Can Your Doctor Refuse to See You Because You Were Injured In a Car Wreck?
Can a doctor refuse to see you just because you’ve been in a car wreck? Believe it or not, the answer is “yes.” Doctors in private practice are in business to make money. In private practice, doctors can decide who they will see as a patient and who they will not see. While this may sound like a violation of the Hippocratic oath, most practitioners argue that it is not.
Imagine you’re stopped at a red light, minding your own business, doing nothing wrong, and a drunk driver plows into your car. You immediately feel pain in your neck and back. The doctor in the emergency room tells you that you have no broken bones, but you have a torn ligament in your neck and a bulging disc in your back.
The next day, you make an appointment to see your family doctor for treatment. When you get to your doctor’s office, the receptionist asks you if you were in a car wreck. Of course, you say “yes,” and to your surprise and dismay, the receptionist says
“I’m sorry, but we don’t see anyone who’s been in a car wreck.”
“What??” “But, why?”
“That’s just our policy.”
“But, Doctor Jones has been my doctor for 15 years. I’m hurt. I want to see him.”
“I’m sorry, sir. We can’t see you. Good day.”
If you think this is fiction, think again. This scenario plays out in doctor’s offices all over Georgia on a daily basis. For the reasons I will explain in this blog post, many doctors simply refuse to treat victims of car wrecks, regardless how long the victim has been a patient of that doctor.
Doctors refuse to treat car wreck victims for many different reasons. Some of the most common are:
- Uncertainty about when the doctor will get paid for services rendered;
- Reluctance to get involved in a matter that may require the doctor to testify as a witness about the nature and extent of the victim’s injuries, prognosis, and causation (whether the wreck caused the injuries); and
- General disdain of the civil justice system and lawyers in general, especially trial lawyers who represent injured people.
So, you are hurt. You need medical care. You tried to get medical care from your doctor. You were refused. What now?
Start calling different doctors’ offices, explain your situation, and try to get an appointment. If you are lucky enough to get an appointment, be truthful about the wreck. Do not lie.
If the emergency room doctor referred you to a specific doctor, but that doctor refused to see you, call the emergency room doctor, and tell her/him immediately. The emergency room doctor may refer you to a different doctor who will see you. Either way, the emergency room doctor needs to know that the other doctor refused to see you. If you cannot get the emergency room doctor on the phone, leave a message with her/his office manager, and follow up daily until you get a satisfactory answer.
If you have a lawyer, you might think that your lawyer can, or should, help you find a doctor. Surely, you think to yourself, my lawyer can refer me to a doctor who will see me. Before you agree to see that doctor, imagine what it looks like to an insurance adjuster or a jury when a lawyer refers a client to a doctor. It looks like the lawyer and the doctor are “in bed together” and have some type of “under-the-table” arrangement where they refer patients/clients to each other. It looks like an agreement that “if you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours,” and that type of arrangement can destroy the credibility of the lawyer AND the doctor.
Avoid seeing a doctor referred by your lawyer at all cost. Find a doctor on your own by calling around, searching the internet, or asking friends and family members for a referral, but don’t destroy your case by seeing a doctor that your lawyer referred you to.
Remember, nothing in this blog post is legal or medical advice. This post is general information, and nothing more. If you need medical assistance, call 911.