The hidden relationship between doctors, car accident victims, and personal injury lawyers
If your personal injury lawyer is telling you which doctors to treat with and what treatment to get after a car accident, this may not be the right lawyer for you. A personal injury lawyer should concentrate on the law and winning your case. Unfortunately, many law firms have arrangements with doctors offices that are not beneficial to their clients, especially with car accident victims. Essentially, the medical office agrees to refer cases to the law firm and the law firm agrees to refer patients to the doctors office.
How does this referral practice adversely affect the client? First, it means that the client is not always getting a doctor with the right qualifications for their specific injuries. There are many orthopedic doctors and some specialize in specific areas of the body like the feet, shoulder, hands, and back. You should be treated by a doctor based upon the doctors credentials and your specific injuries, not based upon a referral network with your lawyer.
The second problem is that car accident victims are having their insurance coverage depleted by certain medical offices for the wrong reasons. If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident your health insurance coverage is usually provided by the insurance company for the vehicle you were in during the accident. If a pedestrian is struck by a car or truck, the insurance for the vehicle that hit you usually provides the coverage. You must use this insurance coverage first and absolutely must submit the proper paperwork within 30 days of the accident or lose all health coverage for this accident.
This is called no-fault coverage and it will pay your medical bills, lost wages, transportation costs, and other miscellaneous expenses, but only up to $50,000, unless additional coverage was purchased. Once this $50,000 of coverage is depleted, you may be unable to receive further medical coverage if you do not have any other private health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. This is especially important for accident victims who are undocumented.
Some medical offices are offering car services for motor vehicle accident victims to entice patients. Many do not realize that the car services offered are not free services, but are usually billed by the medical offices to the no-fault insurance company for payment. This slowly depletes your available insurance coverage for future medical treatment.
If a client specifically asks the lawyer to recommend a reputable doctor because they cannot find one on their own, I give the client a few choices of doctors who have excellent credentials to address their specific needs and let the client choose. You can check a doctors qualifications using a website www.nydoctorprofile.com. The website will also list whether the doctor has had any malpractice settlements or verdicts against him or her.
When a client asks me if they should have surgery and will it help the case, I tell him or her that you should ask your doctor about the surgery, get a second medical opinion if unsure, and then decide for yourself based upon what is right for you medically. There are serious risks for any surgery, and I would never recommend taking those risks simply to help bolster the value of a case.
As personal injury lawyers, we should fight for the most money we can obtain for our client. However, we should also fight for the best medical treatment for our client as well. There are many things that a good personal injury lawyer does in representing an injured client. Telling the clients which doctors to choose and what treatment to get is not one of them, so select your doctor and personal injury lawyer carefully.