Friday, April 6, 2012

What Bicycle Injury Victims Should Know About Chiropractic Care

Chiropractors are not good for your personal injury case.  Excessive amounts of care received by these "spinal adjustment specialists," or from other practitioners of alternative health care (acupuncturists, naprapaths, etc.), tends to by viewed with derision by insurance companies and juries alike in my experience.  Short periods of such care may be tolerated, but a diagnosis or treatment from these non-medical doctors will offer no substantive evidence of an injury deserving of monetary compensation.  Too much such care -- or an injury treated only with chiropractic care -- will be used by the defense to prove that no significant injury was suffered.  The bottom line is that a "real injury" should be treated by a "real physician" licensed by his or her state to prescribe drugs and perform surgery.  Chiropractors are not licensed medical doctors.  They do not receive training via the rigors of medical school and post-graduation residency like medical doctors.   In Illinois, a chiropractic license only permits one to practice chiropractic medicine only.  Under the Illinois Medical Practice Act a chiropractor is defined:

"Chiropractic physician" means a person licensed to treat human ailments without the use of drugs and without operative surgery. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to prohibit a chiropractic physician from providing advice regarding the use of non-prescription products or from administering atmospheric oxygen. Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize a chiropractic physician to prescribe drugs.


Aside from the fact that chiropractors are not medical doctors, the relationships many such practitioners aggressively attempt to develop with personal injury attorneys have, over time, fostered a cynical view amongst insurance adjusters.  Insurance companies are very keen to the notion that some attorneys and chiropractors may attempt to "pad" medical bills in order to make a mild injury seem much worse than it really is.  The methodology used by chiropractors to render a diagnosis, as compared to those of licensed medical doctors, tends to be viewed as less rigorous and more subjective.  Thus a chiropractic diagnosis offers less credible support for an injury and its cause.

Chiropractors and practitioners of alternative medicine are not bad people and most believe in what they do.  Furthermore, chiropractors may indeed offer their patients some benefit.  Their manipulations often do seem to make people feel better.  A bit of chiropractic or alternative medicine care, along with traditional medical care, is perfectly fine in the context of a personal injury claim.  However, too much will sink a claim, making a positive outcome by settlement or jury verdict difficult, if not impossible.  The job of the personal injury attorney is not to tell their clients what they want to hear, but what they need to hear.  Clients should be told honestly of the possible negative impact chiropractic care may have of their claims.

3 comments:

  1. This is a great article. Wow, so many of these things I never thought of before. I read posts often, even on this side, and I think it is great, but I make time to leave a comment. From the outset, to ensure more comments.

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  2. I think the author is distorting the issue a bit here. The overriding issue is that many chiropractors are not properly credentialed, and this often leads to perceived incompetence (and rightfully so) to deal in the trauma related cases and to properly refer out when necessary. The issue is not about the care - chiropractic stacks up quite well in comparative studies vs. drugs, surgery, and physical therapy, the issue is about knowledge and how the opposition (juries and insurance companies) views the doctors credentials. I have seen cases where neurologist and orthopedic doctors testimony has not been allowed and based on the chiropractor's credentials, his testimony was allowed. This seemed to make all parties involved (including the lawyer) very happy (i.e. good settlement). Once the author experience this for himself and meets a chiropractor who has the goods (credentials), he will tear down this post.

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