Academy of Chiropractic Personal Injury & Primary Spine Care Program
Quickie Consult 34 OS
"Insurance Assignment of Benefits"
Yesterday, November 15, 2013, I lectured at a large trial lawyers association convention to a few hundred lawyers. As is my policy when I lecture at any one of these types of meetings, I spend the entire day listening to every speaker to learn what's new. In addition, after my presentation, I was on an expert panel where there was an open microphone and lawyers in the audience could ask questions. A recurring theme for many of the speakers that arose again during the panel presentation was that of multiple coverages, multiple accidents and doctors not providing either a correctly completed or valid assignment of benefits.
Regardless of liens that have been accurately executed, should the assignment not be filled out correctly or considered invalid by today's court standards, it can void your ability to get paid. In today's insurance – legal world, more and more patients are using their primary insurances and/or third-party insurances to cover your bills for personal injury cases. In addition, more and more patients are going to the lawyers and demanding they get paid up front, bypassing the doctors and ordering their lawyers to do a forensic analysis of all of your paperwork looking for a defect and a valid legal reason not to pay you.
The lawyer now has a legal responsibility to fulfill their clients' wishes and should they fall short, they leave themselves open to be sued for malpractice and/or disbarred if they do not follow the orders of their clients. These scenarios are happening more and more frequently, leaving lawyers in very difficult positions with the doctors thinking that the lawyers are the offending party, when in fact it is the patients.
Too many lawyers in this meeting stated that many doctors have serious defects in their paperwork and procedures and although they realize their clients need the healthcare, it's not their fault that the doctors do not do their jobs properly in filing accurate paperwork. Unfortunately, the lawyers are correct and should we not get paid, it's not the patients' fault nor the lawyers' fault; it's our fault.
The simple solution is the following. Make sure your assignment benefits has the correct language that is specific for your state. In addition, many states have mandated forms that must be used and filled out correctly. When a patient starts with you in a personal injury case, it is always a good business practice to inform the lawyer you were treating his/her client. You now need to add the assignment benefits form along with your initial report when sending your initial documentation to the attorney. You then should call the lawyer as soon as he/she receives the initial documentation and ask if the assignment is in the correct format as you are aware that the courts are changing mandates on a regular basis.
This gives you another compelling and valid reason to communicate with a lawyer and let him/her know you understand his/her issues. In addition, you are now getting free legal advice on the accuracy of your paperwork and have an opportunity to keep your assignment current to ensure you are paid.