Were you injured in a collision? Do you want to file a personal injury case to get the highest compensation possible? It all starts with what you do right after the accident. If you’re not severely injured, you should exchange information with the other party involved in the accident, call the police to take a report and go straight to seek medical care.
For medical care, you have two options: the emergency room or an urgent care clinic. Which should you choose? It depends on the severity of your injuries. You should seek urgent care when there’s no threat to life or loss of body parts. You’ll get the same treatment as an ER but faster. Sometimes even better for a lot less than the massive bill you’ll accumulate at an ER before your case starts.
And when your case eventually settles, the least likely party to resolve or reduce any of their bills would be the local hospital. The hospital gives you three to four bills. One for the hospital, physician services, a particular bill for the ER, and another for radiographs or any X-rays done. Plus your ambulance bill to the hospital.
So you can see how these bills can quickly accumulate by just making one wrong decision about where to get treated after an accident? There’s also the issue of failing to continue to show up for treatment because you no longer feel pain, thereby disrupting the healing process and leaving gaps in treatment that undermine your case. And that’s just another one of the many ways you can damage your injury claim.
Learn more in this episode of the David vs. Goliath podcast with elite personal injury lawyer Matt Dolman and his guest, Dr. Fred Williams. They discuss what to do after an accident, how choosing the wrong place for medical attention can devalue your case, why you should follow the physician’s orders, and the behavior or any conduct that will destroy a case.
In this episode:
- [00:49] Matt Dolman welcomes his guest, Dr. Fred Williams, and the topic of the day: protecting the value of your injury case
- [01:36] Where to seek treatment after an accident
- [03:46] Why is going to the hospital’s emergency room (ER) a bad idea when you don’t have to?
- [04:07] How going to an ER may reduce the value of your case
- [07:14] Why going to an urgent care clinic after an accident is in your best interest
- [09:02] Common mistakes that could ruin your injury case
- [12:03] How insurance carriers try to discredit your injury claim
- [14:04] What you can and can’t do when receiving ongoing treatment
- [17:20] Put yourself in the best light
Welcome to the latest Dolman Law Group podcast. I’m here with Dr. Fred Williams from Kingdom Chiropractic. Fred, say hello to the audience.
Hey, man. Thanks for having me.
My pleasure. We’ve done these a few times now. Today’s topic is going to be: How can I maximize my personal injury case? What can I do to screw it up? And what should I do after an accident? All right, that’s the theme. You want to go with it?
Yeah. That sounds great. Those are all very common things that people ask that we see really every day. So what should you do after an accident? Good question.
Call Dolman Law Group, of course. You hear these jingles from these telemarketers on the radio, but guess what, if you need a good lawyer, call a good lawyer. You don’t need a middle man to help you find that. Right?
Yeah. The lawyer referral services of the world, some which I can’t name, but you know the gist. So after an accident, what do you do? What’s the first step?
Okay. So assuming you already exchanged information, the police come out and do the report and you get that. First things first when you’re in an accident, check and make sure you’re safe. Right? Don’t get out of the car. Check on your passengers. Right? Don’t put yourself in even more danger by jumping out of your car if you’re on the highway and it’s nighttime. So safety first always. Once that part of the thing is over with, folks will say, “Do I need to go to the ER? Or should I go to urgent care? What do we do?” Those are all really good questions.
I always suggest urgent care.
Yeah, and that’s good.
They can do the same thing they can do in the ER.
Absent you having a catastrophic very serious injury, go to the ER. But if it’s some scrapes, bruises, and I’m not trying to demean that at all, if you’re feeling some soreness in your neck or back, that could turn out to be something very significant over time, but if your life is not a threat, if no parts of your body, if no limbs are a threat, what you want to do at that point is obviously, I’d go to the urgent care because you can get taken care of in 20 minutes as opposed to sitting for hours at the emergency room.
I agree. Now anyone that’s ever been to the hospital for anything, you know if your arm isn’t hanging off, or your eyeballs hanging out, you’re going to wait a few hours to be seen no matter what.
Yeah. And don’t fall for that when they have those billboards said wait times are only five minutes. They’re going to put you into another area where you’re basically triaged. You’re sitting there forever until the doctor comes in. So yeah, they’ll move you into a room, or they’ll move you into a general room, like an assembly line. But no one’s seeing you for quite a while. Maybe the nurse will take a vital on you. Other than that, you’re sitting around.
