Auto Accident Injury Care: Chiropractic or Physical Therapy?

People often think that part of the job of a personal injury attorney is to dictate treatment. That is, definitively, not what we should be doing. Yes, to practice law in NC you have to have a doctorate, but I tell people all the time I ain’t that kind of doctor. I have no business telling you what treatment you need!

What IS my business though is telling you how your treatment decisions might affect your claim value. So let’s talk about why people might choose one type of care over another.

First, let’s establish that, for this article, we’re talking about the usual soft tissue injuries that you experience after an auto accident: Sprain/Strains of the neck/back. Those are the VAST majority of injuries from auto accidents. We are NOT talking about broken bones, damaged organs, etc. Just so we’re clear.

Back to the point…if you’ve got neck and back pain, my personal position on it is if it hasn’t gone away in a day or so, it’s maybe bad enough to warrant treatment. I mean, why suffer when you might be able to do something to get better? As for claim value, here’s the first lesson: Claims without treatment are worth LESS THAN claims with treatment. Duh. But you needed to hear that.

So, now that we’ve established that you need treatment, what are you looking for? Most victims go to one or the other…PT or Chiropractic. Why they choose what they choose more often has to do with their own opinions, not mine, which is for the best.

If you’re afraid of the “poppin and lockin” done by chiropractors, well, then you’ll probably do PT. If you’re not, then maybe you do chiropractic. Chiropractic’s upsides are that it’s passive and (this is the big one) most chiropractors won’t bill you up front and will await payment from your settlement proceeds. That’s a big deal in that it keeps you from dipping into your pocket during your recovery. PT, on the other hand, is more active (you have to do as opposed to have done to you) and for the most part they will ask you to pay up front, either in full or use your health insurance, in which case you have to pay your co-pay. Maybe that’s cool to you, maybe it’s not, but you have to factor in your comfort with that sort of payment schedule when making this decision.

In terms of value, PT, being the more conservative and less mysterious of the two modalities, is generally less frowned-upon by insurance carriers, so you’re more likely to get fully reimbursed for that. But depending on the chiropractor’s bills and your case facts, there’s still a great chance you should get that covered, too.

Health care choice is a personal thing, and shouldn’t be dictated by outside factors like claim value. But I do think it’s important that you have as much information as you can get prior to making important decisions. All the more reason to talk to a lawyer. Call me at 919-929-2992.

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Jeffrey Allen Howard, Attorney at Law, PLLC
1829 E. Franklin St. - Bldg 600
Chapel Hill, NC 27514

(P) 919-929-2992
(F) 919-636-4779

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