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Tips for Selecting a Chiropractor for Your Personal Injury

As the injured victim of an automobile collision in Washington or Oregon one of your first priorities is to get effective medical treatment. The second is to make sure your medical bills are paid. If you choose to undergo chiropractic treatment, selecting the right chiropractor can make a big difference in the out come of your personal injury claim. The money spent on medical treatment is your money, and it must be used wisely.

Chiropractic treatment is effective treatment for sprain/strain type injuries to the spine, dizziness induced by whiplash and often for extremity injuries. If you suffer personal injuries in an automobile accident, choosing the right Chiropractor can make a big difference in the outcome of your treatment, and help you obtain fair compensation for your personal injuries.

Experienced personal injury and automobile accident attorneys know which Chiropractors provide quality treatment and support their patients in presentation of their injury claims. There are many qualified providers in the Portland Oregon, Vancouver Washington area.

Tips for Selecting a Chiropractor:

1. Ask about experience with automobile accident and personal injury claims. Has the doctor attended post graduate training in accident injury evaluation and treatment?

TIP: Ask if the doctor does depositions and testifies in court. Nothing is worse than incurring thousands of dollars in medical expenses then finding out the Doctor won’t go to bat for you.

2. Has he/she testified in court or given depositions for patients? Ask for the names of some Washington and Oregon personal injury attorneys the doctor has worked with, call them and ask what they think.

TIP: Beware of the doctor who steers you to a personal injury attorney who is in a distant location. If your attorney is 180 miles away, do you expect the same contact, knowledge of local providers, defense attorneys and courts as a local attorney has?

3. Does the doctor work with multiple attorneys? The best chiropractors maintain a list of attorneys they know to deliver quality results in car crash and personal injury cases. Doctors who work with only one attorney are often directing you to their collection agent. Expect your PIP or Medpay to go away quickly and then, with no money for further medical care you will be discharged.

TIP: Look at the charting, if it makes no sense to you what will an insurance adjuster or juror think of it?

4. Does the doctor have an intake and examination protocol specific to cases involving personal injury claims? Look for detailed intake information on the mechanism of injury, biomechanics and past medical history. A detailed mult ipage auto accident injury questionaire that asks meaningful questions is a must. The intake examination should be very detailed and include orthopedic, neurologic and chiropractic tests. Often an hour or more is spent in intake and exam on the first visit.

TIP: You should feel the doctor has taken the time to know what happened to you and how it affects you.

TIP: The questions asked should be relevant and not create traps for later.

5. In addition to a good intake protocol the doctor should take the time to hear your story. An experienced doctor knows that some questions create problems. Such questions as “how fast was the other car going” are traps and experienced doctors know this. Rarely will a rear-end collision victim have any way to estimate the speed of the other car. Studies have proven that the lead driver will almost always over estimate the speed of the impact. The same studies show that those who rear end other drivers vastly underestimate their own speed. If you are asked to estimate speed of any car, you should also be asked what the basis for the estimate is.

TIP: You should be able to see what the x-rays show for your self.

6. Not all chiropractors take x-rays. Many of the best now send patients who need x-rays out to state of the art centers with highly trained radiologists. If they do take x-rays, ask to see your x-rays. If you can’t actually see the bones clearly the x-rays are of little use and are a waste of your money. Beware the doctor who points to the x-ray and tells you you have serious spinal damage but does not refer you out for special studies. This is often a marketing ploy.

TIP: Avoid attempts to manipulate your fears.

7. Beware of attempts to make you fear that your injuries will result in death if not treated chiropractically. There is no evidence that subluxations cause death. God probably did not send you to the chiropractor to save you from a life threatening condition in your spine. That is another cynical marketing ploy.

TIP: Chiropractors should work with other specialists.

8. Ask, “do you refer to and receive referrals from medical doctors”? Ask for names. If you are told “NO” find another doctor.

TIP: Don’t be sucked into a treatment plan designed to enrich the doctor not to help you recover from your personal injury.

9. Beware of the “treatment plan” contract. Any treatment plan that predicts more than 4-8 weeks of treatment at a time is suspect. Proper treatment protocol requires re-evaluations regularly and adjustment of treatment accordingly. If you are asked to sign a contract for a specific treatment plan leave the office and don’t look back. Read any treatment plan carefully. We are now seeing plans that include $70 a visit for physical therapy. In one case this was nearly $2,000. The “physical therapy” consists of having the patient sit in a wobble chair for 15 minutes while waiting to see the doctor. While that is creative use of time in the waiting room it is not a good use of your money.

TIP: This is a business transaction for your health, avoid having your beliefs used against you.

10. Beware of “the Lord sent you to me” and similar schemes that prey on your religious beliefs or fears for your health. There are practice building “gurus” who actually teach doctors to join churches and to use group identity, guilt and fear to get patients and keep them coming back. If the treatment is doing no good quit going and find a new doctor.

TIP: Avoid programs designed to sell services to your family and scare your spouse or children into thinking you need a great deal of care.

11. If you are told you have to bring your spouse or children, to a lecture hosted by the doctor, before you can become a patient, be very cautious. This is  a sales tactic used to instill fear in you and your family to induce you to seek treatment.

TIP: Use common sense, you know your body.

12. Don’t continue to treat if you have ongoing pain, severe pain or numbness in an arm or leg, severe headache or poor results unless you have been referred to a specialist. If you are not given a referral go see a M.D. If you think your treatment is “too much” it probably is. Good Chiropractors have no qualms about referring you outside their specialty area.

TIP: Ensure the doctor is not in it just for the PIP, demand to see your bills.

