Should You See a Chiropractor?

Back and neck injuries are among the most common allegations in personal injury lawsuits. Clients often seek treatment from chiropractors for these problems. But is treating with a chiropractor good for your lawsuit?

Without getting into a debate on the merits of chiropractic care from a medical standpoint, I can easily say that chiropractors are a mixed bag at best when it comes to your lawsuit. Why? Because most insurance adjusters and personal injury lawyers, including plaintiffs’ lawyers, do not have a great deal of respect for chiropractors. They are not medical doctors. The treatments they provide are expensive and administered frequently. Many chiropractors aggressively target their advertising towards accident victims. The perception of many in the legal and insurance professions is that while chiropractic treatment may provide temporary pain relief (as would, say, a nice massage), ultimately the cost of the treatment vastly exceeds the benefits provided. So, am I saying that you should never see a chiropractor? No. I am saying be smart with your medical costs and make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck.

See a Medical Doctor First

If you have suffered a back or neck injury in an accident, I strongly recommend seeing a medical doctor before you consider seeing a chiropractor. If you have a serious injury, such as a herniated disc, you may not want a chiropractor “adjusting” your spine until you hear from a medical doctor that it is safe to do so. If you require surgery, your medical doctor can give you a referral to a specialist. If you are in pain, a medical doctor can give you a prescription for the appropriate medication (chiropractors cannot prescribe medication). From a lawsuit perspective, it looks much better if you go to a family doctor first, rather than immediately seeking a chiropractor. True or not, it is a widely held belief in the personal injury field that people who are really hurt go to medical doctors and people who just want money go to chiropractors. See a medical doctor first. If you are cleared to see a chiropractor, you can decide after that if chiropractic care is right for you.

The Truth About Soft Tissue Cases

In most personal injury cases involving back and neck pain, the pain will be caused by damage to the soft tissues around the spinal column (muscles and tendons), and not due to herniated discs or fractured vertebrae. These soft tissue cases will be the ones most likely to involve a chiropractor, as medical doctors will most often only be able to treat them with anti-inflammatory and narcotic pain medications. Because long-term use of narcotic pain medication has too many downsides to list, many people seek alternative treatments — such as chiropractic care.

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The problem with most soft tissue cases is that they are often not worth very much. While the pain you feel from your soft tissue injury can be intense, and sometimes permanent, there are no sophisticated tests, like MRIs or CT scans, that can prove the existence, much less the degree, of your soft tissue injury. Without the objective evidence provided by these types of scans to back up your claim, your subjective complaints will often be the only proof of how badly you are hurt. Subjective complaints by a plaintiff without hard medical evidence are usually not well received by either insurance adjusters or juries. In these types of cases, the chiropractor can be both your best friend and worst enemy.

The Balancing Act of the Chiropractor in Soft Tissue Cases

When you have a soft tissue injury case, you must pay special attention to how much you will owe your medical providers (and health insurance to the extent that it has paid for accident-related injuries) when it is over. You will need your attorney’s help. You must pay particular attention to chiropractic care, mainly because its costs add up rather quickly. Most chiropractors will want to treat you several times per week. This will likely go on for several months before he is willing to say whether you are at maximum medical improvement, or MMI. It is important for you to be at MMI before settling your case.

Knowing that you may need treatment for several months before your case is in a position to potentially settle, you have to ask yourself if you need as many treatments as your chiropractor is suggesting (i.e., could you go 1 or 2 times per week instead of 4?). Honestly evaluate whether the treatment is making you feel better. Discuss with the chiropractor how many treatments he expects you to need, and do the math on how much that will cost.

Consistency of treatment is important to a soft tissue injury plaintiff. You don’t want to go for any extended period of time without receiving any treatment at all. However, overtreating is almost as much a risk to your case as undertreating. If you accumulate more medical bills than your case is worth, you could wind up walking away with no money in your pocket, or worse — still owing money to your medical providers.

Ultimately, you must balance the cost of your chiropractic care against the benefit it provides to your health and your lawsuit. Ask your lawyer to keep an eye on your medical bills (he will be routinely requesting them anyway) and let you know if he thinks you’re overtreating. Let him know that you’re not asking for medical advice. You just want to know when he thinks that the cost of your medical care will exceed the fair value for your case.

A Kind Word About Chiropractors

I’ve been kind of rough on chiropractors in this article, so I will try to finish on a positive note. In my experience, more often than not, chiropractors benefit the lawsuits of soft tissue plaintiffs. They seem to take soft tissue claims more seriously than medical doctors, which makes them more vocal advocates for plaintiffs. What they may lack in credibility with insurance adjusters and juries, they can often make up for with enthusiasm — they seem to be true believers in your pain. They can often give the jury a scientific reason for believing that your soft tissue “whiplash” injury is both real and permanent. Even if the jury is skeptical of chiropractors, they will be more likely to believe your subjective complaints of pain with a chiropractor backing you up than if you were to go to trial with no medical expert at all.

