Can a Personal Injury Chiropractor Help Your Case? - Hensley Legal Group, PC

Can a Personal Injury Chiropractor Help Your Case?

A serious accident can leave you struggling to cope with significant injuries and bills, but pursuing a personal injury case with a skilled attorney may get you the resources you need to pay for your medical treatment. One type of treatment is chiropractic care, which might be beneficial for certain injuries. Join us as we […]

March 7, 2024

A serious accident can leave you struggling to cope with significant injuries and bills, but pursuing a personal injury case with a skilled attorney may get you the resources you need to pay for your medical treatment. One type of treatment is chiropractic care, which might be beneficial for certain injuries. Join us as we explore how working with a personal injury chiropractor can help you and your case.

The Importance of Getting Medical Treatment After Your Accident

Whether or not you treat with a chiropractor, it is probably worthwhile to get some kind of medical treatment after your accident, even if you are not sure that you were hurt. Some symptoms may emerge only gradually, and prolonged delays in medical care could hinder your ability to heal. Ruling out an injury up front is preferable to dealing with an injury when it has gotten much, much worse. Moreover, gaps in treatment could allow the parties responsible for your injuries and their insurers to cast doubt on whether those injuries are related to the incident in question.

Medical treatment could be available right away from paramedics arriving at the scene of your accident. If your injuries are severe enough, you may be transported in an ambulance to a nearby hospital, where you could be treated in the emergency room or even admitted for an extended stay.

In the absence of paramedics, you may consider going on your own to the emergency room or an urgent care center. The medical personnel at these facilities will conduct an exam to identify any injuries that you may have. Based on those injuries, they might order x-rays, dress wounds, set fractures, dispense drugs, or refer you to a specialist or a primary care physician (PCP) for follow-up treatment.

Your PCP will be one of your key medical providers throughout the recovery process, managing your care, prescribing medications and tests, and potentially directing you to other providers who specialize in your injuries. While you are more than welcome to ask for second opinions and inquire about different types of treatment, the care that you receive should always be prescribed and carried out by authorized medical providers.

That last part is crucial. If you are not a doctor, you are not really equipped to determine the appropriate course of treatment for your injuries. Furthermore, the cost of your treatment may not be covered unless it has been ordered by a designated caregiver, even if you have health insurance. Typically, health insurers will only agree to pay for treatment that they deem “reasonable and necessary,” and you could be stuck holding the bill for anything that does not rise to that standard.

What Medical Treatment Can You Receive?

Medical treatment can take a variety of forms. You could undergo elaborate diagnostic imaging, including MRIs or CT scans. You could work with physicians who concentrate on specific parts of the body, such as an orthopedist for complications with your back or limbs or an ophthalmologist for eye trauma.

Sometimes, surgery may be needed to repair catastrophic damage to your bones, muscles, ligaments, or organs. For other injuries, less invasive treatments may suffice, such as oral or intravenous drugs or a physical therapy regimen.

Among the leading non-invasive treatments for the sorts of musculoskeletal conditions that personal injury plaintiffs often suffer is chiropractic care (or simply “chiropractic”), a discipline that is practiced by certified professionals known as chiropractors.

What Is Chiropractic Care?

Originally developed in the late 19th century as “a science of healing without drugs,” chiropractic care is administered by approximately 60,000 chiropractors across North America in the present day. Chiropractors chiefly diagnose and treat mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially those of the spine. As such, chiropractic treatment may appeal to victims of car accidents, who frequently sustain soft tissue injuries of the back and neck.

Chiropractic care focuses on the management of musculoskeletal impairment without the use of medications or surgery, instead utilizing manual adjustments, therapeutic exercises, and non-invasive techniques to reduce pain, improve mobility, and boost the natural healing processes of the body.

Chiropractors primarily treat back and neck injuries, though some practitioners may address non-musculoskeletal ailments. More extreme injuries, such as those involving fractures, lacerations, and organ damage, would likely be outside of the scope of chiropractic treatment.

Chiropractic care is usually classified as complementary and alternative medicine. A chiropractor is not trained or licensed as a medical doctor (M.D.), though a chiropractic practitioner needs to undergo extensive accredited training before becoming certified as a Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.).

