5 things to look for in a slip and fall doctor are:
- whether he or she will provide treatment on a medical lien,
- whether the doctor is in your insurance network,
- the doctor’s experience treating injuries that will lead to a lawsuit,
- the doctor’s experience with workers’ comp cases, if you slipped and fell on the job, and
- the doctor’s credentials and reputation.
1. Will the doctor provide medical care for a medical lien?
One concern that many slip and fall victims have is paying for their medical attention. If you were seriously hurt and will miss work, your medical bills can accumulate very quickly. If your slip and fall doctor will treat you in exchange for a medical lien, though, it can alleviate that building financial pressure.
A medical lien is a right to reimbursement from a personal injury award or settlement. Doctors who are willing to take a medical lien essentially provide medical care on credit. They provide the treatment that you need upfront. Then, when your personal injury case resolves or settles, they collect their payment from your award.
Medical liens are important for victims who do not have the means to pay for their medical care while their slip and fall case is pending. As their bills accrue, they feel financial pressure to settle their case. The insurance company for the defendant or at-fault party knows this. They will often delay the case for as long as possible to make you feel the financial pinch. Then they will make a settlement offer that undercompensates you. Many victims end up taking this lowball offer because it lets them get out from underneath a mountain of medical bills.
If a doctor provides treatment in exchange for a medical lien, it can reduce this pressure to settle. That can let you negotiate with the insurance company for a better settlement offer.
2. Is the doctor in your insurance network?
If you have health insurance, it will be important to know whether the doctor is in your insurance network. If the doctor is out-of-network, your medical expenses will likely be higher than if you went to a doctor that was in-network. This can lead to the defendant arguing that you did not mitigate your damages after the accident.
In a personal injury case, including slip and fall accidents that are based on premises liability, victims have a legal duty to mitigate their damages. This means that you have to take reasonable steps to keep your losses in check. Personal injury law will not require the defendant to reimburse you for losses that could have been avoided with reasonable efforts or expenditures.1
However, some states do not apply this defense against victims who went out of network for healthcare. For example, in California, if you go out of your health insurance company’s network for care after a slip and fall accident, you will be treated as uninsured for the slip and fall claim.2
Whether your jurisdiction will apply the defense of mitigation of damages is very important. If you go to a slip and fall doctor that is out of your network in a state that would allow the defense, you may only be able to recover compensation for what your medical bills would have been if you stayed in network. This difference between in-network and out-of-network care can be substantial.
3. Does the doctor have experience treating slip and fall injuries?
You will usually want to go to a doctor who has experience treating slip and fall injuries. This is generally an orthopedic doctor who specializes in musculoskeletal injuries.
These doctors will know what to look for, based on the symptoms you present. They will also have a good idea of how treatment will progress and your prognosis for recovery. Furthermore, they will have seen how injuries like yours can lead to other medical conditions. That medical advice can give you an informed idea of how expensive your medical care will be. This can help you understand how much compensation you should be entitled to receive.
Additionally, doctors who have treated slip and fall accident victims will know what kinds of records they will have to keep for the subsequent litigation. The detailed notes and medical records that they take about your condition, care, and progress can help build your injury claim.
4. Does he or she have experience treating workers’ comp injuries?
If you slipped and fell at work, you may want to look for a doctor who has experience handling workers’ compensation cases. The documentation needed to file these claims can be different than for other types of cases. The doctor also may be called upon to provide a second opinion about your injuries or to challenge the diagnosis made by your employer’s medical professionals.
5. Does the doctor have an unbiased reputation?
You may also want to look for a doctor who has an unbiased reputation. Some doctors have a tendency to treat patients conservatively and to disbelieve their symptoms. Others may treat patients overly aggressively and without regard to the costs of the medical procedures.
Insurance companies representing defendants like both of these types of doctors. Conservative doctors keep the costs of the medical care as low as possible, reducing the compensation the insurance company will be liable for paying. If you go to a doctor who treats you aggressively, the insurer will claim that the treatment was not medically necessary.
Seeking out an injury doctor in the middle of these extremes can ensure you get the treatment that you need while still having a strong claim for compensation.
What are some common injuries in a slip and fall accident?
Some common types of injuries that victims sustain in a slip and fall accident include:
- broken bones in the wrist,
- broken arm,
- fractured elbow,
- shoulder trauma,
- broken collarbone,
- head injuries,
- concussion or some other traumatic brain injury (TBI),
- neck injury,
- muscle or tendon strains,
- ligament sprain,
- back injury,
- spinal cord injury,
- fractured pelvis,
- hip fracture,
- dislocated hip,
- fractured ankle,
- torn ACL or MCL in the knee, or
- knee injury.
Many of these serious injuries will require extensive medical care, including:
- emergency room care,
- diagnostic exams,
- pain management,
- occupational therapy,
- physical therapy, and
- chiropractic work.
A slip and fall lawyer can help you recover the compensation that you need and deserve.
What kinds of compensation am I entitled to receive?
If you have slipped, fallen, and gotten hurt, you deserve compensation for all of your losses that stem from the accident. That compensation should cover your:
- medical bills,
- costs for any reasonably anticipated future medical treatment,
- lost wages,
- lost earning capacity from any lasting disabilities,
- pain and suffering, and
- loss of consortium for your loved ones.
A personal injury lawyer or slip and fall attorney from a reputable law firm can help you recover the compensation you need from the negligent property owner.
- See, e.g., California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) No. 3930.
- Pebley v. Santa Clara Organics, LLC, 22 Cal.App.5th 1266 (2018).