Yeah. You’ll see the nurse. Next up will be the financial care representative, make sure you have money to pay for this because they’ve got to make sure they’re getting paid. So after they check everything and make sure they’re going to get paid, then you’ll see a doctor, although you may think you’re seeing a doctor, most of the times what you’re seeing is the nurse practitioner, so you’re not seeing a doctor. Why, Dr. Fred, are we seeing nurse practitioners? The hospital is a for profit institution, so guess what, it’s a lot less expensive for them to hire nurse practitioner to see their patients in not emergency type of settings, as opposed to paying the salary of a doctor to see you, so that’s what’s happening.
Yeah, so less doctors, you have probably one physician on call, especially late night. And that physician is there for the catastrophic, very serious injuries to attend to that, while nurses deal with pretty much everybody else who’s being triaged.
That’s why I think the hospital is generally a disaster. Plus, the bills.
Oh, the bills, so to get the same services that you get in an ER versus urgent care, it’s astronomically, exponentially much higher. Actually, when someone comes to our clinic after being in the ER, it’s not uncommon to see bills from $5000 in excess of $10,000.
I’ve seen 20.
One game that they play generally at the hospital is, and these are certain hospitals, not all, but a certain group of hospitals owned by specific network that I won’t get into, HCA, but what you’ll often see is the same bills redundancy. No matter what the injury is, you’re going to see a cervical spine radiograph, usually an X-ray, X-rays of the back, X-rays of the shoulder, head X-ray, usually a CT scan of the head as well, chest X-rays, even though the individual just has one injury and it’s in their neck, or they have a headache, or some tension in their arms. They’re checking the whole body because they could run up $8000, $10,000 quickly in PIP. Or if there’s no PIP coverage, they’re running up a huge bill to start the case before any other medical providers are involved, now you’re upside down in your case.
Upside down on your case. So what that means is the treating physician, the folks that are actually going to help you recover and get better have less funds available to give you those services, so it behooves you to do your research or listen to this podcast and know that we don’t get any endorsements from the urgent cares, but we do know this. They can get you in faster. The bills are going to be a lot less money than an ER. It’s very, very reasonable. And they can do a lot of the same services. So we actually both recommend going to the urgent care versus a hospital.
And usually, there is a physician there at the urgent care center, and there’s about a 20th of the volume, so that doctor usually will make time to see you.
You’re going to see a nurse or a practitioner, but you’re going to eventually see the physician.
I’ve been there for a number of different reasons throughout the years, generally because I’m an idiot. But cuts, I put my face in front of a puppy once, that was my puppy. He was under the bed and he just nipped at my face. I went there for that. I got bed bugs on a cruise, went to the urgent care. So you can go to the urgent care and pretty much treat a myriad of injuries, and it’s cheap and it’s quick.
And I’ve also noticed this, I don’t know if you have seen this, but the hospital systems we referred to earlier are now putting out their own urgent cares because they realize that people are getting wise to the long hassles of the ER, and so now the hospitals have said, “Hey, we’re losing out on some of this population,” so now they’re putting out their own urgent cares to recapture that market share.
Yeah. I’ve seen them. I saw one recently on Gulf to Bay here in Clearwater, which I think it’s owned by Largo Medical, or I can’t remember which hospital it is, local one has their own little urgent care where they triage people up.
And I probably avoid those. Although it’s still an urgent care, it’s better than the hospital, but the bills are probably going to be insane. Hospitals just seem to be driven by profit, not that urgent cares aren’t, they’re a business as well. But it just seems to excessive, so egregious.
Exactly. It’s amazing that the hospitals can charge so much. If every other business operated like that, I think the only time we’ve seen that was when we had these oil shortages and those gas stations were gouging folks. And we’ve seen these stories all over the news. That’s sort of what happens when you go into an ER.
Yeah, they have you. There’s nothing you can do.
You need them. A typical supply, demand.
And you have unequal bargaining power. And they’re going to hold it over your head and wring you out for every dollar you’re worth.
Correct. You could probably speak to this point more though. So when it comes to the end of the case and all the bills are being settled, the least likely party to settle or reduce any of their bills would be the local hospital.