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So, should you see a chiropractor? If you have a soft tissue injury case and you see a medical doctor first, sure. Try it out. If the chiropractor makes you feel better, continue to see him. However, keep an eye on those medical bills!

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28 Responses to Should You See a Chiropractor?

  1. michelle hanley says:

    I am injured on my job in an auto accident, where I suffered back and neck injuries. I have pain in the back of head behind my ears from the muscles behind neck that causes a lot of headaches; pain from my neck going down my shoulders and arm; pain from lower back down my legs; difficulties sitting, standing, walking, bending because of the discs in my back and neck are bulging touching my spine causing a sharp cutting pain. The work comp Dr. is telling lies for the insurance Co. I went to a Chiropractor; he uses his hand and could feel exactly where I am hurting and point them out to me. HOW COMES A MEDICAL DOCTOR CANNOT DO THAT!!!!!!!!!?

    • fl_litig8r says:

      The chiro is likely feeling spasms in response to your pain. There isn’t a doctor or chiro out there who can diagnose bulging discs just by external feel. If you have discs which are herniated and are impinging on your spinal cord, these will show up on an MRI. As far as the workers’ comp doc goes, you can guess what his job is. If you’ve had an MRI that didn’t show disc herniation or vertebral abnormalities (spurring, fractures, etc.), it’s likely a soft tissue injury. These can be painful and can take a long time to heal, but there’s not an objective test out there that will show them. If you haven’t already consulted with a workers’ comp attorney, you should probably do so ASAP.

  2. casey mccole says:

    You make no sense by any means. For example, to say the least; Chiropractor’s are not medical doctors but you say watch out for your medical bills from the chiropractor. This is terrible. Go back to school and do a little more research on this topic before you embarrass yourself anymore. This is bad! Really bad? Research has already disproved everything you are saying. RESEARCH!!!!

    • fl_litig8r says:

      If you think I make no sense, feel free to ignore my advice. However, with respect to my reference to chiro bills as “medical bills”, every lawyer I know calls bills from any health care provider, be it a doctor, chiro, psychologist, or even ambulance driver, “medical bills.” It’s just a colloquialism. As far as “research” disproving “everything” I am saying, I can’t respond to such a broad, unsupported criticism.

  3. Dr. E says:

    An opinion on this blog, viewed by a chiropractor.

    Pretty much everything he’s said is accurate… especially the part about watching your “medical bills”. I have been a chiropractor for three years now. I own my own office and am doing okay.

    About four months ago I was contacted by a company to do Independent Medical Examinations (IME). I examine these victims of accidents, that have been seen over and over and over and over and… (I think you get my drift) and the car insurance company is just absolutely sick and tired of paying the claims. So they hire me as a 2nd opinion type of guy. I examine the patient for about 30 minutes. I look over office notes and bills presented to the insurance company for payment, and then make a determination if I agree or disagree with the previous chiropractor or physical therapist on the treatment or number of treatments.

    I can tell you I’m embarrassed as a chiropractor that my peers would abuse the insurance system like they do. While I cannot go into details about the cases, I will say that of the 10 I’ve done to date, eight of them were flat-out fraudulent. There is no reason to treat patients involved in accidents under 5 MPH 60, 70 or 80 times for more than $10,000.

    Anybody reading this, and has had an accident… chiropractic can absolutely help you… but you have to find the right chiropractor, one that does muscle work. I do muscle work on all my patients, and then I adjust them. I spend between 7 to 12 minutes on just about each patient. Many chiropractors would laugh at that length of adjustment, because they know they can get away with doing a crappy one in under two minute for the same amount of money, but see three to four times what I do. Well what I want to know is how they sleep at night. Currently I have patients flocking to my clinic from a few of the one’s in town because word is getting out my patients get great results and fast. I’ve have people that have gone to other area chiropractors for years feel better with just one adjustment from me. I don’t think I have any special powers… in fact, I think any chiropractor can do what I do… but they don’t because they are lazy.

    I was taught by a great instructor in college… when treating patients, it should be your focus to get them feeling significantly better within two weeks (say from an 8/10 down to a 4 or under). If after two weeks the patient hasn’t really progressed, the chiropractor needs to change the treatment plan and try something else… maybe a new modality or different chiropractic technique. If after two more weeks you still don’t feel like you’ve made significant progress… the chiropractor needs to refer you to someone who can help you.

