Do your patients tell you that “chiropractic claims just don’t get much respect from juries” ? Or do they say “The adjuster said that my whiplash claim was only worth $2000 maximum” ? How about this one “Well the insurance adjuster says since there wasn’t much property damage to my car, that they can only pay no more than $3,000”?
Two weeks ago a Sumner County jury awarded my client Kandice Dixon a verdict of $25,000. No, you didn’t read about it in the paper or see it on the news, but it was a very important verdict to Chiropractic practice. This was a case that had EVERY BAD FACT that insurance companies love to shove down your patient’s (and indirectly, your) throat. Ms. Dixon (the plaintiff) had the following “bad” facts that were repeated to us ad nauseum by the insurance company, their adjuster, and their defense attorneys throughout this case. These included:
- Very slight property damage to the Ms. Dixon’s rear bumper;
- The plaintiff said she was “fine” at the scene and did not report any immediate injury to the police;
- The plaintiff went straight to work and worked a full 8 hour shift;
- The plaintiff had additional pains develop over time that were not immediately present;
- The plaintiff became pregnant about a year or so after the wreck;
- The plaintiff treated with a chiropractor (E – gads!) ;
- The plaintiff treated with a chiropractor for 4 months;
- The plaintiff was allegedly involved in a subsequent car wreck that she did not tell her doctors or the defense attorney (that had absolutely nothing to do with her injuries in this case); and
- The plaintiff had posted on facebook that she had pain “all over” her body, including the body parts injured in this wreck.
The insurance company, Farmers Insurance, stated that they are “taking a stand” against these types of “frivolous claims” and dug their heels in. During trial they paraded enlarged pictures of the plaintiff’s car showing little or no damage. They hired a doctor, David West, as a Defense Medical Examiner to testify that this person could not have needed any more than 6 weeks of treatment due to the low impact.
The insurance company had offered only $7,500 on this claim, and shortly before trial increased it to a $10,000 “offer of judgment” as their final offer. The plaintiff had previously offered to settle for $15,500. After a short 2 day trial, a conservative jury in Gallatin Tennessee found that Ms. Dixon’s complaints of pain were real, credible and provided a verdict of $25,000.
Why Is This Verdict Significant?
If your patients have real pain, and they are sincere and honest, and they are getting lowballed by the insurance companies, let them know that there is hope. Your patient does not have to take what the insurance company says as gospel. The insurance companies do not get to write the rules and have the last word. I tried this case specifically because I am tired of going to mediations and negotiating with insurance adjusters and their defense attorneys who keep telling me that I can’t get such and such on a soft tissue case. I intentionally tried this case because a- trying this case was justified and in my client’s best interests, and b- it has every single bad fact that the insurance companies always pat themselves on the back about. And if we have well documented “permanent injuries” we are likely to get 6 figures on the next case. We’ve done it before, and we will do it again.
So, if the insurance companies are telling your patient this same line of bull, or telling you to take a reduced fee for your services, tell them to pound sand, and to pick up the phone and call me.