Common Chiropractic Treatment Methods

The most common chiropractic treatment method is spinal manipulation, referred to as “spinal adjustment” or “chiropractic adjustment” by chiropractors. According to the American Chiropractic Association, spinal manipulation is a “passive manual maneuver during which the three-joint complex may be carried beyond the normal voluntary physiological range of movement,” though not far enough to damage or dislocate the joint. This maneuver principally involves the application of a sudden force (or “dynamic thrust”) to increase a joint’s range of motion.

Other chiropractic methods used to treat the spine, joints, and tissues include full-spine manipulation, trigger point therapy, adjustment of the extremities, and ice pack therapy (or cryotherapy).

Additionally, chiropractors may educate their patients about various strategies to reduce pain, increase mobility, and improve overall health, which may include therapeutic and corrective exercises, ergonomic and postural advice, relaxation and stress reduction techniques, dietary and nutritional changes, and guidance in the cessation of unhealthy or high-risk behaviors and the promotion of physical fitness, disease prevention, and self-care.

Chiropractic treatment is designed to correct misalignments in the spine that can contribute to pain, thereby reducing pressure on the nerves and muscles and alleviating pain without medication. On top of pain relief, restoring proper alignment in the spine could heighten overall mobility. Chiropractic adjustments might enhance blood circulation and nervous system function as well, thereby accelerating the body’s ability to heal.

What a Personal Injury Chiropractor Can Do for You

While chiropractic treatment may not be effective at responding to more punishing injuries and illnesses that would be more suited to traditional medicine, chiropractors and their patients insist that it offers a host of advantages.

By correcting the alignment of the spine, chiropractors may target the root causes of pain and discomfort, rather than masking the symptoms of a personal injury. And because chiropractic treatment is non-invasive, patients may be able to avoid the side effects and dangers associated with surgeries and prescription drugs.

Ultimately, chiropractic care could be a valuable component of a multidisciplinary approach to managing the pain and mobility limitations imposed by an accidental injury in collaboration with other healthcare providers, such as physicians and physical therapists. Even so, it may not be an adequate replacement for more invasive methods like surgery when your injuries call for them.

If you are interested in chiropractic treatment, bring the subject up with your primary care physician. Your PCP could weigh the merits of integrating chiropractic care into your treatment plan and perhaps write you a prescription or even recommend a chiropractor by name.

Will Chiropractic Treatment Be Covered?

As stated above, chiropractors are not medical doctors, and chiropractic treatment is generally characterized as alternative medicine. Nevertheless, many health insurance companies may cover the cost of chiropractic care, though that will depend on the particular health insurance plan and the policies of the insurance carrier.

If you have health insurance, you should check to see whether your plan pays for chiropractic treatment at all and, if so, to what extent it will be covered. While some health insurance plans may pay for a wide range of chiropractic services and a large number of visits, others may only cover a small number of visits and a narrow range of chiropractic services.

Even if your health insurance company does offer coverage for chiropractic care, it would be better if you got a prescription from your PCP or another approved provider before you seek the services of a personal injury chiropractor. Insurance carriers can decline to pay for classical medical treatments that they do not consider “reasonable and necessary,” much less chiropractic treatment, which is often viewed as supplemental or secondary.

To avoid incurring more expenditures at a time when you may least be able to afford them, you might want to contact your health insurance provider and ask about its pre-approval procedures. Pre-approval is a process by which an insurer gives prior authorization for medical treatments before you receive them. By getting pre-approval for chiropractic care ahead of your first appointment with a chiropractor, you could spare yourself the stress of getting an unexpected bill that may exceed your means.

How a Personal Injury Chiropractor Can Get Paid Out of a Settlement

Even with health insurance, the out-of-pocket costs of your personal injury treatment could be sizeable, whether or not that care is chiropractic. But if that treatment is not covered by your health insurance plan, or if you do not have health insurance at all, the cost may be too much for you to handle.

If you have found yourself in a situation like this, you may be pleased to learn that you might still be able to receive chiropractic care if your chiropractor is treating you for injuries that form the basis of a personal injury case.

When you are hurt by somebody else’s negligence, a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer acting on your behalf could initiate a claim against the parties at fault. After identifying all potential defendants, your attorney will formally notify them and their liability insurance carriers in writing. A lawsuit could be filed as well in a court that has the power to hear your case and issue a binding judgment on the defendants following a trial, though most personal injury cases are settled out of court during negotiations with the insurance companies and lawyers for the defense. In arriving at a settlement, both sides will look at your damages from the accident, among them the bills for your medical treatment.