    Depending on the state you live, auto insurance gives you a certain amount of money for Personal Injury Protection (PIP). In my state… Delaware, PIP is at least $15,000 (except for motorcycle accidents… where you may have NOTHING). You should not have to worry about running out of money unless you have really serious injuries. Beware of how much your office visits are going to be.

    A benefit for doing IME’s is I get to see how much chiropractors and physical therapists are charging. Let me tell you, you’d be shocked if you knew. There are chiropractic clinics in my town that charge almost $300 per visit and of course they want you to come in three times per week, even if you really don’t need to. And physical therapists need to be watched like a hawk too… the one case I’ve had regarding physical therapists, the guy was charging over $400 each session.

    When I am seeing a MVA patient and I feel they need modalities like electric muscle stimulation, traction, or therapuetic ultrasound besides the adjustment and/or extremity adjustment my charges are usually between $100 to $140. It is an extreme difference when you consider coming to my office for approximately $400 a week for three sessions, versus going to the other chiropractor that charges $900 a week for three sessions… or the PT that charges more than $1,200 for that week. Besides my costs being half or less than several others in this area, I also get them better faster… so it’s a win-win for the patient for sure.

    Just like the OP said… make sure you watch those bills… because there are a lot of greedy medical professionals that don’t know when to say when.

    If you’ve been in a fender-bender (under $1,500) of damage… if you are going to see a chiropractor, treatment should probably be between six to 15 visits… not 60 or 70.

    If you’ve been in an accident that caused $2,000 to $6,000 or so, and you have quite a bit of soreness for days to weeks, you really should see a chiropractor. The initial pain and symptoms of whiplash is NOTHING to what it can do to you long term if you don’t get rid of muscle guarding. Long term damage from whiplash could end up giving you chronic pain and limited motion from arthritis. In cases like this, the chiropractor set out a treatment plan between 12 visits to 30 visits.

    In cases where you’ve had a significant car accident… totaled and/or flipped car… you might have to go for treatments up to about 50 visits. I try not to go over 30… and that’s for the major MVA patients.

    You should be getting better… and if you feel like you’ve plateaued over a period of visits with your chiropractor or physical therapist… don’t be afraid to look at other options. Sometimes they don’t want to let you go because they are raking in the money… but this shouldn’t be benefiting them… it should be benefiting you… for you to get better.

    Sorry to ramble… but I’m shocked what some are charging. Call around and ask about the prices. You’ll be able to eliminate a few quickly… when they don’t know quite what to say when you call, like you pulled their pants down or something.

    Good luck.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge. I’m sure my readers will, as well.

    • Samantha Zysett says:

      This has been very helpful! Thank you for sharing! I am in month 10 of a car accident recovery (totaled the vehicle) and have been seeking chiropractic and PT treatments. Progress has been slow, but steady and pain is decreasing. One thing I have noticed is the difference between chiropractors that do muscles work with adjustments like you mentioned, as this is the only way I see progress for my injuries. You mentioned that you had some special training in college for this – is there a special concentration, or term that someone could use, or are there specific questions to ask to determine when meeting a chiropractor if he/she advocates and is qualified in administering this type of chiropractic adjustment? I have come right out and described this type of treatment when consulting and trying to find a care provider, but have never gotten good responses as most say they don’t know what I am talking about in regards to muscle manipulation with adjustment, so I am just wondering if there is a specific medical term to use for this? Thanks again!

    • karelys says:

      Thank you for your comment! I am trying to figure it out myself with the chiro visits. I’m 27 weeks pregnant and got rear ended last weekend. The thing is, I don’t have lots of pain. Mostly I feel disoriented and like my head is in water.

      The first visit to the chiro he used this gun on my spine at certain spots and said it was to stimulate the vertebrae. I felt extremely nauseous but 5 minutes later after it was over I felt completely aware and like something had popped.

      After work all I wanted to do was sleep. I slept pretty soundly and woke up refreshed this morning. Something that seemed impossible after no matter how much sleep during the weekend.

      The accident did a number on me but the weird thing is that there is not a huge amount of pain so I feel like I should tough it out. I just want to make sure this won’t affect my baby.

    • Dr. T says:

      I know I’m a few years late to this comment (I just found the site and I really like it)… But I just wanted to say “Wow!”. Dr. E, I can see why the insurance companies want you to do IMEs for them. It appears that you are under the same impressions about MVAs and their resulting injuries as they are.

