I’m in my 24th year of being a lawyer. One thing that makes me a huge lawyer nerd is that I get excited by new fact patterns or scenarios. It’s not as fun as helping someone, but it’s refreshing to know that you haven’t heard/seen it all.
I thought of this on a recent call from an injured Chicago worker. She asked a question I had never been asked before. She wanted to know if her brother could be her treating doctor. He is a family practice physician, and she has a leg injury.
So could he be her doctor? There is no law against it. But it would be a terrible idea for a couple of reasons.
First off, it looks suspicious. If he recommends a bunch of treatment and an insurance company IME doctor says you don’t need it, that could be a problem. In my opinion, an Arbitrator will assume a family member is biased in their medical opinions if your case goes to trial. It also wouldn’t surprise me if the insurance company denied medical care just because you are treating with a family member.
Second, in this case, she has a serious leg injury. Those injuries should be treated by orthopedic doctors. Her brother could be the best, most honest family practice doctor in the world. That still wouldn’t make him the right physician for a serious leg injury. You want and need a doctor who deals with those problems every day and is constantly reviewing MRI’s, physical therapy results, discussing surgery, etc.
In both cases, you are giving the insurance company a reason to fight your case which you don’t want to do.
All that said, having a family member who is a medical professional is a tremendous resource. There is nothing wrong with asking them for a recommendation to an orthopedic doctor. That is a much different scenario than trying to get the insurance company to pay them for giving you care. And I’d bet that if your brother or sister recommended an orthopedic doctor to you, that person would give you the best treatment possible based on who your sibling is.
So while I appreciated the unique question, I highly recommended that she not do what she wanted to do. And if you are looking for a lawyer, whether us or anyone else, if your attorney won’t tell you the truth instead of what you want to hear, it’s a bad sign.