Yeah. What most people do not realize, the urgent care you’re generally getting one bill. With the hospital, you’re getting three to four bills. You’re getting a bill from the hospital, a bill from the physician services that treat at the hospital. They work for an independent contractor, they’re a different company itself, or rather, they’re independent contractors of a different company. You’re probably going to pay a special bill for the ER and another bill also for radiographs, any type of X-rays are done, which is generally going to be another company itself. So you’re generally receiving three to four bills from the hospital.
And not to mention your Uber in the ambulance to the hospital. They’re going to give you a bill too.
Oh, yeah. And Pinellas County, it’s Sunstar, and it’s usually a $600 ride.
Correct. So you can see how these bills can quickly accumulate by just making one bad decision.
Don’t take an ambulance unless it’s a very serious injury and you need to be seen right away, and your life is in jeopardy, or a limb is.
Or you can’t go there on your own, or cognizant. If you can go there on your own power, your own volition, or if somebody can take you there, and it’s not overly urgent, you’re not going to die if you don’t get there in the next hour or two, go to the urgent care, or go to the hospital if you have to go to the hospital, but have somebody drive you there.
Correct. So listen to shows like this, with prior proper knowledge, you can prevent poor performance in the future. So we are arming you guys with the tools necessary to know what to do in those horrific incidents, or it’s very scary. Right? So you’ve got all kind of thoughts rolling through your head. So that’s why we give you the proper steps to take so it becomes second nature if that does happen to you or a loved one to know what to do after an accident.
Fair enough. Let’s segue into another topic. What can a patient do in your case? And I can tell you what a client can do to kill their case, to destroy any potential claim they may have, and to kind of be an impediment to the medical treatment, and so they don’t get better.
Right. So common things we see or common things we hear from folks, when people first come in, they’re in terrible pain. Right? Our physicians are such that they get out of the pain pretty quickly, so after a couple of weeks, a month or so, they think they’re, quotations, fixed. But we know that these injuries take some time to heal. And oftentimes what folks would do is just say, “Hey, I’m fixed. I have no pain. I have no symptoms. I feel better than I did when I came in. I don’t need to go back anymore.” And we say, “Yes, ma’am. Yes, sir. You absolutely need to do because these injuries take some time to heal.” And that’s what we do. We try to do a really good job explaining the whole process and the timeline for the injuries to heal. We’ll say, “Listen, ma’am. You’re going to feel really good after this first visit. But understand that healing is a process. Healing takes time and repetition, just like going to the gym.”
And in my case, the gaps in treatment, which obviously in your case hurts them from a medical standpoint, they never see full resolution of their pain, they see a little bit of resolution, a little bit of alleviation, they feel a bit better, but not quite there, and they just skip out. In my case, it destroys and undermines the very value of their case, if you were so injured you’d be showing up consistently for treatment.
The insurance … I didn’t mean to cut you off.
The defense lawyer or the insurance adjuster can’t tell about your subjective complaints if you’re not showing up anywhere, and you have objected medical documentation. Because you feel like you’re in pain, you’re telling me you’re in pain does not mean anything. It doesn’t add up to a cent until you’re actually documenting that medically with physicians.
Correct. An insurance company, they’re looking at it like, “Mr. Johnson, if you’re so hurt, you’re so injured, why are you taking these big gaps in treatment?” Now we understand life happens. We get it. Someone dies, you had a vacation plan, that’s normal. We can explain that in our notes in our reports. But if you’re just missing because it’s raining, or your kid’s sick, or whatever the case is, guess what, you make that a consistent habit, you can just say what’s most of the time and say, “Listen, you’re going to destroy your case on the legal side. And two, you’re never going to get better because you’re not here to be treated so we can get you better.”
Yeah. And even those gaps, if you have the gaps, they can be somewhat alleviated or cured by getting back in for consistent treatment. But it’s still an issue, and what it does is it raises the stink of personal injury lawyer. And what I mean by that is it doesn’t seem like it’s organic that these individuals are showing up for a specific reason, which is they’re in pain. It looks like the person fell off the map, and their lawyer or doctor called them and has a financial incentive for them to go back in. It sells a story, or at least allows them to sell the story that it’s not legitimate. It’s a lot of BS.
