Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. I don’t play one on T.V., though some of what I know about medicine I learned watching E.R. on television. Some is from helping people who have been involved in Washington DC car accidents-I talk to their doctors, I read their medical reports, and I research their injuries. I should also note that my father is a heart doctor (Cardiologist) in Montgomery County, Maryland and I have learned a lot about the medical profession from him.
Sometimes our automobile accident clients ask me about medical treatment. We get a lot of calls from automobile accident victims who want our advice on what doctors to go to. It’s not for the reasons you might think-it’s not because they want to bilk insurance companies for everything they can; it’s not because they want a doctor who will look the other way while they exaggerate their injuries for the purpose of a lawsuit. We don’t represent those people. No, the people who ask me for medical advice truly need it because they can’t get help anywhere else. Many of our clients don’t have health insurance and we are happy to try to help them get the medical treatment they need when necessary. In a personal injury case it is important to have a great doctor so that our clients can get better, but it is also important to have a medical doctor or chiropractor who knows how to properly document injuries with the correct CPT Codes and descriptions so that insurance companies, judges and juries understand our client’s injuries.
It all has to do with insurance. When some of us are hurt, we might go the emergency room, follow-up with our primary care doctor, and get referrals to a specialist if necessary-an orthopedist or a physical therapist, for example. Every appointment, we hand over our health insurance card, pay a little co-pay, and everything gets handled. Our injuries hopefully resolve, and life is good.
For some people, though, it is not that easy. In 2009, about 14% of Marylanders had no health insurance according to U.S. Census statistics. People without health insurance have fewer options for medical care. They might get to an emergency room (which they have to pay for,) but follow-up is typically very difficult, even if they have Personal Injury Protection (PIP.) PIP is a part of an automobile insurance policy that pays a certain amount (usually $2,500 to $10,000) of medical expenses and lost wages following an accident, regardless of who is at fault. The problem is that many doctors and other health care providers do not accept PIP insurance. Or, even if they do, it might be exhausted after a significant hospital visit.
So for the uninsured, it can be difficult to get reliable medical care after an accident that was caused by someone else. It might take 6 months to a year and a half to resolve a lawsuit after an automobile accident victim stops medical treatment. Money from an accident lawsuit often doesn’t come soon enough to help provide that medical treatment. Also, the recovery from a lawsuit is mostly based on the existing medical bills – it is difficult to get a verdict for future medical intervention in musculoskeletal injury cases unless there is a surgery on the horizon, or very well documented testimony from a medical doctor that the future care plan will be needed. In more serious injury cases, we use a life care planner to cost out the future medical needs of Maryland accident victims.
Fortunately, there are some doctors, physical therapists and chiropractors who are willing to treat the uninsured who have auto accident cases and are represented by an attorney without any money upfront. No immediate doctor bills. No co-pays. No out-of-pocket prescription costs. These doctors are willing to take a chance on our clients. If there is a settlement or verdict, the doctors get paid at that time. In many cases we are able to find a high quality medical doctor to treat our client with the understanding the doctor or chiropractor will get paid at the end of the case. In most of these situations, the client and lawyer sign an Authorization and Assignment. This basically gives the medical doctor a lien on the personal injury recovery.
Sometimes there are benefits to consulting the physicians you know and go to regularly. If they won’t take PIP (In Virginia it is called MedPay) or you don’t have health insurance or money to pay, you need to get better. Talk to friends and get recommendations. If that doesn’t work out, talk to an accident lawyer from our law firm. Our main goal as Maryland automobile accident lawyers is to help you get better, and to be sure that you are property compensated for your injuries. Our injury attorneys have many years of experience and your initial consultation is free.