Academy of Chiropractic Personal Injury & Primary Spine Care Program
Quickie Consult 971
Office Systems 75 OS
“Lawyers Diverting Med-Pays”
There is a word for that: Scumbag, Asshole, Crook… But my favorite one is… Felon!!!
“If I don’t get paid…. It’s usually my fault” Mark Studin 2018
I received this yesterday:
I have a situation where the patient's attorney has instructed the insurance company for the med-pay to send the med-pay to him. We talked with the insurance company and they informed us of this. What letter or document should I send the carrier? I was thinking about sending a copy of our assignment of benefits and contract that the patient signed which uses the language you recommended a long time ago. Should I send a letter to the plaintiff attorney letting them know that the med-pay is for medical treatment not for attorney fees? If so is there a letter you have produced that has the recommended language in it for events such as this?
This is so common, I get at least one of these a week and it is a combination of a “scumbag lawyer” doing a “money grab” and you not having safeguards in place “up front” to protect yourself. It appears that some lawyers are getting bolder at attempting to screw you ignoring the fact that without you, they have no case and are jeopardizing their future income (a topic for a future consultation).
The solutions are multi-faceted but start with your assignments. In Quickie Consult “Office Systems 73 OS,” I went through the process of creating an irrevocable assignment. This is just as it sounds… IRREVOCABLE and cannot be revoked and is a contract between you and your patient that a lawyer cannot break unless you release the assignment. IF your assignments are not irrevocable, then have the patient sign a new one today. It is very common for businesses (like mine) to change terms mid-stream and only have to notify you, but in this case where $1000’s are involved, you need to have it in writing.
Should the lawyer have diverted the funds, then you simply send them a copy of the contract and demand the payment be sent to you within 3 business days. All requests are in writing and sent certified, return receipt requested.
Should they not comply, then send a follow up letter threatening an ethics complaint against their license and that you will take legal action against them concurrently.
Should you have NOT protected yourself with an irrevocable assignment (because you did not listen to me!!), then you need to see if the lawyer committed bank fraud and larceny (felony). Once you find out the lawyer diverted your med pay’s, then formally request from the carrier a copy of both sides of the cashed check. The Med Pay check is always made out to the provider and the lawyers typically endorse the check and deposits into their account and it doesn’t matter if they deposited it into their escrow account. They still signed for a check made out to you and that is illegal, cause for prosecution, cause for them losing their license and the leverage you need to get paid right now.
As a matter of business, I get a copy of every check make out for Med Pay and the lawyer diverted the money, no matter the irrevocable clause in my assignment or not.
Once I receive a copy of the check and have proof the lawyer diverted money to their account with my name on it, I CALL the lawyer and leave a message with the secretary (not the lawyer) and say “I have a copy of a cancelled check with my name on it that you deposited into your account. That is illegal and if I do not have a check in my office within 48 hours, I will report you to the local district attorney, the State Bar’s Ethics Board and my personal lawyer to institute suit. In addition, I will be calling the carrier to verify that you have released the diversion of the Med Pay back to me. Please let them know that they have 48 hours and you do not want a return call from the lawyer, only a check in your office as that is the only remedy.”
NOTE: Don’t worry about destroying a potential relationship. You DO NOT want to have a relationship with that firm anyway.They are stealing from you at the onset!
Why the secretary? Because this is not a negotiation with the lawyer and I am not getting into a conversation with them for them to try to scare you with “legalize bullcrap” to try to intimidate you to keep YOUR HARD EARNED MONEY and secondly, to let the secretary know they work for a scumbag!
Should you net get paid, then you send a letter (via both fax and certified, return receipt) telling them that you are reporting them to their licensure board and the local district attorney for bank fraud and theft.
To date, in 100% of the cases, a check has been delivered and I am sure as soon as I write this, that statistic will go down! However, I want you to get paid and don’t take anything less than what you are due honestly, fairly and by the rules. In short, don’t take any crap… GET PAID!!!
Mark Studin DC, FASBE(C), DAAPM, DAAMLP
Adjunct Associate Professor of Chiropractic, University of Bridgeport, College of Chiropractic
Adjunct Post Graduate Faculty, Cleveland University-Kansas City, College of Chiropractic
Adjunct Professor, Division of Clinical Sciences, Texas Chiropractic College
Graduate Medical Educational Presenter, Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education Joint Partnership with the State University of New York at Buffalo, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences
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