Friday, December 18, 2015

Why Do Personal Injury Clinics Hurt Clients.

            A client’s case recently went bad because of 10 year old medical records from a prior accident showing the same injury.  The client had been involved in a small motor vehicle accident and the medical records were from “The Personal Injury Clinic”  who had a business relationship with the client's lawyer.   While I could not tell whether the Personal Injury Clinic had referred the client to the lawyer or vice versa, they definitely acted together in presenting accident claims not necessarily to the best interests of the accident victim who was their patient/client.  

In part because the client spoke English as a second language, I was able to confirm to my satisfaction that the client did not know about the medical records or appreciate what his lawyer was saying on his behalf.  In the end, this old case had involved small injuries compared to the client’s case with me.   At least in paper records, the lawyer and the clinic had pretended that the small injuries were more serious.  In the end, this destroyed the client's case in my office.     

            This client’s experience is not unique.  Attorneys, chiropractors, physical therapists and others buy lists from police departments of recent motor vehicle accidents.  Whether hurt or not, persons in these accidents are sent solicitation letters promising “no expense” medical treatment and legal representation.   People, particularly people who are not hurt, report this to me and share how they are offended by the aggressiveness of the solicitations.   These businesses are "claims mills" that make money presenting small claims in large volumes. 

People should be wary of clinics and lawyers that solicit business in this way.  The businesses are “accident mills” and are more concerned about maintaining the volume of their business instead of the individual consequences.  Both medical care and claims are presented in an assembly line manner listing the common injuries resulting from accidents, regardless of whether the injuries, in fact, were incurred.  The result is that, like this client of mine, false representations are made that follow the client the rest of his life.   In the end, as in this case harm results to the client should he be unfortunately hurt in a second accident.

This practice highlights a second concern if the motor vehicle accident results in small injuries.  Just because someone has been injured in an accident does not mean they should pursue a claim.  For example, if the injuries are minor, the medical treatment and recovery is routine, and out of pocket expenses have been paid by health or other personal insurance, the benefit of a small recovery can be outweighed by the accident victim being unfairly labelled in a later, more serious accident as being “sue-happy” and seeking “free money” or more seriously being falsely accused of being dishonest about his injuries.   

You have to play your hand smart.  See