Written by Attorney Lewis A. Berns
Here in the State of Florida, we have PIP insurance which is extremely helpful after an automobile accident occurs. Many people will go to their family doctor after an automobile accident and, in turn, will complain of neck, back or other related orthopedic problems. That doctor may or may not be familiar with the process that goes on with any type of an injury claim, including reporting to the insurance companies and the like.
However, there are some doctors that will refuse to treat anybody with an automobile accident. Generally, the family practitioner is reluctant to do it, but there has been a longstanding relationship that may continue to do so. However, when these types of injuries occur, they may refer the patient to an orthopedic or neurological doctor for further examination and/or treatment,
Often going to an orthopedic surgeon at the recommendation of the family practitioner, that doctor will ask whether or not this was as a result of an automobile accident and then the answer is affirmative, the doctor does refuse to treat the patient saying that he will not treat automobile or personal injury cases. The question would be does he have the right to do that; and the answer, of course, is yes, a doctor may or may not accept any patient he or she should so choose.
Where does that leave the patient, because treatment after an automobile accident is necessary in order to properly maintain a claim. The insurance companies often will look at the type of treatment, the frequency of the treatment and how long the person treated and the final outcome. In any community, there are doctors, including chiropractors, that will treat patients after an automobile accident and, further, send them for x-rays, MRI’s and various other diagnostic aids. One should remember that PIP will pay for 80% of the medical costs and 60% of the lost wages up to $10,000. That is something available to anyone. If the person has additional health insurance, that would equally be helpful.
It may require an injured person to seek the advice of others regarding doctors who may treat these types of incidents and that would include their own attorneys. That is clearly not a situation where an attorney says see this doctor or that, but may be able to provide them with the names of other doctors who will treat these types of injuries, which is equally important when making a claim against an insurance company.
Now, going back to the beginning of this, this reluctance on the part of doctors to treat patients in accident cases goes to the idea that they will be forced to, at some time, under oath at a deposition or even go to court, to testify in behalf of the patient. Obviously, the doctors do not want to have this interruption to their already busy schedule. However, this fear is somewhat unwarranted in that a very small percentage of cases actually go to trial and that most of these cases do settle without even being in suit.
However, trying to convince someone of old fears is not always the easiest thing to do. The bottom line is to get treatment somewhere immediately after the accident so that PIP will apply and seek to find doctors who are familiar with these auto and other personal injury cases and continue such treatment, if necessary.