      1. You determine injury existence / severity based on the amount of vehicle damage. This is not possible to do and several studies support that. (Centeno CJ, Freeman M, Elkins WL. A review of the literature refuting the concept of minor impact soft tissue injury. Pain Res Manag 2005;10:71-4) (Croft AC, Freeman MD. Correlating crash severity with injury risk, injury severity, and long-term symptoms in low velocity motor vehicle collisions. Med Sci Monit 2005;11:RA316-21) (Foreman SM, Croft AC. Whiplash injuries : the cervical acceleration/deceleration syndrome. 3rd ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2002) (Robbins M. Lack of Relationship Between Vehicle Damage and Occupant Injury. SAE Technical Paper 1997;970494) (Ros SP, Martens CA, Herman BE, et al. Can emergency physicians correlate between vehicle damage and velocity change? Pediatr Emerg Care 1995;11:277-9)
      2. You determine frequency and duration of treatment based on the value of vehicle damage. This type of treatment plan development is contradictory to common and widely used guidelines. (Croft’s Guidelines for the management of CAD trauma) (International Chiropractic Association’ Best Practices Guidelines) (International Chiropractors Association of California’s Management of whiplash associated disorders) (Chiropractic Quality Assurance and Practice Parameters [Mercy]) (Council on Chiropractic Practice [CCP])
      3. You make similar determinations based on “speed” at the time of impact. Not only can you refer to my earlier references, but it is quite easy to search and find many more. Additionally, I possess a copy of a signed affidavit from the Florida Dept of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles that states that the years 1994 – 1999 there were 1910 FATALITIES and well over 250,000 injuries in car crashes where no vehicle was moving faster than 10 mph.
      4. You also do not appear to charge what is “usual and customary for your area”. (Wasserman’s Physician Fee Reference) (PMIC’s Medical Fees in the United States) (Data Management Ventures’ Fee Facts)

      If determining severity, care, treatment, frequency, duration based on the dollar value of vehicle damage is clinically sound, why don’t hospitals examine the car before rendering treatment to MVA patients? If you have one patient that was driving a 1994 Toyota Corolla, and another patient driving a 2014 BMW or Mercedes, and both cars received the same exact amount of “physical damage” (yet the BMW and Mercedes will have a *significantly* higher damage value), how do you determine their separate injury severities and treatment plans based on those values? Will the Corolla driver be “less injured” because his car costs less to repair? This is the same game that insurance companies want to play in order to reduce payout.

      If you have *anything* documented that supports what you are doing, PLEASE post that information. I would sincerely love to examine it.

      I would also like to suggest that if you continue to treat PI patients that you attend some PI specific CEUs.

      Now, a kind word about Dr. E. I totally agree that many chiropractors treat excessively. I also agree that a $10,000 bill is quite excessive. I rarely go above half that figure. I agree with Dr. E that “muscle work” is important in MVA injuries. I agree that patients should improve measurably within the first 2 weeks, if not then the doctor should modify treatment… and if still little to no improvement after another 2 weeks that patient should be referred out.

      Now… a word about this article. I completely agree that the public’s view and the insurance company’s view about chiropractors is… less than favorable, and that the view of an MD is much more favorable. Anyone reading this may be surprised to learn that a chiropractor’s education is on-par with a medical doctor’s education. Please search for and review the many instances where the education between the two professions is compared. Most of the classes are the same and chiropractors receive more cumulative academic hours of education than medical doctors.

    • Rich Roth says:

      I ran across this article and realize it is several years old. While much of what you said is reasonably accurate, I take issue with some of your comments or recommendations. I question the credentials of anyone doing an IME with only several years of experience and no other specialized training in what they are evaluating. That is not to say that one does not have some knowledge of the information they are evaluating. However, some of your comments indicate a lack of knowledge in certain areas with respect to injuries.

      Amongst the many patients I have treated, I have had the opportunity to treat more than 12000 injury related cases. In an attempt to better my knowledge of motor vehicle accidents as they relate to patient injuries I became certified in accident reconstruction through Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service. One of the first comments that jumped out at me was that the amount of car damage somehow dictates the degree of soft tissue injury. While there is a relationship for sure, it is not just an indirect relationship but in many instances an inverse relationship. Without the knowledge of the physics of an accident, particularly as it relates to the patient, it is inaccurate to directly relate physical car damage to soft tissue damage. Little to no damage to a vehicle often means the energy of the impact was transferred into moving the vehicle rather than “crushing” the body of it. It is in the mechanics of sudden acceleration or deceleration that determine that injury.

      While it would be correct to say that the soft tissue injury is difficult to quantify even with imaging, it is not impossible. A radiologist who is cognisant of the importance of documenting evidence of injury can do so with MRI. The cues can be very subtle and even escape the trained eye of a chiropractor, even one with extensive personal injury experience.

      I also take issue with a doctor who compares his fees with another doctor as somehow being equated with providing better care. While an average soft tissue case ordinarily will not likely exceed 30 to 40 visits, the charges for services provided on those visits can vary quite a bit depending on the doctor and the region practiced in.

