Coronavirus is changing our world every day, every hour. As we try to keep up with it all, there are still practical questions that need answers. Here’s one we expect to hear more of, “I have been hurt because of someone else’s negligence (like in a car wreck), how do I get the treatment I need?”
As a starting point, know that in more ordinary times, we want anyone who is injured to follow doctors’ orders and follow through with receiving treatment that is recommended to help them heal. As a practical matter and on a human level, we want our clients’ quality of life to be better. When you feel better, life is better. But also as a legal matter, you have a responsibility to “mitigate your damages,” meaning you have a responsibility to act reasonably to get better.
On top of that we now have to layer on the issues presented by the global pandemic. All of the advice listed above is still true. But it may mean something different than usual. For instance, your doctors may not order the same things or delay ordering them because there is more risk to you from potential exposure than the benefits of treatment. Or maybe there is a lack of resources (like hospital beds, MRI scanners, etc.).
Here are three practical tips to consider:
- Call ahead. If you have appointments already scheduled, call those health care providers to see what they recommend and what protocols they are following. Things really are changing all the time right now, so that will provide you with the most up-to-date information for those offices.
- Follow recommendations. Once you have checked in with your providers and know how they want you to proceed, continue to follow your doctors’ recommendations and orders. It will be best for you, both from a human and legal perspective. It should give you the best chance of staying well. And no reasonable judge or jury who hears your case later is going to fault you for doing what your doctors tell you during this pandemic.
- Ask what you can do. Even if some of your treatment is delayed, ask if there are things you can do on your own. For instance, maybe your physical therapist will send you a home exercise program. Your doctors may make suggestions about over the counter medications or other simple measures you can take from home. It is helpful for us to be able to show in a legal case when a patient takes initiative to get better. It is also a great and productive way to occupy time if you are stuck at home.
This is definitely not business as usual for anyone right now. Luckily, you do not have to figure it all out on your own. Lean on your resources, check in with the professionals who are helping you, and find that extra bit of patience and understanding as we navigate this together.