Some personal injury lawyers in Maryland have a very negative opinion of chiropractors and they usually try to steer their accident clients away from using chiropractors to treat injuries suffered in an accident. Is this view unfair? It is. But this negative opinion of chiropractors is largely shaped by how chiropractors are viewed by insurance claims adjusters.
Patients often see it differently. Many insist that chiropractors provide effective treatment and make them feel better. Most insurance adjusters, however, are more reluctant to pay full value for chiropractic therapy. Adjusters argue chiros treat patients too long and charge too much. The other problem with chiropractors in personal injury claims is that they usually don’t give injured patients a diagnosis, or any sort of long-term treatment plan with an end goal of recovery. Too many chiropractors have the mentality of trying to get a lifelong patent.
As lawyers, it is not our job to control or direct our clients in their medical treatment choices. However, we do have an ethical obligation to advise our clients that if they chose to use a chiropractor instead of a traditional doctor, it could have a negative impact on the value of their accident case if there is not a medical doctor standing behind the chiropractors work and blessing the treatment.
Some Claims Adjusters Hesitate to Fully Reimburse for Chiropractic Treatment
If you were injured in an accident and you are pursuing a personal injury claim, one of the primary things you will be seeking financial compensation for is the cost of your medical treatment. This makes it very important what type of treatment you get and who and where you get that treatment from. When you use just a chiropractor after an accident, it will have a negative impact on the value of your claim.
The reason chiropractic treatment brings down the value of accident claims is because there is a pervasive attitude within the insurance industry that chiropractors are not qualified (and, implicitly, they argue they can’t be trusted) to diagnose injuries and design an appropriate treatment plan. Here is an example of how this often works in claims:
John gets in a rear-end auto accident and injures his back. His doctor diagnosed him with a disc herniation and refers him to a physical therapist for treatment. John goes to the physical therapist and gets a treatment plan that involves 2 sessions a week for a month. John retains an auto accident lawyer and pursues a claim against the at-fault driver. The insurance company admits liability and agrees to pay for John’s medical expenses when he finishes treatment. After just one session of physical therapy, however, John stops going to PT and goes to his chiropractor instead. The chiropractic therapy makes his back feel much better, so he continues that for several months.
John’s lawyer submits a demand for $75,000 which includes $15,000 in past medical expenses ($7,000 for the chiropractic therapy). The insurance adjuster refuses to pay for the chiropractor’s entire bill and questions the validity of John’s injury. If John was really hurt, why did he go to a chiropractor instead of continuing his PT? The case ends up settling for just $25,000.
What you often see is the insurance company will not pay the entire chiropractic bill. Many chiropractors get this and will reduce how much the patient is required to pay them by 33% or more. But if they demand their full bill, it makes it really tough to get the case resolved in a way that maximizes the client’s recovery.
Should You See a Chiropractor in a Car Accident Case?
You should see a chiropractor if you think that is the best path to getting better from the crash. That is the bottom line, right? Accident lawyers sometimes for the endgame is for the patient to get better.
I think it is key to have a medical doctor bless the work the chiropractor is doing. This is smart legally and medically. You also have to know that an insurance company is likely to cut the chiropractor’s bills and you should find out in advance if the chiropractor is willing to reduce his or her bills in this event.
Contact Miller & Zois About Your Accident Case
If you have been injured in an accident caused by the negligence of another driver, our Maryland accident attorneys can help you get the most compensation for your claim.