      The bottom line is that regardless of which doctor or the type of care sought to treat a soft tissue injury, the patient should begin to see some improvement within the first 3 to 4 weeks of care. It is reasonable with some injuries to feel little to no change through that time frame. However, if no change is seen at that point, other providers or specialists should be involved and additional imaging should be utilized. As the owner of an integrated facility I involve physical therapists as well as medical in the treatment of personal injury patients as that is not only the best model in general for the patient but makes a stronger legal case for the representing attorney rather than having only one mode of treatment.

      • fl_litig8r says:

        Hey, my articles are timeless! It’s not like the basics of personal injury cases change that much over a few years. Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to put your 2 cents in, and I’m sure my readers do as well.

  4. frank says:

    I had a work injury 2 years ago. I had surgery which didn’t help
    now the dr. wants me to have L4-L5,L5-S1 fusion but i’m afraid
    to have it done. The PTP report said all the restrictions and that
    he wants to leave the surgery option open because of the spine instability and he put on MMI with 68% WPI. IC send me to a QME
    and he agrees with the all the PTP findings and also to leave open
    the surgery option but he only gave me a 24% WPI can someone
    tell me why is the WPI % so far apart if they agreed on all the findings? and what percent has more weight on the WCB?
    Thank you

    • fl_litig8r says:

      First, a disclaimer. I do not, and never have, practiced workers’ compensation law. I have a passing familiarity with it just because I’ve been practicing so long and I know workers’ comp lawyers.

      As to how your treating doctor and the QME doctor can arrive at different Whole Person Impairment ratings, the bottom line is that the AMA guide leaves a lot of room for subjectivity to enter into the rating process. In some states, doctors are allowed to deviate from the AMA guide ratings if they can show that following the AMA guidelines would produce an inequitable result (i.e., they don’t truly reflect the person’s ability to work and perform ADLs).

      If you have a workers’ comp lawyer, it may be in your best interest to depose the QME doc to learn his underlying rationale for the lowball rating. Your lawyer may be able to poke holes in his logic by doing this, and show that your treating doc’s evaluation better followed the AMA guide and best reflects your abilities. If you don’t have a lawyer, I’d suggest consulting with one ASAP about this issue. Most WC lawyers will give a free consultation, and you really should get advice from someone who knows the ins and outs of your state’s WC laws.

  5. charlie says:

    I understand that most of these articles are geared toward plaintiffs, but any advice to a defendant?
    In Feb I was involved in a rear end collision at a red light (I was driving a full sized pick up) and the car struck was a small honda. damages to both vehicles occured. Immediately after the accident, both the driver and passenger were out of their cars on phones (obviously shaken but no acute injuries apparent). When police/EMS arrived, the passenger sat in her car and whole demeanor changed to putting on quite a show. I have been informed that the passenger and lawyer are seeking a settlement of 91000 but my limits per passenger is 50,000. I do not own my truck or home, have huge student loans and have no inheritance or other assets to seize if they wish to persue further monetary compensation. To my knowledge, this passenger had imaging at the local ED, and then sought treatment with a chiro (amount unknown) for soft tissue injuries. From speaking to the insurance agent assigned to the claim, she thinks that this package is way overblown and I fear that the case will see court. I am all for someone being compensated a FAIR amount, but worry that this individual is going to try to bleed me for all I’m worth. Not to get into details of the person, but seems to have a shady past/character.


    • fl_litig8r says:

      My advice to you would be to relax. It sounds like the plaintiff’s original demand was just posturing, maybe to put them in a position to negotiate down to a policy limits settlement. Honestly, if the plaintiff’s lawyer really thought that his client’s case was worth more than $50,000.00, he would have made a 30-day demand for policy limits in the hopes that your insurance company would either reject it or miss the deadline, setting them up for a bad faith claim. Unless you’re rich, a bad faith claim (or the plaintiff’s own UM insurance) is the only realistic chance of the plaintiff recovering more than policy limits in an auto accident case. So, I suspect that because the plaintiff’s lawyer doesn’t see any possibility of a bad faith case (because the case isn’t worth more than $50,000.00), he asked for more than policy limits as purely a negotiating tactic.

      If the plaintiff was only seen at the ED and a chiropractor, it doesn’t sound like like this is a $50,000.00 case. Unless there’s some surgery in the plaintiff’s future, it’s unlikely that this case is worth anything near that amount.

      Expect that there will be several offers thrown back and forth between your insurer and the plaintiff’s lawyer. If the plaintiff’s lawyer doesn’t get down to at or below policy limits, he knows that the case won’t settle, so I’d expect negotiations to get into that range before he’d file a lawsuit.

