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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

I had a Car Accident. Do I Call a Doctor or Call a Lawyer First?


I had a Car Accident.  Do I Call a Doctor or Call a Lawyer First?
Lets shift gears a bit here and talk about something that bugs me quite often.


Many patients of mine come to my office for injuries including whiplash treatment after they have been involved in a car accident, but all too often the first phone call they make is to an attorney.  I have seen this hundreds of times over the last sixteen years of practice as your Chiropractor and I immediately stop and explain to the patient that in most cases this is not a very good way to proceed.  Now, if you are an attorney reading this, you are not happy that I am saying this.  You are not happy that I am telling the truth, in what I am about to divulge.  The reason being, is that if you are a lawyer, you want to maintain control of the whole situation, which includes of course, where the client goes for treatment.  However, even though I type these words, it is not going to change the fact that many if not most accident victims will do just that--contact an attorney first.  

It turns out, for many people involved in an accident and are injured, the first thought after the loud crash and the cars have come to rest is, "I'm gonna sue that guy."   This is the wrong way of thinking, as you can imagine.  What is important is that only under certain conditions is it wise to contact a lawyer before a doctor.  You see, the insurance claim representatives are trained to recognize a claim that is based on real injuries and back pain or whiplash versus a claim that is based on the foundation of, "Pay Me."  If you have a car accident and the first thing you do is hire a lawyer, and the lawyer "sends" you to one of "his" doctors, the insurance representative who holds the checkbook is going to pick your claim out of the stack and is likely to scrutinize the treatments and question the claimants motivation.

Now, although you may have a legal right to fight for compensation if you are a victim with injuries due to someone else's doing, in most cases you are not actually suing anyone at all, rather you are putting an insurance company on notice and they should be prepared in the future for a monetary demand.  Well, insurance companies have departments set aside to handle these phone calls and demands.  It's called a claims department.  In fact, the insurance company creates teams of trained specialists that sit behind desks, and answer these calls and literally process these claims all day, to pay out to accident victims.  Actually, it is very rare that an insurance company is actually sued to pay these bodily injury claims.  They simply look at the facts, damages, and injuries of the claim, and make a determination as to what they think the claim is worth.  The next thing that happens is that your lawyer tries to negotiate that amount as high as possible.  It's like buying a car, when you go back and forth with the salesman until the price is agreeable. 

I explain this to patients all the time because sometimes it even makes me question my patient's motives if they contacted a lawyer before receiving treatent.  I have an obligation to release patients from care if I feel they are not as hurt physically as they want you to believe. There is a word for this.  The word is "malingering."   Contact your doctor first, not a lawyer. 
My Chiropractic Clinic is in the Miramar/Pembroke Pines area of South Florida.  Call me for an appointment. Dr. Alan Himmel 954-659-8600