This blog post was prompted by Injury Board reader Willard Gatzke from Colorado. In my last post re: neutral 3rd party observers sitting in on examinations by insurance company doctors, Mr. Gatzke posted a comment re: his story in Colorado and how these "for hire" doctors terminated his long term medical benefits.
His comment got me thinking about what recourse, if any we have here in Michigan against these "doctors"? If you’re a new reader,prior posts of mine tell the story of doctors hired by insurance companies who have had their licenses revoked, have been the subject of investigation by the state, who have failed out of medical school or have medical illnesses that prevent them from performing a proper examination.
The question for readers of this InjuryBoard.com blog is, "what rights do I have against these "hired guns".
Well, in Michigan, not many, but it might be getting better. Since there is no doctor patient relationship in these exams, holding the doctor accountable for performing a 15 minute/less than thorough/totally biased exam does not exist in Michigan.
But, if they injure you physically during the exam, you have a cause of action.
One of the more notorious insurance company medical examiners in Michigan is Doctor Ed Trachtman. He is a favorite of insurance companies looking to cut off benefits to their insureds. In fact, State Farm used over 450 times in a 5 year period. We see him often in our auto accident cases where the insurance company is looking to cut off medical benefits.
Without going into the hundred’s of thousands of dollars he makes each year from doing solely insurance company medical exams or any of the other documented areas of bias including a medical condition that prevents him from performing a proper exam, let’s look at the time when he actually physically injured a person while trying to perform an exam for his employer, the insurance company.
Dyer v. Trachtman is the case. In this case, Mr. Dyer told Dr. Trachtman that his doctor said not to lift his shoulder above a certain level. Dr. Trachtman ignored this and shoved the man’s elbow up into the air and tore out his shoulder. The Michigan courts allowed Mr. Dyer to file suit against Dr. Trachtman and Dyer successfully sued Dr. Trachtman for the damage he caused to Mr. Dyer’s shoulder.
This isn’t much protection from these insurance company doctors, but it’s a start. In fact, the House of Representatives drafted a bill that may provide Michigan consumers even more protection from these predatory doctors. Stay tuned for more information…..