      If he does file a lawsuit, it’s not the end of the world. Your insurer will hire a lawyer to defend you. At worst, you’ll have to answer some discovery, give a deposition, attend mediation (you may not even have to do this), and — this sounds like a remote possibility given the case as you’ve described it — testify at trial. Settlement discussions don’t end just because a lawsuit is filed. Many times, settlement discussions don’t get realistic until a lawsuit is filed.

      While I know it sucks to have the possibility of a judgment hanging over your head, keep in mind that the plaintiff’s lawyer knows he can’t get blood from a stone. He won’t want to take this case to trial just to get an uncollectible judgment against you personally. Just ride it out and expect that the case will settle within your policy limits.

      Don’t get caught up in the plaintiff’s “shady character” or possible exaggerations. Just tell the truth about what happened and let your lawyer handle the rest. If you were at fault for the accident, don’t lie about that just because you think the plaintiff is lying. As a former defense attorney, I know that often admitting liability (fault), but challenging the plaintiff’s damages, is the best tactic in defending a case. If it comes to a jury trial, the jury will appreciate your honesty and it will lend credibility to your damages arguments. If you deny liability when it is clear, the jury could get pissed off and award the plaintiff more than he deserves.

  6. Tammy says:

    My Chiropractor and I had a contract that was up in June. He at that time was to do the x-rays on June 29th. He did not do the x-rays. He continued to tell me to come in and set my appointments. He finally did my x-rays the end of July, and still has not shown them to me. He wanted to do another contract with me but being on a fixed income and no insurance I can not afford the next one and let him know this. He told me that I owed him 3,100.00 for the month of July? I asked him why I would owe him this money? He said because my contract was up in June and gave me services until the End of July.

    I do not believe this is ethical. He said that he had to extend my services due to unforeseen circumstances. He pointed out 3 times that I had twisted wrong, and had documented it. With out telling me this, continuing my treatment for another month and not letting me know it was costing me more money. He is the person that did not follow the contract: he did not do the x-rays when they were to be done, and charged me full price for services for a month without getting my permission or consent. Please let me know what I can do. I need to know what I can legally do.

    • fl_litig8r says:

      While I can’t say that your chiropractor acted properly from a moral standpoint, I don’t see that he did anything illegal. While he treated you beyond the time frame that was initially agreed upon, you knew he was doing this — just as you knew when he didn’t take X-rays at the time he had said. You could have stopped seeing him at that point, but you chose to continue treating with him for an extra month. Even in the absence of a written contract, you would owe him the reasonable value of his services for the treatment which you accepted. Did you really expect to get an extra month’s worth of treatment at no charge?

  7. Lizzy says:

    First, thank you for your advice, love the free legal information. I have a soft tissue case in CA going on for 8 months. Got referred to chiro by attorney and got a final bill of about $3500. My attorney said I will only get $1k after all fees. I told him no, he said he will not negotiate and the ins final offer is $5K and he will not spend anymore time on it. Take it or leave it, and he will hand me my file and collect only his expenses to file with the court. I tried to find a case number, which he did not give me, but couldn’t. He told me to come pick up the file and handle it myself because he will not pursue it further. Should I have just taken my file and made a run for it? I can’t find a signed retainer from him, will I still have to pay his fees? Thanks

    • fl_litig8r says:

      With respect to the contingency fee contract, CA law does require that it be in writing: CA BPC §6147. Of course, when you say “I can’t find a signed retainer from him”, that doesn’t sound like “I know we never entered into a signed contract.” In any event, it sounds like he only wants his expenses reimbursed, which is different than his fee.

      Not to be too critical, but you may have made a mistake in not taking the settlement and the $1,000.00 net to you. A soft tissue claim where you only received $3,500.00 in chiropractic care doesn’t sound like a particularly valuable case. As discussed in this article, chiropractic care really isn’t taken very seriously in the world of personal injury claims. You may not be able to find another lawyer willing to take such a small case, particularly if you have your sights set on a larger settlement. You may wind up collecting nothing if the insurer pulls its offer off the table and you can’t find a new lawyer. I’d suggest giving this some serious thought, and if you haven’t completely burned your bridge with this lawyer, you may want to see if he’ll still be willing to accept the offer on your behalf.

