You are injured from an accident. You are pursuing a claim for damages or compensation. Suddenly, the insurance carrier wants you to see its doctor for an examination. If your case involves a car accident or work comp claim, you may face this request. Sometimes, the insurance carrier even calls its request an “independent medical exam.” Yet, these exams are neither independent nor fair.
Before I talk about the biased insurance company doctor, let me say that these biased doctors are small in number. Lawyers who frequently prepare and try cases will tell you they see the same few bad ones repeatedly. Doctors are like any other profession. Almost all of them are dedicated to serving their patients. The same rule applies to lawyers, accountants, and any other professional. But, a few bad apples exist.
With lawyers, the bad apples are those settlement mill lawyers making promises while refusing to do the work really needed to help clients. When it comes to automobile accident, workers’ compensation or disability claims, we see a few doctors who seemingly make their living issuing misleading reports so claims can be denied. In both the legal and medical professions, the bad ones want to make money pushing paper instead of getting to the heart of their clients’ stories and losses. One sure sign of biased doctors is that many of them have little or no medical practice outside insurance company evaluations. Good doctors actually treat patients. Good doctors don’t make their living generating claims reports.
When I think about biased insurance company doctors, I always think about one of my first workers’ compensation cases many years ago. I represented a great guy who had suffered a horrible back injury at work in Huntsville. The medical specialist who performed surgery on my client testified he could not return to work. Two other doctors who had treated his injuries also testified he could not return to work. The insurance company should have paid him without a trial. Instead, the insurance company chose to hire a doctor to provide an “independent” opinion that my client (the same one supported by all his treating doctors) was a faker. Ridiculous! On cross-examination, I got this biased doctor to admit he earned almost all his income generating insurance company reports and spent less than 5 minutes “examining” my client. We won the case at trial.
Since that early case, I’ve seen plenty of these biased experts who earn their living providing misleading opinions rather than genuine medical care. When it comes to the usual suspects in Alabama, I have collected quite a dossier of orders and transcripts showing their unjust bias. This dossier is quite handy in some cases.
If you are hurt, an insurance company medical expert can really devastate your claim. That’s the insurance company’s goal. If the insurance company is seeking an “opinion” from one of its doctors, what legal help should you seek?
- You need an attorney with understanding of Alabama law related to insurance doctors and examinations.
Why is this important? It’s important for this reason — In many situations, Alabama law does NOT require you to submit to a so-called “independent” examination by a biased insurance company doctor. Lawyers who regularly go to trial in workers’ compensation and car accident claims know this.
- You need an attorney with knowledge of the doctors in your community.
This means a lawyer who really handles personal injury cases, not one who begs for calls from a billboard. Lawyers who regularly prepare cases for court have significant experience with local physicians. They know which doctors treat patients professionally. They also know the “experts” who regularly appear for insurance companies. In our practice, we regularly depose doctors in Huntsville, Birmingham and across the state.
- You need an attorney with experience cross-examining biased insurance experts.
A biased insurance expert knows the words to type into a report. His or her goal? Create doubt about you or your injury. Why? So the insurance company can pay less (or pay nothing at all). An attorney skilled in medical information and cross-examination is necessary to expose biased experts.
- You need an attorney with dedication to advise clients throughout the medical process.
Across Alabama, many billboard lawyers want the easy (but usually low) settlement. They want to sign clients for quick settlements or quick referrals. These settlement mill lawyers are unwilling to advise clients throughout the whole medical and healing process. However, this advice is often essential to preparing a case for its fullest potential.
If you have suffered a serious personal injury, the insurance company knows the best way to diminish or defeat your claim is to create doubt. That’s exactly why insurance companies pay for biased medical reports. Don’t let the insurance company take advantage of you.