But while a personal injury case can compensate you for your losses, it is also an avenue through which your caregivers can get compensated for the medical treatment they provided to you, including your chiropractic care. A chiropractor wishing to receive payment out of your settlement may be able to do so with a medical lien, which is a legal agreement between a patient and a medical provider. After placing a medical lien on your personal injury case, your chiropractor may be willing to defer payment for your treatment, with the expectation that this payment will eventually be taken out of your personal injury verdict or settlement.

After your attorney and your chiropractor have come to a final payment agreement, the chiropractor must officially release the medical lien by filing an executed certificate with the office of the recorder of the county and mailing a copy of the certificate to the Department of Insurance. At that point, your legal obligations to the chiropractor would be complete.

While this may not be an ideal way to meet the cost of chiropractic treatment, it can allow you get the care you need after an accidental injury.

Do Chiropractors Work with Lawyers?

If you retain a law firm for your personal injury case, your lawyer can advise you about how to construct that case and respond to any challenges that may arise throughout the litigation process. Personal injury attorneys bring years or even decades of experience to the table and will endeavor to maximize the amount of compensation that you obtain for your injuries and other damages.

To build a viable personal injury case, your lawyer will need to be fully conversant with every element of your accident-related medical treatment. Personal injury lawyers have to understand the characteristics of your injuries and the impact they have on your life. Only by conveying the totality of your losses in a comprehensive and compelling way during negotiations or in a courtroom will your attorney be able to maximize the verdict or settlement for your personal injury claim.

In the process of becoming familiar with your medical treatment, your lawyer will become familiar with your medical providers as well and may even communicate with them. Your providers might be asked to produce written reports or testify during sworn depositions or at trial about the nature and medical necessity of your treatment, the causal relationship between your accident and your injuries, and your future medical needs and prospects for recovery, among other matters. And upon the conclusion of your personal injury case, your attorney will work to ensure that your medical providers are paid for what they may be owed out of your settlement or verdict. Because these providers may include chiropractors, chiropractors can be said to work with lawyers in that sense.

But personal injury attorneys are legal professionals, not medical professionals. If you retain lawyers, they may give you legal advice related to your case. On a human level, they may offer you emotional support as you make your way through this difficult period. However, attorneys are not qualified to give you medical advice and should not do so, since uninformed medical care could be detrimental to your health. Similarly, your lawyer will not work directly with chiropractors or other medical providers to plan out your treatment program or suggest that you undergo procedures solely to beef up your personal injury case, as that would be unethical and not a suitable activity for an attorney. Therefore, a plaintiff working with a reputable firm will likely never say that “My lawyer sent me to a chiropractor.”

Your medical decisions need to be made by you and a trained medical practitioner, just as your legal decisions need to be made by you and a trained legal practitioner. As you attempt to recover from the physical and economic damages of a slip-and-fall or car accident injury, chiropractor and attorney alike may play a part in that recovery. Both your chiropractor and your attorney want what is best for you, and they may act simultaneously to achieve that end, but they are each concerned with very different aspects of your well-being. Your interests are best served when they stay in their respective lanes, with your lawyer making legal decisions for legal reasons and your chiropractor making medical decisions for medical reasons.

With that in mind, you should know that Hensley’s personal injury attorneys are eager to work alongside your chiropractor and any other medical provider of your choosing so that together we can make you whole again.

Getting Justice for the Everyday People of Indiana

Hopefully, you now have a greater sense of what a chiropractor can do for you and your personal injury case. Trying to get your life back to normal after an accident can be no easy task, though you may find that you could benefit from the assistance of professionals who have successfully resolved situations like yours before. For this reason, you might consider following in the footsteps of thousands of injured Hoosiers who were glad that they reached out to the dedicated Indiana personal injury attorneys at Hensley Legal Group. We have been getting justice for the everyday people of Indiana for more than a quarter century, and we are ready to do the same for you and your family.

Please call or text us at (317) 472-3333, chat with us online, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free case review with an accomplished Indiana personal injury lawyer at Hensley Legal Group.