So, you’ve been in a car crash and you’re achy and sore. You didn’t go to an emergency room because you knew you didn’t have any broken bones, internal injuries or bleeding. Will your long term family doctor now see you to assess the injuries?
Well, of course, my family doctor will see me. Why wouldn’t he? I’ve been a patient for years!
There’s about a 50-50 chance your primary care physician will want nothing to do with you after a crash. Is it because they can’t handle your traumatic injury? Of course not. Family physicians are trained to deal with a multitude of illnesses and injuries. While medical specialists exist for a very good reason there is no reason why your family doc cannot examine you, get some x-rays and make an initial diagnosis before coming up with a treatment plan.
So why won’t they? One word: Litigation.
Many physicians believe if they start treating an injury victim who is making a personal injury claim they will get pulled into a time-consuming web of personal injury lawyers, depositions, lawsuits, jury trials, and sitting in courtroom hallways waiting to get called as an expert witness. In short, the hassle of treating you and assisting you with your personal injury claim is more than they are prepared to deal with. Go somewhere else.
Of course, physicians are free to do what they want, but this presumption of unbridled interruption of this family practice to assist you with your claim is wildly exaggerated. Fewer than 50% of injury claims go into litigation and fewer than 50% of those end up in front of a jury. The chances of one particular injury patient ending up in the trial are generally less than one in ten. Many doctors I know who do assist their patients with injury claims have never been to trial.
Ironically, if this family doc who turned you away did treat you, he’d actually get compensated better than he does for an average patient. Health insurance pays physicians a set amount per treatment which is generally quite low. Car insurance (PIP) pays a physician 80% of their reasonable bills – many times higher than most health insurance plans. Alas, the perception of dealing with personal injury lawyers clouds one’s business sense.
Finally, some physicians won’t treat you, but they will refer you onto somewhere else. Beware of this arrangement because some docs will refer you to a big clinic that does specialize in personal injury work. Big clinic usually means big bills.
This is yet another reason why it is so important to get a personal injury lawyer involved in your claim very early after your injury. We can be your legal guide to help you deal with your damaged car, your lost wages and we can be your medical quarterback to prevent the early onset of abusive medical billing by getting you to a reasonable medical provider who doesn’t shy away from doing the right thing for their patient.
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