13. We find many doctors treat until a miraculous cure occurs. This invariably occurs right after the personal injury protection coverage runs out. Many of these clinics have a program designed to produce $10,000 in bills in less than 4 months. Patients are then adrift, often with no more medical coverage and possibly even being dunned to pay the extra over and above the PIP. Most of the time these patients report little or nothing by way of results.

TIP: Keep your eye on the ball.

14. Ask to see your chart notes. If there are only a few scribbles, that you can’t read or understand, don’t expect an insurance adjuster to put much credence in anything else the doctor provides. Worse yet, many charting programs “default” in a way that makes your recovery seem much better than you feel it is. Make sure you agree with the chart. Make sure you agree with what the doctor is saying about you. Are you really getting better with each treatment or are you getting worse?

TIP: Make sure the doctor is interested in what you have to say.

15. Don’t treat with a doctor who does not talk to you. Every visit should include at least a few minutes with the doctor to discuss your progress and symptoms. If you are simply handed a short form to fill out and placed in a room where the doctor, or an associate, pops in, pops your back and pops out, you are in a practice scheme designed to maximize profit, not results.

TIP: Don’t let the pip become exhausted before you seek alternative treatment.

16. If you need outside referrals having something left in your PIP account is essential. Watch your bills. Keep an eye on the bills. A common scheme involves sending bills only to the insurance company, not to the patient. Coincidentally in some practices the treatment plan and bills result in a miraculous cure when the cost hits the Washington or Oregon statutory Personal Injury Protection medical payment limit. Often the patient still has significant problems but now has no money for further treatment and owes a balance to the chiropractor.

Don’t Get Cheated out of Your Totalled Car, Three Hints.

When your car is damaged or destroyed in a motor vehicle collision that is not your fault, last thing you need is to get cheated on the replacement. The following information should help protect you from loss on your rental and your car.

Rule #1. At least half of what the other person’s insurance company tells won’t be true.

RENTAL CARS

Accident victims are entitled to compensation for all losses caused by the auto accident. This includes “loss of use” of your car. This is measured by the value of the use of your vehicle, not something less. You can’t up grade to a luxury model unless you pay the value difference but the auto insurance company cannot force you to downgrade either. You are entitled to fair compensation for what you actually lose.

In each of these recent cases the insurance company’s insured negligently caused the total loss of the accident victim’s vehicle. In each case the auto accident victim was told that the auto insurer was responsible only for rental of a $25 per day sub-compact rather than the full sized vehicle that was destroyed. The car crash victim was told they had to pay to “upgrade” to the car they were entitled to! This is not true. If you encounter this type of tactic call an experienced Vancouver Washington personal injury and car crash attorney.

Total Loss Valuation

As personal injury attorneys we see a lot of tactics designed to minimize the amount a person injured in a car crash recovers. One tactic is using dealer pricing of trade in vehicles. The most common however are computerized valuations. These valuations do not actually value your car. They value a theoretical “average” car based on numerous vehicles that are allegedly for sale or have allegedly sold for specific prices.

In such a total loss valuation performed by the insurance company for the negligent driver I found the same significant “errors” had been used to downgrade the amount paid for the injured driver’s car. Comparison vehicles were misidentified as to year and options. Options the loss vehicle had were ignored. Further scrutiny of the valuation showed more serious deficiencies.

We requested copies of everything the negligent driver’s insurance company used to value the damaged vehicles. I then began making calls to the automobile dealers listed to make sure the comparison vehicles really are comparable. What I found made me question the entire total loss valuation process.

Hint: Demand the valuation documents, all of them.

You will get a report many pages long. There will be anywhere from a half dozen to a dozen or more “comparable” cars. The most obvious question is “Why do you need to “compare” 15 vehicles when you have 3 or 4 that are almost EXACTLY the same as my car?” The reason is that using a lot of “comparable sales” drags the average value down. This is particularly true because the computer program “devalues” the cars being used as “comparable” then devalues your car on the basis of the devalued cars. If you have an average or below average car, the system might be OK but if you have a newer car or one with low miles, your car will be under valued.

Hint: Do your own research into the value of your car, two very similar cars are a better measure of value than 15 mismatches.

On the valuation you will see the source of valuations reported. Telephone calls to the dealers who had allegedly quoted “take prices” produced interesting results. In one case the person quoted had no authority to set a price, he could only convey offers. In the second case I learned that the vehicle had already been sold for more than the alleged “take price”. Check craigslist.org, auto trader and other sales sources.

Hint: Research the autos used to produce the valuation.

Review the “comparable” cars and look for “outliers”. These are cars that sold for way below what similar cars sold for. To drag the price down these “fire sale” cars are left in the appraisal. The alleged sale price is not adjusted up to reflect desperation sales or other factors. Only cars sold in a bona fide transaction should be counted. The definition is: ” an arms length transaction between a willing buyer who does not have to buy and a willing seller who does not have to sell.” Outliers have no business in the valuation process.

BONUS HINT: I often hear from people who have been told that the adjuster can’t consider comparable cars outside the valuation the insurance company came up with. That is not true. Ask to speak to a supervisor if this trick is pulled on you.

BONUS BONUS: The best comparable sale is your purchase of your car. If you recently purchased he car in a bona fide transaction that is as good a valuation as can be found, demand it be considered particularly if you improved the car after you bought it.

Valuation methods like “CCC” and “Autosource” rely on a valuation method that does not actually appraise your car. It appraises a mythical vehicle. If they really wanted to value your vehicle they would find two or three very similar vehicles, they would not search high and low for as many vehicles of the approximate year, make and model as they can, toss out those they think sold for too much and then run an average.