  8. Preston Reinhart says:

    I will say that Chiropractic physicians are way more highly trained in the diagnosis of musculoskeletal diseases and disorders of the spine than any medical professional in existence. DCs are specialists in spinal disorders, that is what they are trained to do for 4 years in chiropractic medical school. To say that someone needs to seek medical care first for a back issue, or a herniated disc before seeking a chiropractic physician is complete ignorance. Medical professionals do not get the specialty training that DCs do in spinal injuries. We take hundreds of hours more in spinal diagnosis, orthopedics and musculoskeletal medicine than medical school. DCs also get identical training to medical school. It is a huge misconception to think that MDs know more about the spine, MSK and orthopedics than DCs. DCs have a little over 400 hours more in orthopedics and diagnosis than MDs. Please get facts straight before writing this to the world. The links below will give my words some validity:

    • fl_litig8r says:

      You’re entitled to your opinion, though I’d say that you’re in the minority view when it comes to how chiropractors’ knowledge of musculoskeletal disease compare to medical doctors. Please try reading my article a little more closely before challenging my facts, as I’m merely stating how chiropractic treatment is viewed by the players in a personal injury lawsuit — which I surely know better than you, because it’s not like most lawyers and insurance adjusters will give you their honest opinion about chiropractic care to your face. I make no claims regarding the quality of care provided. In fact, I thought I was more than fair in discussing the benefits of a chiropractor to a personal injury lawsuit.

      It seems you just got upset over my suggestion that plaintiffs see a medical doctor first, which I stand by. What presents as back pain may not be anything a chiropractor can diagnose, much less treat. If the M.D. clears the patient to seek chiropractic care, then the choice is up to them. That’s my opinion and you’re free to disagree, but don’t claim that I’m wrong on the facts when I’m clearly stating an opinion.

      I removed your first link because that article is so clearly biased it isn’t worthy to be on my site. I allowed the second because, while I don’t agree with all the suggestions made (e.g., comparing the entrance requirements of Parker Chiropractic College to Harvard and Stanford Medical School to imply that Parker requires more training is frankly, laughable), it at least provides some interesting information. I also deleted your other two comments (congratulations on being only the second person ever to have a comment deleted from my site) because one just copy-pastes from that biased article you linked to and the other is just a repetition of how unhappy you are with my article (which apparently you just selectively read for maximum butthurt).

      I suggest you chill, or take your fight to the thousands of other sites which expressly call chiropractic care quackery — something I haven’t done. Personally, I don’t around to other sites defending the merits of personal injury lawyers — and there are also thousands of sites bashing us. It’s just not worth getting myself upset about.

  9. Pnkchl says:

    I rear ended a lady in a car lot going 3-5mph. No damage to my SUV, her car ahead no damage except for a small dent where my front tow bar hit. She appeared to be fine (no English) she was not holding any area of her body and stood out in the rain with me at one point waiting for our reports. I remember leaving thinking “Thank God, it wasn’t anything major”. Let’s forward to 7 mos later when my insurance company informs me that she is wanting a large sum of money from the accident for injury and pain and suffering. The damage on her car was less than $500.00 damage, but she is claiming 22,000.00 of medical bills from a car accident chiropractic clinic. You may or not be familiar with Arrowhead Clinic in your area. In two months time she went 70 + times for treatment. Her injuries on paper looked like I practically destroyed her neck and back from this 3mph wreck. She is claiming headaches from being thrown into the side of her rearveiw mirror, apparently this caused her to suffer headaches and temporary facial paralgis. She had the ever present emotional trauma…couldn’t sleep. She went to Arrowhead the very next day , not a medical Dr. Mind you,to get checked out. Since State Farm doesn’t believe her injuries and won’t pay she is sueing me personally. But it gets even better, by an oversight my idiot husband only insured my SUV for 25,000.00. That is all State Farm can pay if we lose. Guess who gets to come up with the rest of the $20,000 plus? Who knows how high it’s going to go? This women went and Overtreated herself in order to try to get a major payout ( I was in an Escalade, it doesn’t mean I’m rich at all it’s a 2005) and her shark lawyer is right there advising her. There is nothing I can do about it. Please make sure you have the most accident coverage you can afford. It is a very sad day when $25,000 can not pay for a small fender bender. Please pray for me. It’s ruining my health. Thank you

    • fl_litig8r says:

      I don’t know if this will make you feel any better, but I doubt that the plaintiff’s attorney is really trying to get a recovery from you personally. Most personal injury lawyers really don’t want to deal with hassle of attempting to collect a judgment against an individual plaintiff. More likely than not, the plaintiff demanded your policy limits and your insurer refused to pay that much, so the plaintiff’s lawyer sued just to add pressure to the claim and, on the off chance the plaintiff’s injuries turn out to be legitimate, go after your insurer under a bad faith claim. I really suggest you read the bad faith article I just linked to, because (in a nutshell) your insurer may have to indemnify you for the full amount of the claim, regardless of your policy limits, if the plaintiff gets a judgment against you that exceeds your limits and the insurer had previously refused to settle within (or at) policy limits when a reasonable individual would have done so.

      Therefore, if this is an exaggerated claim, you shouldn’t worry too much because it will probably wind up settling within your policy limits even though suit has been filed. If it isn’t exaggerated, your insurer may be liable for any amount the plaintiff is awarded above your policy limits via a bad faith claim. Don’t let this ruin your health. I think it’s really not as bad as you think it is.

