Don’t Take That Patient! When Chiropractors and Lawyers Must Say ‘No’

By Dennis Beaver

August 24, 2021

Today’s story will be of special interest to both chiropractors and personal injury lawyers who have recently started their own practice and are tempted to accept just about anyone who has been in an auto accident.

“This can be a monumental mistake,” warns California attorney Shawn Steel. His practice concentrates on personal injury law and strongly supports the chiropractic profession. He lectures at Palmer West Chiropractic, Life Chiropractic College West and Southern California University of Health Sciences.

“If there is one professional area where attorneys and chiropractors should be on the same page it is in recognizing when to say “Thanks for coming to see me, but I don’t think that my office will be able to help you.” He provided this list of red flags that must be recognized and immediately acted upon.

Beware of the wandering thief

This person’s goal in life is to take advantage of anyone whose path they cross. They intend to cheat you before even walking through your door.

They may have a legitimate accident case. They may be hurt. But their sole objective is a payout in their pockets and not yours! If the doctor recommends that they have an attorney, the wandering thief will strongly object! An attorney would require a signed lien — assuring payment of all bills and attorney fees — but without it, and aftercare is complete:
(A) The wandering thief fires the lawyer;

(B) Negotiates the case themselves with the insurance adjuster;

(C) Gets all the money, pays none of the treatment bills or attorney fees. Then they vanish.

The giveaway for the lawyer is that, after signing the retainer agreement, the client will pressure the lawyer to have the doctor order lots of medical testing, to generate high bills.

Once a settlement amount is negotiated — but not paid — they will be unhappy with the numbers, fire the lawyer and try to settle the case themselves. Even if the attorney’s name is on the settlement check, they forge the lawyer’s name, take the money, and disappear.

The know-it-all

These people know more than the doctor and the lawyer combined. They constantly second guess the doctor and argue with their lawyer, consuming a tremendous amount of time and energy. It is usually better for your mental health to let that know-it-all patient go! This person brings nothing but aggravation to the lawyer’s office, often saying things like, “I had a friend who with the same facts as my case settled for eight times as much as you want me to take, so what’s wrong with you?”

The grouch, a first cousin to the know-it-all

The grouch is easy to spot. Your staff are the first ones to notice that you’ve got a grouch in your office. Always listen to your staff as they will tell you the truth.

The grouch complains about everything! They blame the staff for not setting their appointment as the best time, not giving them adequate advance notice, and make up stuff to complain about. They take the joy out of practice for both doctors and lawyers. They are miserable human beings. While it is best to unload this grouch, you can try to rescue the situation by saying, “If you want to stay with us, you need to stop complaining.”

The schizophrenic: A first cousin to the grouch, a real-life version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

This person is nice to you but miserable to your staff: insulting and yelling. However, they are as sweet as cotton candy to you. Give them one warning: “Yell at my staff one more time, and you are out of here! No one deserves to be spoken to the way you treat people.”

Doctors and lawyers need to understand there is a great liberation when you let that person go. Mentally you are free from a burning, destructive sensation in your life. Neither you nor your staff should have to experience this.

The doctor/lawyer hopper

These people immediately trash the last lawyer/doctor who was handling their case. If it is just one attorney or one doctor, that can happen. But if it is multiple doctors or lawyers? You must think, “This person will never be happy with me, no matter what I do. So why go through the effort as I will no doubt get fired anyway.” Decline to accept them.

This person gives me a bad feeling!

If there is something inherently negative between you and this potential patient/client, do not accept them. You do not need a reason. It may not be rational but trust your inner voice. “Trust the Force!”

A business prof offers his formula

Lyle Sussman, the former chairman, and professor of Management, College of Business, University of Louisville offered this recommendation for anyone in business who needs to say “no.”

“Say no if there is a disconnect — differing expectations — between what the person thinks you will provide and what you know you can deliver.

“Every plastic surgeon can tell a story about a patient disappointed because the procedure did not produce the gorgeous effect they anticipated."

Dennis Beaver

Dennis Beaver practices law in Bakersfield and welcomes comments and questions from readers, which may be faxed to 661-323-7993, or emailed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Also, visit

Click here for more information about Shawn Steel..


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