to testify about all of their communications with you.
Why do I need to be careful about what I say to my doctor?
Because everything you say to your doctor will be used against you, if possible, by the DBA insurance company.
Always be truthful with your doctor
One false statement, one exaggeration, one lie about a symptom can lose you your case. So, when you step into a doctor’s office know you’re stepping on eggshells.
DBA Tips for Talking To Your Doctor
You’re probably thinking that talking about your DBA injury to your doctor is pretty simple, right? You just got be honest, they’re your doctor they’re not going to screw your over.
But your medical records and your physician’s evaluation will both be used to evaluate your DBA claim. And because of this you must be careful when discussing your symptoms with your doctor. You don’t want to say the wrong thing and then fudge your case.
Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind when talking to your doctor about your injury covered by the Defense Base Act:
Never exaggerate your symptoms or lie to the doctor. If your doctor catches you in a lie, he’ll tell it to the judge, the DBA insurance company and their lawyers. And you will lose your case. It happens all the time. So save yourself some trouble and just tell the truth with everything and everyone involved with your DBA case.
Your doctor will want to know how your condition has changed since the last visit. Instead of saying that your injury is better or worse, give specific examples of things that have happened which affected your injury and abilities. For example, if your knee gave way while climbing stairs, or your back hurt for days after driving, or you attempted to lift something but couldn’t manage it, mention these instances.
Discuss new activities.
If you think you can or want to do more physically, you should always discuss it with your doctor before you do what you want. This is because if the DBA insurance companies catch you doing something you “can’t” do or aren’t supposed to do they’ll use it against you. Also, injuries are fickle. You may feel fine, try to do something and make it worse. That’s not what you want.
I said be careful. So, here are a few mistakes to avoid at your next doctor’s appointment:
Make sure you tell the doctor about all your problems
Many patients make the mistake of discussing only what hurts the most, rather than detailing all of their symptoms. Not only does your doctor need to know all of your symptoms to give you the best treatment, but failing to list all of your medical problems can hurt your claim later.
DO NOT downplay your symptoms.
Doctor’s appointments can be embarrassing and frightening, so you may be tempted to hide your suffering in order to get out of there faster. But your doctor can only put down in your medical records what you tell him. Stick to the facts, and be as accurate as possible.
I'm not suggesting that you be a whiner. But, you, make sure you tell your doctor like it is.
DO NOT push yourself.
Look I know you want to get better faster and get back to the way things were before your injury. But that doesn’t mean that you should try some new activities as soon as you get out of the doctor’s office. You’ll probably hurt yourself more and if that’s not enough to convince you to not do it, then know that the DBA insurance company is watching your every move.
Like I said earlier if they see you doing something you shouldn’t be doing it they’ll use it against you. And you will be knocked down a step lower than you were before. So if you want to do something new ask your doctor about it first.
DBA Insurance Company and Your Doctor
If the DBA insurance doctor recommends you go a doctor, do not EVER receive treatment with that doctor.. When it comes times to make a determination about your injuries, a doctor working for the DBA insurance company might find some tricky ways to bend the truth by saying:
- Your injuries weren’t caused by your employment or existed before your employment.
- You aren’t actually injured or are “faking it” in hopes of getting undue compensation.
- Your injuries exist, but they aren’t as bad as you claim and don’t prevent you from returning to work.
If you didn’t choose your own doctor or if your regular doctor and the insurance company’s doctor disagree about the cause or extent of your injury, your case is about to become a lot more complicated.
You Have the Right to See a Doctor of Your Choosing
As you work through the steps required to get your Defense Base Act (DBA) benefits for an overseas injury, you may find yourself dealing with one of the doctors working for, or that was recommended, by the insurance company handling your claim. Keep in mind that you have the right to see a doctor of your choosing. You don’t want the doctor the insurance company recommends, they may screw you over.
The problem is that insurance companies are likely to recommend you see doctors that they know will put the company’s priorities first. This might mean declaring you to be at “Maximum Medical Improvement” too early or saying that you can return to work without taking into account the real demands of your job.
All of this is why you need to be careful about who you choose to be your doctor and how you talk to your doctor. I, again, stress that you always tell the truth and are completely honest with your doctor from day one.
Free Choice Physician under the Defense Base Act
Under the DBA, you have what is called a "Free Choice of Physician." Meaning, you get to choose your doctor. I suggest that you use your choice very wisely. You want a doctor that is a patient advocate - not a doctor that will favor the insurance company, because they are paying his bills.
Under some circumstances you may (that is a "may"), be able to change doctors.
Find out more about medical treatment and the Defense Base Act with these resources:
Can you get lifetime medical treatment for your injury? Find out here.
Have a back injury? Learn how to handle your back injury claim here.
This is an eye-opening book that gives you an insider's view of the Defense Base Act and how to beat the DBA insurance company. This book will take you step by step on how to avoid the DBA insurance company tricks and traps that are designed to destroy your DBA claim.
If you do one thing - you owe it to yourself to read the 5 Star reviews of the book on amazon.com!!
Disclaimer: Please understand these discussions and/or examples are not legal advice. All legal situations are different. This testimonial, endorsement and/or discussion does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter, your particular case/ situation and/or this particular case/ situation.