You probably take this for granted in most consumers or perspective injury victims do not know this, but you’re guilty until proven innocent as a victim in this state. You’re considered to be fraudulent or have a claim that could’ve been resolved in four to six weeks of treatment and you’re still ongoing. That’s how the insurance company looks at every single soft tissue case. You look at it as if you’re committing fraud until they realize that they eventually have to pay out in a claim. They have a dubious, skeptical opinion of every single injury victim. Don’t give them any ammunition.
No, absolutely. That’s really good you say that because unfortunately in this industry, in this segment of law and medical practice, it has been a lot of folks in the past that have done things that weren’t correct. So the insurance company’s already looking through a squinted eye to send out anyone that may be practicing that way. So if you do not follow the physician’s order with your treatment plan, what typically will happen is the insurance company will call you, or their hired physician will call you. And they’ll invite you in for an exam, which is known as an IME, independent medical examination.
They’re hardly independent.
If those individuals were actually giving objective opinions on a regular basis, the insurance company would not keep hiring.
Correct. So you’ve got to understand these doctors work for the insurance company, so it’s in their best interest to, these reports will come out the way the insurance companies would like. So 99% of the time when someone goes in for an IME, the physician right away is very cordial, very friendly. But when that report comes over to the physicians and comes to the lawyer, surprise, surprise, they’re not injured, cut off treatment, no more benefits available. Doesn’t mean there’s no benefits available. That’s that one physician’s opinion. We still go forward with the case. We have to do more things behind the scene. But that report really is not worth anything.
In and of itself, no, it’s going to cut off benefits possibly. But will it destroy your case? No, unless you’ve given the insurance company a reason to destroy your case, which is inconsistent treatment coupled with the IME. They say you’re not very injured, and proof’s in the pudding, you don’t have any objected medical documentation, or at least consistent objected medical documentation to counter that argument.
That’s when your case sinks.
Yeah. And so the small soft tissue type cases, that’s why it’s good, like in our clinics we use a procedure looking at the radiographs to determine ligament laxity, which can prove a soft tissue injury of the spinal ligaments.
Understood. What else can you tell us about the clients’ behavior, or any conduct that will destroy a case?
Yeah, some funny things, folks will say, “Hey, can I go on vacation?” Sure, if you’re going to your hometown, whatever, but if you’re planning on jumping out of a plane or jumping out of the Grand Canyon, probably not a good idea. So keep in mind that insurance companies, when they’re paying out money or potentially paying out money, they’re paying attention to every detail, including you.
Social media. So if you’re out celebrating somewhere, but you’re supposed to have vertigo and extreme pain and you can’t work, that looks a little bit inconsistent. So they do pay attention to that sort of thing.
All the time.
Follow you around even, hire investigators because this is a big business, and some people take advantage of it. So if you’re hurt, you’re truly hurt, you’re doing the right things, just be cognizant of that.
Be well aware. In any case where a lawsuit if filed, they’re going to access your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus and any others, you have Tumblr, they’re going to look at that, as well as Instagram. So your social media accounts are going to be scrutinized. What you need to worry about there is surveillance is a double edged sword, so it also seems like an intrusion into your private life. And the jury sometimes penalizes the insurance companies for that.
The counter though is the kicker, even benign activities, even activities that you can do in pain, if you’re having a fun time at a ball game and there’s a big smile on your face, you’re posting it to Facebook and you’re about to have a fusion surgery, or you already had it, and you’re post fusion, yes, we know you can go to a game. But it’s that scene where you’re smiling and having a great time and they can put that in front of the jury and say, “Does this individual look like they have such a problem?” Those four individuals on the jury who have back pain and neck pain, they’re not receiving compensation, but they’re taking off from work. It’s just that it’s the best way of saying it is the optics. The optics often don’t look good.
They’re not expecting you to be somber either, but I would just stay off social media other than maybe commenting about some political views, or sharing with people the milestones in your family, but I would stay off the taking pictures of yourself. It’s not the egregious acts I’m talking about because those are obvious. Clearly, don’t sky dive. Clearly, don’t jump into a pool, or bench press excessive weight, or participate in some sport, and you’re claiming that you’re very injured, or you just had surgery for it. But in another breath, what they’re really going to look at and scrutinize is that war of the optics. What does it look like? Does it look like you’re having too much fun, or life is just dandy? Yet, you’re going through this catastrophic personal injury claim and you’re saying that this has hampered your future ability to earn money, and it’s going to affect you in an ongoing manner, they’re going to look at that.