  10. ElsaW says:

    Thanks for all of the great advice. What about if my lawyer is dropping my case because after reviewing the files, he is saying that the chiropractor over treated and has unusual and unconventional paper work? I am at a loss for what to do. The lawsuit is filed. I followed what the chiropractor recommended because I was worried about living with chronic pain. He truly did help me and it was a long haul to get there. Now he is wanting payment. I was under the impression that the insurance was covering everything, so i went along with it. After reading this, I see that I was probably over treated.
    Now I have a lawyer who wants out and a big bill. Advice??

    • fl_litig8r says:

      There’s not anything you can do about the lawyer withdrawing. Even though he needs court approval, this is routinely granted, especially if you’re not on the eve of trial. If the chiropractor treated you under a letter of protection, as opposed to him being paid through your own auto or health insurance, then you’ll still owe him even if you recover nothing from the lawsuit (though whether he’ll actually come after you is up to him).

      All you can do now is try to find another lawyer, which won’t be easy — put in some time and don’t just give up after a few rejections — or try to settle with the liability insurer on your own for an amount that will at least satisfy the chiropractor. You may be able to negotiate his bill down, as most health care providers who treat plaintiffs under a letter of protection kind of expect this. If your lawyer does withdraw, he loses any entitlement to a fee from your settlement, so settling on your own may work out for you.

  11. Mai X says:

    I got into an auto accident on Jan 21, 2015. This was my first serious accident as the person who hit me in the freeway was going 65 mph. I am still currently undergoing whiplash injury.

    I didn’t have health insurance and didn’t feel pain until 3 days later so I didn’t see a doctor within 72 hours. I also went to see a Chiro instead of a primary doctor but so far its not helping me. I don’t know how much each treatment cost either seeing now that it depends so I am scared I could have gotten overcharged…

    I did get information from my attorney after the accident but he never respond or call me back for a couple weeks now. I found out he had back surgery. His assistance was not very knowledgeable so he couldn’t even give me a proper answer to my questions. Knowing he worked with the lawyer for a while now he should know basic stuffs but surprisingly he knows nothing except file paperwork! I was surprise he doesn’t know what happened to the lawyer until a week later when my husband finally got a hold of him. I feel like something is wrong for example they are purposely neglecting me because when I tried calling the assistance my calls get sent to voice mail. It made me laugh how unprofessional this lawyer is and if I can I want to change lawyers but I don’t think its possible anymore? This lawyer was very popular in my community and gets compliments but I don’t like his services one bit right now. Right now I don’t know how my case is going because they don’t keep me updated and I can’t reach them. This is really frustrating!

    I am very worried because I did everything wrong since the beginning. Because this was my first time and I didn’t know the right process. Now that I found out more information, its really scary to me. It’s hard finding the right kind of doctor and knowing how credible they are to finding out what is the right thing to do. My attorney say he was willing to suggest a few good doctors to me but him being unresponsive to my calls and voice mails I didn’t know what to do. I had to research everything myself. I wish I had known because right now I am in pain and even lost my job so I am under a lot of stress.

    I have seen the chiro for almost 12 times now but its not helping me at all. He still wants me to go in next month, once a week. I am thinking of going to see a doctor instead so is it possible to stop going to chiro? since I explained that I have been having chest pains on and off but they don’t seem to care. They think its because of my shoulder tissue. I can’t sleep at night because of that. I was wondering if I go see a primary doctor now if it means anything anymore or help my case a little. I want to get an mri to make sure everything inside me is okay. My chiro haven’t referred me to one for a month now…

    I am so confused and in pain! I feel really angry and helpless too because no one can answer my questions! I even ask people who have been in accidents before during the beginning of my accident but they don’t know anything either!

    I need some answers please!

    • fl_litig8r says:

      It’s really early in your case, so your lawyer is likely waiting for you to reach maximum medical improvement before doing anything significant, like sending out a settlement demand. I wouldn’t be concerned that he isn’t doing anything at this point, because there’s usually not much to do at your stage of the claim aside from periodically requesting medical records. It’s not really his job to recommend doctors, but since he made the offer he should have followed up on it. If you’re having trouble getting a return phone call, see this article.

      With respect to your actual treatment, if you feel that you’ve given the chiropractor a fair shot and his treatments aren’t helping, don’t feel obligated to keep going to him. You will be asked in a deposition whether the treatments were helping you, so if you say that they weren’t but you kept going anyway, that will look odd and may result in compensation for treatment after a reasonable timeframe without results being denied. If you decide to try finding another doctor on your own, and your lawyer isn’t helping you yet, it would help to find out if the doctor is willing to treat you under a letter of protection. This way, you can delay paying him until your case is resolved.

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