Why some fix people quickly, and others scam the system in Michigan
For my latest year-end reflections on automobile insurance company abuse in Michigan, and the abuses that have sprung up on both sides as a result, I’d like to talk about chiropractors.
Let me start by saying that I personally go see a chiropractor. About once or twice a year, my back or neck goes “out.” As a lawyer handling serious personal injury cases, I probably know or have deposed almost every top medical specialist in the state. But I see chiropractors because peer-reviewed medical studies have repeatedly shown that for acute injuries and trauma, chiropractic care is more effective than traditional medical doctors and pills.
One great example of this is the US Olympic teams. Olympic rules allow these teams to travel with only one doctor, and yet these elite athletes choose to travel with chiropractors. Also, look to the sidelines of most professional sporting events, and you’ll see players being adjusted by chiropractors.
Chiropractic care is functional, whereas traditional medicine centers more on processes, like disease. That’s why chiropractors actually have higher success rates at treating mechanical and functional injuries, such as neck or back injuries sustained by many car accident victims.
However, there is absolutely no reason for a person to see a chiropractor every day for a year – or for years on end.
Sadly, today there is a very small group of dishonest chiropractors. Worse yet, these dishonest chiropractors work in conjunction with a small group of crooked personal injury lawyers. These lawyers — who I personally feel tarnish the reputation of the legal profession — deliberately sacrifice the welfare of their clients and violate their most important fiduciary responsibilities. They do this by referring clients to see their chiropractor buddies – every day – for years.
Here’s the game:
* The crooked chiropractor works up a bill for $100,000 or more;
* The crooked attorney files a no-fault lawsuit so the client’s insurance company will cover the exorbitant medical bill and;
* The attorney takes one-third of the medical bills.
* The auto insurance company rightly fights the huge chiropractic bill (I can’t believe I am typing this, since Michigan insurance companies normally refuse to pay any bills, no matter how honest and legitimate);
* The insurance company usually settles the case and ends up paying half or less;
* The crooked lawyer settles the $100,000 chiropractic bill for $50,000 and takes his one-third cut of the $50,000 and;
* The chiropractor keeps the rest.
That crooked lawyer just made more money on the chiropractor’s bill then he ever would have helping his client with his auto case. He is deliberately sacrificing his client’s case, settling for nuisance value, so he can make a fortune on referring people in volume to chiropractors.
Prevent Legal Fraud and Chiropractic Abuse
I was honored to speak two years ago to several hundred insurance company adjusters. Although I speak regularly, this wasn’t my usual audience, but I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tell a room full of insurance claims adjusters all the things I think they do wrong!
But I also mentioned this during my speech, because frankly, most of these insurance companies and defense lawyers know exactly who the small handful of lawyers and chiropractors are who are doing this – and they should do something about it.
This type of unethical activity unnecessarily tarnishes the reputations of both chiropractors and lawyers. And this adds thousands of dollars in medical and legal fraud to our own no-fault insurance system in Michigan.
To prevent just this type of abuse from happening in our own law firm, and to eliminate even the temptation, Michigan Auto Law as a general rule does not take any attorney fees on medical bills for medical providers. Every once in a while, our lawyers make an exception, but this occurs usually, for example, when the doctor or hospital wants to hire us to collect payment for their own medical services, because it’s cheaper than it would be for the hospital to hire its own lawyer to pursue these medical bills. We’ll also take fees on medical bills when there’s only a few weeks left on the statute of limitations and the doctors are basically begging us to protect their bills so they aren’t completely time-barred by Michigan’s harsh one- year back rule. Still, these cases are very rare.
So if your lawyer is forcing you – yes, forcing you — to treat with a chiropractor everyday for months, even after you’ve said you’re feeling better or you are ready to go back to work, or that it isn’t helping and you want to be referred to a different medical specialist, my advice is this: Run away. Go find an honest lawyer to represent you. Find a real lawyer who cares about you, your car accident case and your best welfare.
– Steven M. Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top attorneys handling serious car and truck accident injury cases and automobile insurance no-fault litigation. Steve has received the largest jury verdict for an automobile accident case in Michigan in four of the past seven years, including 2008, according to a published, year-end verdicts and settlements report.
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