Can I Switch Doctors While Pursuing a Personal Injury Case?

No matter how substantial or long-lasting your accident-related injuries are, seeking immediate medical care for them and following all instructions provided by your physician(s) is crucial to protecting your future prospects. Not only is it the best way to make sure you will heal from your injuries as quickly and completely as possible, it is also essential to preserving your right to pursue civil compensation from the party responsible for your accident.

However, for one reason or other, it is not uncommon for personal injury victims to want to switch doctors while pursuing a personal injury case, a move which can have significant impact on how your claim proceeds and ultimately concludes depending on the circumstances. While it is still always best to discuss your plans with a qualified personal injury attorney before making any binding decisions, here are a few things to know in advance about the effect that changing physicians could have on personal injury litigation.

Possible Impacts of Changing Treatment Plans During Litigation

Changing doctors while a personal injury claim is ongoing is not always a bad thing—in fact, it can sometimes be a necessary move to ensure you receive the best possible care, especially if the first doctor you seek treatment from does not take your injuries seriously or does not provide the high-quality care you deserve. However, the biggest risk by far associated with this kind of move is the possibility that your insurance company will disagree with you that switching doctors was medically necessary.

When insurance companies review accident claims, they generally look for any reason available to minimize their own financial liability to a policyholder, since keeping premium payments without giving money back to injured people is how these companies make profits. Accordingly, they often challenge the assertions of injured people that their injuries are really as bad as they say they are, or that they need alternative—and possibly more expensive—medical care to fully recover from them.

So, if you just want to switch doctors because you would prefer a different physician or want to increase the value of your eventual payout, you should definitely talk things over with your legal counsel first. While it is not impossible to build a case arguing that seeing a specialist or switching primary care physicians is a necessary expense for an insurance provider to cover, it is far from guaranteed that you and your insurer will see this matter in the same way.

What If a Doctor Recommends Alternative Care?

Importantly, switching doctors during a personal injury case by your own volition is very different from switching doctors because another physician recommended that you do so. For example, if basic chiropractic treatment does not resolve lingering back pain stemming from a car wreck, the chiropractor might refer that patient to a specialist or even recommend corrective surgery.

Rather than potentially being an unnecessary change in treatment, following this kind of recommendation from a doctor or specialist could be a key part of achieving maximum physical recovery. That being said, your insurance company might still contest the notion that this kind of treatment was medically necessary, so it can still help to have skilled legal representation advocating on your behalf.