What Happens To My Case If My Injury Is Misdiagnosed?

What happens to my case if my injury is misdiagnosed?

The team at ABRAMS LANDAU is often contacted by an injured worker or motorist who is disabled from work, where only some of their injuries were attended to at the emergency room/clinic, or misdiagnosed altogether. Are these innocent victims of other people’s mistakes not going to be fairly reimbursed?

Sometimes, in an effort to get a patient out of the cold, rain or bad weather, an ambulance crew or EMTs will note the major injuries, and not record other injuries after a car crash or workplace accident. These injuries may develop and become more apparent over time.

Trial Attorney Doug Landau empathizes with their plight, as he shattered his ankle during a friendly Sunday afternoon neighborhood tennis match in Franklin Farms. He went to the local free-standing emergency room in Reston, Virginia, where he was told that he had only a “sprained ankle.“ The E.R. Physician on duty told him to stay off it for 24 hours and gave him an Ace bandage and crutches. Landau was instructed to follow up with one of their panel doctors if it was not better in a week.

When Landau’s ankle blew up to the size of a cantaloupe and turned purple, he called a friend who was a Sports Medicine Specialist and got an appointment Monday morning. The Sports Medicine Doctor could not even determine the extent of the injury until he took several syringes full of black blood out of the injured area, and X-rays that revealed six fractures! Lawyer Landau had been misdiagnosed.

After the “acute phase,” he was in physical therapy at Mount Vernon for eight weeks. His doctor transitioned the active attorney to deep water running (hydrotherapy). Landau knows first-hand about misdiagnoses and missing injured body parts because of extreme pain in another part of the body. This is not unheard of in an acute, sudden injury.

Sometimes doctors and other health care providers “miss the mark,”” and do not discover other injured bodyparts because of excruciating pain or other symptoms that arise later after an accident.

So, does a misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a particular body part doom a Worker’s Compensation and/or car crash case? The short answer is no.

Some injuries take time to evolve, and other conditions do not show up on X-rays until the bone mineralizes (i.e., shin splints, stress fractures, and other conditions involving osseous structures). Other times, when there are injuries to several places on the body, the extreme pain of one condition will make the patient unaware of the extent of the harm. In cases reviewed by the Abrams Landau team, the other glaring injuries, such as a compound fracture poking through the skin or bleeding, will divert healthcare providers’ attention from internal injuries, less obvious trauma, and less painful conditions. In fact, EMTs are often taught not to be distracted by blood because focusing on bleeding can cause them to miss other potentially more serious injuries.

Insurance companies for unsafe motorists, Worker’s Compensation policies, and other negligent defendants will focus on: inconsistencies in the medical records; absence of diagnoses shortly after the injury; and “gaps in treatment.” So what can an injured victim do about it?

For one, they can follow up with their family doctor. The doctor will know their prior health and history to correct misdiagnoses and get proper medical treatment, medication, and diagnostic testing. Another step to take is to follow up with the appropriate specialist for the kind of injury sustained. In other words, if multiple injuries were sustained in a fall from a ladder, and only some were attended to at the Emergency Room, following up with an Orthopedic Specialist for bone and joint problems, or an Internal Medicine Specialist for swelling in the abdomen, would probably be an excellent idea.

If the authorized treating physician for the Worker’s Compensation case will only look at the body parts that they received authorization from the insurance company, then the injured victim may have to see a different doctor for other body parts. It’s important to see a family physician, go to the emergency room, or take other immediate action before the injuries become much worse and the conditions irreversibly permanent. However, just because a body part or injury was not diagnosed at the emergency room, it does not foreclose reimbursement from the defendant or Worker’s Compensation Insurance Company. In addition, with the appropriate testing and documentation, additional injuries, compensable consequences, and medical professionals’ bills can all be included successfully in a case on behalf of the injured victim.

There are strict legal deadlines for Worker’s Compensation claims and car crash cases. If you or someone you know, has questions about a missed diagnosis, late diagnosis, or other aspects of an injury claim to multiple body parts, and how this affects their legal rights, please contact us at 703–796–9055, or email frontdesk@landaulawshop.com.