When a lupus patient has an auto accident, work comp injury, or some other personal injury where an accident insurance claim may be involved, sorting out treatment and claims can get pretty tricky. Personal experience with these type of insurance claims provided some perspectives about working with doctors to sort out each new injury, and distinguish it from previous injuries and chronic illness. The most recent auto accident that happened makes dealing with several issues fresh all over again!
Years ago, two different injuries resulted in insurance claims. First, an auto accident followed a few weeks later by a fall down stairs at work. Communication was the key to sorting out the differences between injuries. Now, a recent auto accident was followed by a trip and fall at the shopping mall, and the same approach is needed once again.
Granted, with auto-immune illness, there are always many days with pain and discomfort, but new injuries seem to make coping even more difficult. Day by day it has taken patience through the recovery, meanwhile remembering to ask God for the grace to be able to refrain from too much grumbling. This too will pass, and the Bible says that the rain falls on everyone, so the storm becomes a little personal. The new traumas also caused lupus to flare for several weeks.
Because of ongoing medical problems from chronic disease, communication with a doctor after a traumatic injury is very important. Providing very complete, specific, and accurate information helped doctors and employers understand new symptoms and distinguish accident-related time off work. Although several past accident injury claims were unfortunate, a few personal kernels of reality and wisdom emerged from the experiences. While clearly not legal advice (which would be extremely unethical for this non-lawyer to provide), these personal observations may give some helpful insight to others patients with chronic illness who are facing a similar accidental injury situation.
Three foundational, if not simplistic, realizations:
- Only medical problems clearly a result of the accident injury were covered by any of the claims.
- Unchanged pre-existing medical problems were not part of the injury insurance claims. (Obvious but worth saying)
- Flares of of pre-existing medical problems clearly triggered by the injury were able to be included in the claims, but only to the degree this diagnosis was included in medical records statements that supported how the autoimmune illness had worsened after the accidents, and because of the accidents.
Four conversations throughout various stages of recovery that it helped to chat with the doctor about:
- Asking what percent the doctor thought recovery from the first accident was reached, right after the second accident happened. This helped establish a milestone in the treatment that we would work our way back toward during recovery from the second accident.
- Asking the doctor about how they thought injuries from the second accident were different than the first. It helped when the doctor compared and contrasted between both injuries, and this gave clear information to use talking to both insurance companies.
- If the doctor doesn’t mention the idea, suggesting the concept to the doctor of a “window” in the recovery from the first accident while the second accident recovery was in progress. This helped work with both insurance companies to make clear agreement about who was paying for what and when. This helped the first insurance company know what to expect, and to realize they would be resuming responsibility for medical treatment costs after the recovery milestone was reached.
- Asking about total recovery in percentages after resuming the treatment just for the remaining first accident injuries, helped keep things straight with the insurance company. Ongoing conversation about status of recovery with the doctor and claims adjuster helped keep everyone’s expectations and timelines clear.
After having a couple of previous injuries, three serious car accidents, a work comp fall down stairs on the job, and two slip and fall injuries, personal experiences helped clarify the impact of an accident injury on overall lupus condition and general health. It seems that if both adjusters and doctors had not been part of the conversations during recovery, proving diagnosis of increased lupus activity due to the traumatic injury would have been much harder. It seemed better for everyone to be involved in ongoing discussion about the degree pre-accident health had be reached.
Of course, with lupus or any autoimmune disease, there is no “back to normal”, but with good communication, it can become clear when near “normal” health was regained. Each day, no matter what it brings, is a glorious new day to be alive, what ever “normal” ends up being.