A Must Read for All Doctors Treating Auto Accident Patients

August 7, 2009

Auto Accidents

On July 23, 2009, the Ohio Supreme Court decided West Broad Chiropractic v. American Family Insurance.  For all Doctors that treat personal injury patients, this is a major decision that may impact you significantly. Pursuant to the decision, an automobile insurance company cannot be legally required to pay a Doctor directly or include the Doctor or Clinic name on the personal injury settlement check.

Prior to this West Broad decision, if the insurance company paid the patient directly at the conclusion of their claim, after receiving a copy of an assignment of benefits signed by the patient from the Doctor’s office, the insurance company could be sued directly by the Doctor for ignoring the assignment.

The Ohio Supreme Court has determined that an assignment executed by the patient at the beginning of their care is invalid because at that particular time, the patient does not have an existing right and therefore has nothing to assign. The Court further stated that since the patient has no direct right against the insurance company (in a third party claim), the patient could not assign a right to the Doctor that was greater than what the patient could pursue.

Quite simply, automobile insurance companies no longer have to honor assignments of benefits signed by patients. Previously, some of the larger insurance companies did not honor the assignment, however, because of the possibility of being sued directly and being required to pay a claim twice, most insurance companies woudl pay the Doctor separately or place the Doctor’s name on the settlement check.

One solution to this change in the law is to establish or maintain a patient referral relationship with a personal injury attorney that will aggressively represent your patients and protect your interest in the patient’s claim at the time of settlement.

At Slater & Zurz, LLP, our team of highly experienced and aggressive attorneys have a long history of building strong relationships with Doctors and representing their patients. Visit our website at www.slaterzurz.com to learn more and feel free to contact us today.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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