Absolutely. The old saying is perception is reality, so just be cognizant, there’s always eyes. We’re living in a social media, instant access, instant news era. So always be aware of that. So if you want to protect your case, if that’s what your goal is, your goal is to have a good settlement at the end, do that. If your goal is to get better and recover from your injuries, follow physician orders.
And those aren’t mutually exclusive. You can want both.
Your desire should always be to get better first.
But if there’s a claim to be had, avoid the conduct that can really undermine your claim. Money comes and goes, your health doesn’t. The same point, don’t do anything to undermine your claim. Stay off social media. I can’t tell you how many times that has backfired in cases that we litigated at our office. This week, we’ve had an issue, so avoid it, those Facebook pictures will come into evidence.
Or they’ll make their very damnedest attempt to get it in.
Right. So put yourself in the best light. You pay insurance, you pay every month, and that’s your right. I mean, you’re entitled to that, and that’s why you pay for that coverage. So you’ve suffered physically, mentally, psychologically, and that’s your right. And you deserve that, so sometimes the insurance companies try to make you feel as if that’s not the case, that you shouldn’t do that, and sometimes they’re trying to sneak in and give you a small offer, and then so that’s why it’s good to have good legal representation, so you don’t get take advantage of.
You got to remember that’s the insurance carrier’s job. Their job is to save money to pay off shareholders dividends. Obviously, their job is not to pay out every single claim. And they’re there to also mitigate the damages on real reasonable claims, claims that truly do have value, their one job is to mitigate, to lessen the damage that the insurance company’s going to sustain or suffer. So they’re never on your side. You think the insurance company’s on your side, they’re not. They’re going to say the lawyers are scum, but the truth is that it’s the carriers that are. They’re a necessary evil. You do need insurance, but at the same point, they’re there to take advantage of the policy holders, for the most part. There’s a couple really good carriers out there, but even then, they’re just good because the other ones are so terrible. I don’t know if they’re good on their own merit. But I think we pretty much covered the areas that are … I could sit here for a few hours and discuss every last mistake clients make, but these are the-
Yeah, the overarching theme is: What can you do to avoid a problem in your case? And what should you do after a car accident? I think we covered that pretty well today.
I agree with you.
Thanks, Dr. Fred Williams, for coming on.
Dr. Fred is the president of Kingdom Chiropractic. Explain to our viewers how they can get ahold of you.
Okay, yeah. So we’re at kingdomchiropractic.com. Also, Facebook, Instagram. We have locations throughout the Tampa Bay area, so you can go on the website and look up the locations tab. It’ll give you a little insight about each of our locations. We’re here to serve you. The easiest way, one of the most common ways folks can get ahold of us is if you’re in a wreck and you need a check, don’t waste time. Call 1-844-FL-SPINE. One call, that’s all.
Yeah. I don’t have a jingle. If you get into a car wreck, call Dolman Law Group.
There you go.
727-451-6900. We have offices in Clearwater, St. Petersburg, New Port Richey, Sarasota, as well as South Florida in Doral, North Miami Beach, Aventura, Fort Lauderdale, and Boca Raton. Thank you for listening. I appreciate Fred coming out today.
Thank you for having me.
Have a great day.
💡 Meet Your Host 💡
Title: Partner at Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
Specialty: Matt is a nationally recognized insurance and personal injury attorney and focuses much of his practice on the litigation of catastrophic injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida.
💡 Featured Guest 💡
Name Dr. Fred Williams
Title: Clinic Director at Kingdom Chiropractic
Specialty: Dr. Williams is a passionate and compassionate health care provider who empowers communities with the gift of improved health through chiropractic. He provides affordable state-of-the-art chiropractic care for people of all walks of life.
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The insights and views presented in “David vs. Goliath” are for general information purposes only and should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information presented is not a substitute for consulting with an attorney. Nor does tuning in to this podcast constitute an attorney-client relationship of any kind. Any case result information provided on any portion of this podcast should not be understood as a promise of any particular result in a future case. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers: Big firm results, small firm personal attention.