For over fifteen years I was an insurance defense attorney. My job was to minimize the amount of money plaintiffs received for their injury claims. Over the years, I deposed well over one thousand plaintiffs from across the state of New Jersey, from Vineland to Vernon. In my “Confessions of a Former Defense Attorney” series, I share tips, tricks, and pitfalls that can spoil a personal injury claim.
A good defense attorney will meticulously examine all your medical records in advance of your deposition. Among the many records obtained by the defendant often include handwritten “patient intake forms.” Chances are, if you’ve ever been to a doctor, you’ve encountered these forms. Patient intake forms are commonly encountered when visiting a doctor and serve as a questionnaire used by the doctor to gather your medical history, reason for the visit, current complaints, and other pertinent details. These forms may even include a diagram of the human body, prompting you to pinpoint areas of pain. A skilled defense attorney will carefully analyze your responses, aiming to leverage your own statements or any omissions to their advantage.
To better grasp the implications, let’s consider an example. Suppose you sustain a back injury in a car accident, which is the first time you’ve experienced such an issue. About a week later, you visit an orthopedic doctor and fill out the patient intake form. Typically, these forms include a question like: “Have you had these symptoms in the past?” with checkboxes for “Yes” and “No.” Given that the car crash causing your back pain happened a week prior to the doctor’s visit, a truthful and reasonable response to this question would be “Yes.” After all, you have had back pain in the past. It has been ongoing since the accident that happened last week.
However, it’s important to recognize that another interpretation of your “Yes” answer could be that your back pain existed prior to the car accident. A defense attorney is always on the lookout for ways to claim that your pain pre-existed the accident. It’s crucial to understand that the defense attorney may try to exploit your written statements in the intake forms to create confusion, raise questions about your medical history, or cast doubt on your truthfulness. The information you provide in the patient intake form can offer the defense a wealth of material to work with.
It’s essential to recognize the significance of patient intake forms and their potential use in legal proceedings. An experienced personal injury attorney plays a vital role in navigating such tactics and safeguarding your interests. By understanding the possible implications and maintaining vigilance in your communication with medical professionals, you can help protect your case.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only.
Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation.