Suppose you have been injured in a car accident and have been to the emergency room or urgent care, and now need further treatment. You have hired a Duluth personal injury lawyer to represent you, and he or she has told you to seek out a follow-up appointment with your doctor. These instructions seem vague to you and perhaps you do not know exactly what you should do. Your attorney is not trying to confuse you. He or she is trying to protect your interests and preserve a credible personal injury claim in a manner that accurately represents your injuries and the integrity of your claim.
Should An Attorney Recommend Medical Treatment After a Car Accident?
There is a common misunderstanding regarding what a lawyer can and cannot, or should not, do for clients who are injured in a car accident. It is understandable that the entire process of setting up doctors’ appointments and navigating through your treatment can be overwhelming, especially if your car has been totaled or is being repaired. However, when it comes to personal injury claims, there are certain things that are best handled on your own, such as establishing treatment with a doctor. Yes, your attorney can guide you through some of the processes, especially when doctors’ offices claim they cannot use health insurance if you were in a car accident.
However, you may ultimately build a stronger case and save yourself money in the end if you do not rely on the attorney to set up appointments or determine what doctors you see.
Many insurance companies cynically suspect that if the attorney assists you in procuring medical treatment, then you are not hurt or are being steered toward a doctor-friendly to your lawyer. You do not want is the perception that your attorney, who is not a doctor, dictates your treatment. However, sometimes an injured client might have no choice but to seek assistance from the attorney for treatment because there is no health insurance or because some providers refuse to treat car crash victims.
This does not mean you are completely on your own. It simply means you will want to take control of your treatment from the beginning. When you meet with an attorney for a consultation, let him or her know if you have health insurance or not and what follow up instructions you were given at your initial treatment visit, whether that was at the emergency room, urgent care or your primary care physician. This information will help your attorney guide you towards the appropriate starting path, which usually consists of clarifying what the doctor told you at your initial treatment visit.
Do I need To Stick To My Health Insurance After An Accident?
If you have health insurance, it is best that you set up your doctors’ appointments by logging into your health insurance website and finding appropriate doctors or getting a referral from your primary care physician. You always want your treatment plan to be a decision you and your doctor make and you want that to be demonstrated clearly when your records are provided to the auto insurance company. If you do not have health insurance, your attorney likely knows a doctor’s office that will treat you on a lien basis. A lien is an agreement between you, the attorney and the doctor that you will be treated at a higher cost under the assumption that the doctor will be paid out of any settlement funds you later receive. If a lien is required, the attorney will most likely give you the facility’s phone number to call and set up the appointment yourself. There are times when the attorney will reach out to the provider and give your contact information, but the attorney should not be actively involved in collaborating on your treatment.
Your personal injury claim ultimately rests on whether or not it can be clearly demonstrated that you were injured in a car accident and then sought treatment because of those injuries. You do not want there to be any confusion about why you started seeing a particular doctor. Yes, attorneys sometimes end up working with the same doctors repeatedly, but that does not necessarily ruin a case. This is not to say you should not accept your attorney’s advice on treatment. This is only that you should always take charge and remain in charge of who you treat with.
If you have other questions about what you should do right after the accident, check out our post about who you should call first after a car accident.