When it comes to selecting medical care following an automobile accident, not all doctors are equal.
As a matter of policy, our office rarely if ever refers patients to a particular doctor. A lone exception may be where someone is new in town or otherwise has no idea where to turn. In most cases, however, the client/patient does the choosing.
This is not to say that all doctors will be equally favorably when it comes to your personal injury case.
First is the issue of competence. Most physicians will be able to deal with the average traumatic injury. But is the doctor truly the best one for your case? It decidedly is the role of a personal injury attorney to express opinions about doctors since an experienced personal injury attorney will know most doctors by reputation. While it may be improper to make direct referrals (for obvious reasons), a lawyer—as your “counselor” – would not really be doing his or her job if he did not speak up if a better referral is available.
But a more troubling circumstance has arisen in recent years – one that requires a personal injury attorney to intervene. This has to do with a growing number of doctors who have real hostility toward personal injury cases. This phenomenon has become more common—and it seems to be getting worse.
A symptom of this disorder arises when the doctor’s office expresses reluctance to treat you simply because your injuries arose out of an accident. You may perceive a note of caution when the doctor’s office asks whether you have a lawyer or whether you intend to pursue a claim. Some doctor’s offices will state up front that they simply will not treat you if your injuries arose from an accident. At least they get credit for full disclosure. More troubling are the doctors who fail to mention their issues with the legal system and then refuse to cooperate or testify when the time comes. This can have dire consequences.
Injury victims are deemed “plaintiffs” in the legal system, and plaintiffs have the burden of proof. Therefore, if the doctor refuses to cooperate, the results can be extremely harmful to the case.
Is there a reliable way to screen out these doctors? Probably not. If the doctor’s office expresses concern about your injury case or asks about it a lot, they may not be the doctor for you. Because even if the medical care is competent, you may not be able to recover damages for a significant part of your case (such as a surgery which is clearly related to the accident but for which the physician will not testify).
Therefore, an injury victim needs to be extremely cautious. Who are the doctors who have extreme and unfair views of injury cases? They can be hard to identify, but we have a pretty good idea who they are. Working with your attorney, you can make sure you get to the right doctors—and avoid the wrong ones.