If your car accident attorney insists you see a particular doctor after a car accident, you need to be careful. This could be the "Kiss of Death" for your claim. Unfortunately, attorneys have been forming relationships with medical professionals such as chiropractors that get noticed by judges and can significantly hurt the value of your case.
Watch the video above (or read the complete transcript below) to discover The Truth About Lawyer to Doctor Referrals
Ben Glass:Hi, this is Ben and today I am interviewing Doctor Corey Malnikof. Corey is a local chiropractor here in Northern Virginia, he owns the Palmer Chiropractic Clinic, has a lot of experience with Chiropractice and particularly with auto accident victims and so I invited him to have a little chat, good afternoon Corey, how are you doing?
Corey Malnikof: I'm great, thank you
Ben: One of things I'd like to talk about is sort of the whole relationship between car accident lawyers and chiropractors because I think a lot of people have misconceptions about what should go on there. What's been your experience?
Corey: Yeah, Ben, kind of like you said I got four chiropractic clinics in Northern Virginia and I see thousands of visits. You know I am from Buffalo where maybe I wasn't used to these many people in such a small area but in Northern Virginia you can't help it. There are car accidents all the time, so just basically doing the numbers when you are seeing thousands of visits, I see a lot of car accident patients. Unfortunately, I think some of the things I see sometimes people need to know.
So I like to just take a minute and point out that when you are in a auto accident and you are seeking out a lawyer maybe there is a soapbox(ph) and maybe that you need to know this. If your lawyer is, A) telling you, you need to go in for x number of visits, because, B) it's going to get your bill to this price because this is a price you should be at based of, of what happened and how much you are accident is going to cost, that this probably a lawyer you should run away from this fast as you possibly can.
Ben: Yeah, you know we agree with that and we see that often. And let me tell you why it is a problem, sure you know you can ask your lawyer for advice, do you know a good chiropractor? Do you know a good orthopedic surgeon, a neurosurgeon? And that is okay sort of one time basis. The problem really is, is lawyers who send all of their clients to the same orthopedist or the same chiropractor, the same spinal surgeon.
See, what people don't know is that the insurance companies are keeping track of all of that. And it just looks really bad if you have to actually go and take your case to court. Look, I think you would agree that your own health is the first consideration. You should not be going to any healthcare provider just to increase a bill for an auto claim, is that right?
Corey: Right, right. Yeah I know I think that that's the biggest problem is that if you are actually new to doctors office because something is going on you want to get better, you should go there with the absolute intension of "I just want to get better doc, what do I need to get my self better?" Having nothing to do with the car accident and the car accident may have caused it, but when you walk you into the doctors office, any relationship I think with the lawyer anything like that, needs to go out the window and you need to be doctor patient relationship what is it going to take for me to get immediate better?
Unfortunately what I am seeing is that we are losing that a lot because doctors are forming these relationships with lawyers and lawyers are sending the doctors and that's all become a business.
Ben: Yeah and it is a sad business because it's the patient the consumer who really doesn't know it is the patient the consumer who really doesn't know what's going on again the insurance companies know. And so if you go to trial, this is what happens in court. The doctor maybe on the stand getting cross examined and the defense lawyer who's got a data base asks the doctor, "Wasn't it true that you know Mr. Glass send you 50 patients a month?" Well a jury sees that they see right through that scam and even though you may have legitimate case and your treatment may have been a 100% legitimate you are now lump into a scheme or scam of lawyer to doctor referral. It doesn't look good and the jury will punish you. That's been my experience in Northern Virginia and in fact-- you know there are judges here in Fairfax who said that it is almost the kiss of death to you case if you are involved one of this lawyer to doctor referrals.
Now again it is not every referral, but if your lawyer says, "Hey, go see doctor so and so." You need to ask that lawyer, "How many patients a year, how many clients do you send to that doctor?" That's vital information. Let me ask you this because I know you mentioned this to me before but you actually get called by lawyers who are looking to setup this sort of relationships.
Corey: Oh yeah, definitely. The big thing with chiropractors and lawyers, I think, is you go out to lunch and you go out to dinner and it is a hand shake. That has nothing to do with how good of a doctor you are or how good of a lawyer you are but instead it's a, "You know we're going to pass you X amount of business if you slide us Y amount of business." And just right there and then it's just to be something that needs to be gotten rid of.
Ben: And then at the end of the day is I understand that lawyers that have these relationships they are always asking a Chiropractor to cut his bill anyway so then they can get the case settled. Why? Because the insurance company knows about these scams so they're making low-ball offers and who gets hurt? It's the patient and often times it's the patient who has a very legitimate claim who gets caught up in this -- it's almost fraud because the patient isn't being told this is going on--
Corey: Yeah, Ben if I could jump in there. Just to back that up, just to tell you, you know - just in the six years or so that I have been seeing this, it used to be very, very standard at least there was some kind of a formula that insurance companies were using which was auto accident cost this much, medical bills cost this much and then the settlement was like you know three times, five times. Well now, in the last year, what we're seeing is all of sudden these settlements are like maybe one and half times.
Corey: And unfortunately the person that's getting hurt here is the person that actually had a case that needs that settlement because they're having a lot of issues out the window because of what we are talking about today.
Ben: We actually have another video on that sort of the car accident formula and you're right. Years ago, it was maybe more formulaic. I think what has happened is the insurance companies again, they keep track of this stuff. They have huge data bases. They know which cases juries will be interested in and will reward fair money on and they know which cases juries will end up punishing the injured person because of the activity of the doctor and the lawyer. It's not fair that that happens but it is the truth and really it is the consumer. It's the patient's responsibility I think, to ask the right questions of their lawyer and of their doctor.
You know it goes the other way too because I get a call from Chiropractors who say, "Gee, I want to send you all of my personal injury cases but really what I want you to do is just send me back in a quid pro quo your personal injury clients. And we say, look, we just don't engage in that one on one referral thing. What we do is we say, "Hey, come on in let's educate people about the medicine, about Chiropractic, about car accidents and about the legal system so that the consumer can make their own decision as to which doctor to see and which lawyer to see." Because definitely, you have choices you know as to how your care and you're probably like me is I like someone who is a client, who is working hard to get better.
Ben: Who's not in it to get a big settlement, because you just never know these days whether you're actually going to win your case or not in many of these cases. What's your view of that? I know you treat some personal injury accident victims. What do you like to see that person -- who sort of your great A plus patient?
Corey: Yeah, I mean the big thing for me with auto accident patients is I just like the patients who just engage in asking me question on what's going on with their bodies, and what's going with their health, and what's it going to take me to get back to being healthy? It just have -- they come in with no preconceived notions of anything but that. You know when I am taking care of a personal injury patient, it's absolutely nothing different as compared to any of my other patients.
Ben: Right, you don't have end game in mind other than things get better.
Corey: Right, so I am just looking for patients that that's what they're looking for. They're not looking to come to me because it has anything to do with the bill or anything do with anyone but told them to do something that strictly they're their because they want health and that's we're after.
If you would like to speak with the BenGlassLaw team about your auto accident claim, you can call our office at (703)584-7277.
Additionally, we have prepared a free report you can download on auto accident claims and what you need to know about the process.