he biggest secret of personal injury is that there are no real secrets, only formulas for success and conversely, formulas for failure. Marketing and advertising in the form of breakfasts, lunches and dinners, theater and ballgame tickets, holiday gifts, newsletters, fliers, and e-mails are a waste of your money when considering a formula for success for the balance of your career. Marketing and advertising will drive a few patients into your practice, but once the lawyers see your work, that usually means you are “one-and-done”—they send you one patient and are done with you . . . forever. For a lawyer to be able to work with you, then your work must be admissible and you need to be the “best-of-the-best” through clinical excellence, which has nothing to do with your ability to treat patients successfully.
You may consider a “smoke and mirrors” strategy and employ a program to beat or “bust” the insurance companies’ computer systems. How many other doctors in the healthcare community practice those standards? The answer is very few, and it can be seen as a way to obfuscate the facts in order to gain more business from the legal community. This tactic can be used against you in the courtroom when representing your patients, or in front of a licensure board while defending your license by using tactics that are not consistent with other healthcare providers and specifically designed toward winning legal cases versus representing the findings of your patients. You do not need smoke and mirrors to win, only clinical excellence, and there are no shortcuts. This avenue renders potential significant exposure.
Clinical excellence is about being a true specialist in disc pathology, spine pathology, neuropathology, crash dynamics, triaging the injured, spinal biomechanical engineering, and MRI spine interpretation, as a start. It doesn’t mean you need a doctorate in each topic, but at the very least, you need formal credentials through the “right” continuing education courses and accredited bodies. You need a knowledge base in as many of these subjects as possible. How many of us know the precise difference between a herniated, bulged, protruded, and extruded disc? To succeed in personal injury, this question encompasses the bare basics, and many do not know the answers, yet want to be trauma-related practitioners.
The lawyer has many choices for referrals and your competition is not solely other chiropractors, but also orthopedists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, etc. With the credentials behind you, the legal community can have an opportunity to get either your testimony admitted in court or use you as leverage in settlements. The chiropractor also has one very big advantage over specialists in the other disciplines. Medical specialists, historically, see a patient once or twice, yet chiropractors treat a patient once, twice, sometimes three times a week for many weeks and understands the continuity of care, a critical necessity for both helping patients get well and helping lawyers win cases.
The personal injury community is changing based upon my years of market research in communicating personally with 80,000 to 90,000 lawyers in 22 states. In years past, lawyers were happy for your referrals as motivation to refer back to you. However, with the current, more stringent standards of the courts, lawyers are less interested in many of your referrals, particularly if they are “stuck” with you and your lack of credentials and deficient documentation, preventing them from being able to get your testimony admitted. What good is a case to a lawyer if the primary expert is unqualified and his or her work is not admissible in court? You must understand that a lawyer will not start with you if he or she cannot finish with you. We must never lose sight of the fact that the “end game” for lawyer is the courtroom. Although all parties realize they rarely get there, how you will fare on the witness stand is the way a lawyer will judge you initially and the basis for having a referral relationship.
Every other doctor in the community is begging for referrals unsuccessfully.
Should you, the chiropractor, be that clinically excellent doctor, have your work in an admissible format, have the credentials for a court to qualify you as an expert, and understand from a first-hand perspective the continuity of care, you now have an opportunity to win. All that is missing is a system to get the lawyer to run after you because if you ask for a referral, you lose. Every other doctor in the community is begging for referrals unsuccessfully. So if you do the same, then we go back to the definition of insanity, which is “doing the same thing and expecting different results.” You will lose, too. You need to get lawyers to run after you.
Once the legal community understands that you are an expert in triaging the injured and have the requisite credentials behind you with a network of medical specialists to refer to as clinically indicated, a significant paradigm shift will occur. Both the lawyers and those medical specialists will seek your counsel on cases and want you as the “personal injury quarterback.”
Lawyers will seek you out because you are the solution to their soft tissue cases and, generally, medical specialists are too expensive for them. Medical specialists will seek you out because they cannot afford to screen cases with such high malpractice rates. They want to start with prescreened patients who need their procedures. From the perspective of lawyers and medical specialists, it’s always about the finances of their practices. Through clinical excellence in an honest and ethical perspective, you will become that “quarterback” in personal injury cases.
This formula has worked for years in 43 different states and has been directly responsible for well over 100,000 personal injury referrals purely based upon the doctor of chiropractic’s clinical excellence. We do not market to lawyers at all, and neither should you because it doesn’t work, no matter the disguise of alcohol, food, or gifts. What lawyers want is to win their cases in an honest and ethical environment by using you as an expert. Once you become the reason they win, it’s game over and you perpetually receive their referrals for the balance of your career.
More articles by this author