Medical Advice from your Attorney?

There is often a misconception that as a personal injury attorney part of my role is to make health care recommendations. This is absolutely not true.

I can understand why people think this, though. There are a lot of mixed messages sent through the media about what role personal injury attorneys play in health care. In other states I know that this is an even more blurred line, and even in this state that are many PI attorneys who get a little too deep in the accidental practice of medicine.

I try to constantly remind my clients that my job is NEVER to make healthcare decisions for them. I am not that kind of doctor, obviously (I have a J.D. not an M.D.), so I shouldn’t be making decisions or recommendations about healthcare; and neither should other unqualified attorneys. But there is a part of my job that is different, but only by a subtle distinction: One of my roles is to help you, the injured party, make healthcare decisions for yourself, knowing what the impact of those decisions might have on your claim.

It’s important to let that distinction marinate for a second. I don’t make healthcare decisions. I help you to understand how your decisions might impact your claim. Then YOU make those decisions, whether they help or hurt your claim, based on what’s best for your health. But you at least know the impact on your claim, for better or worse, before making that decision.

That is subtle, I get it. And it can be frustrating for clients who really just want someone to make decisions for them and solve their problems. I get it. I want to help. That’s why I’m here and that’s why you hired me! But it’s vital that a client should understand that I can’t make healthcare recommendations. I can help you understand what your options are and how those options might impact your claim. This, in my mind, is infinitely better than an unqualified person making healthcare recommendations. I’m making sure your healthcare remains where it should, in your hands, and at the same time empowering those decisions with knowledge about how you can help or hurt your claim with those decisions. I think that’s a big deal.

The take-home point is this: When you hire a personal injury attorney, you shouldn’t expect us to make healthcare decisions for you. But you should expect to get solid advice as to how your different options might impact your claim. So you can see how important it is that you constantly keep your attorney updated as to any changes/developments in your recovery and treatment so s/he can advise you.

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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