#1 MISTAKE: Your patient settling their claim before they’re done treating from a car accident
QUESTION: What is the most important thing my patient should do before settling their personal injury claim?
ANSWER: The most important thing your patient should do before settling their personal injury claim is to complete their medical treatment. If the adjuster for the other person’s carrier tries to get your patient to settle their claim, you should advise them not to until they’re done treating. It is the best way for them to protect themselves and continue to get the medical care they need.
Settling their claim before they’re done treating is the number one mistake your patient can make when it comes to their personal injury claim.
While this is an obvious statement, the real question is — how do you help your patients avoid this mistake? How can you minimize the likelihood of finding out they’ve already settled their case? They could’ve been treating with you for a month or a week when you find out that they’ve already settled their claim.
You can develop a process to minimize the chances of it actually happening. Having a protocol that explains the important do’s and don’ts in dealing with the insurance company when you first meet your patient, will help protect them.
You could say to them, or have it in writing, “If the insurance company adjuster for the other person’s carrier tries to get you to settle your claim, you should not do that until you are done treating.” You can emphasize how important it is and if they have any concerns or doubts, you can say , “You should consider talking to an attorney. It’s not going to cost you, there’s no commitment by talking with them, and you will get good advice on why you should not consider settling your claim until you are done treating.”
Did you know under Oregon law, if a case is settled within the first sixty days of the car accident happening, your patient can take back the settlement as long as that happens within five business days of them having settled the claim?
So if you find out that your patient settled the claim and it was just a couple days earlier, and within the sixty day time period, you can have them contact an attorney immediately so they can take the settlement back. Once those five days have passes, there’s little they can do about it.
Having a system that allows you to forewarn your patient about why they shouldn’t settle their case until they’re done treating is the best way to help protect themselves and continue to get the medical care they need.