You suffer a car accident. A few days later you get a call. It’s a chiropractor. That’s right. A chiropractor you’ve never met is now calling you. He asks if you are hurt. He suggests you schedule an appointment. If you are not hurt, he may still offer to help. If you show any interest, he suddenly suggests a specific lawyer.
One moment you are sitting in your den. The very next moment you have a strange chiropractor and strange lawyer ready to “work” your case. What started as a personal injury scam in other states has now made its way to Alabama.
Let me just stop at this point and tell you the obvious. This is a scam to enrich the chiropractor and lawyer at your expense. Ethical lawyers don’t call you out of the blue. Good trial lawyers don’t chase ambulances or make deals with chiropractors to chase cases. When your case is done, the ambulance chasing chiropractor and lawyer will walk away with the bulk of your settlement. Don’t think I’m criticizing all chiropractors. I’m certainly not. I’m only criticizing those lawyers and those chiropractors who engage in this bad behavior.
Earlier this year, I received a call from a gentleman hurt in a car wreck. He hired a well known Alabama television and billboard lawyer who used this trick to sign clients. Why was he calling me if he already had a lawyer? He was upset. The chiropractor had run up huge charges based on very questionable treatment. Then, he learned that the at-fault driver only had minimum liability coverage of $25,000. He was genuinely hurt in the wreck. He went to the hospital and had a significant bill for that care. His case, before the chiropractor / lawyer duo became involved, was already worth all the available coverage. Why incur more needless charges? Now, the lawyer was telling him his settlement money would pay the chiropractor for “questionable” treatment instead of going into the hurt man’s pocket. Why did the lawyer not explain the process at the beginning so the client could choose a different option?
A bad Google review for a different billboard lawyer in Huntsville makes the same point – when the case was done the chiropractor and lawyer took almost all the money. These ambulance chasers put the interest of their clients last.
When I’m talking with someone who calls our office after an injury, they will often tell me their cell phone has been ringing “off the hook” with calls from chiropractors, investigators or lawyers. Years ago, a Huntsville DUI lawyer would access arrest reports and send letters to people fishing to be their criminal defense attorney. The same guy now has billboards angling for all types of cases. These tactics may be legal but they are a terrible blight upon the legal profession and courts.
This chiropractor “scam” hurts injured people in many ways. Here are six:
- Insurance companies know the scam artists and value these claims LOWER. Want to settle your injury case? Insurance companies know the settlement mill lawyers. Insurance companies also know the “medical professionals” who run up huge and unjustified bills. This makes a big difference. The insurance company will certainly place a low value on these manufactured bills. The insurance company will also place a low value on the lawyer with no courtroom history.
- In low limits cases, the injured person gets little or nothing out of his case. Alabama law only requires drivers to carry minimum liability coverage. In these cases, the chiropractor / lawyer duo often take all or most of the money.
- Your real injuries may be ignored. You hire one of these chiropractor / lawyer teams. You go to the chiropractor. You tell him your neck hurts a little from the wreck but your knee hurts a lot. You are even having trouble walking due to the knee injury. Instead of treating your knee, the chiropractor sees you countless times for your neck. In the end, you face a big medical bill for your neck. And, you received no treatment for your serious injury – the knee.
- Your lawyer fails to negotiate your medical bills / liens. When you signed up with the chiropractor, he probably made you sign a lien or “letter of protection” giving him the right to FULL payment for his inflated bills. Do you think your new lawyer will try to negotiate those charges downward to put more money in your pocket from any settlement? The chiropractor and lawyer are partners in this business arrangement. They are not looking out for you. A good lawyer in a car wreck case will try to negotiate medical liens downward. That way, you keep more of your settlement money.
- Your case is not prepared for trial. Do you think the settlement mill lawyer is preparing your case for trial? No. He has no intention to pursue justice in court. Plus, it’s doubtful your new “chiropractor” could ever convince a jury his treatment or charges were legitimate. If your case does not settle and you are left looking for another lawyer, it may be difficult for any new lawyer to overcome the issues created.
- Genuinely hurt people suffer because of bias. These bad actors diminish the integrity of the legal system. They make valid cases harder to win. They create a negative bias in jurors that impacts everyone in the community.
If you are hurt in a car or truck crash, don’t fall for these ambulance chasers. Take your time. Focus on healing. Research and discuss your legal options before making any decision.
At the Blackwell Law Firm, we specialize in personal injury cases. Our philosophy is to prepare every single case as if it is going to trial. We believe this preparation makes a huge difference for our clients.