Articles Posted in Insurance

dreamstime_s_20865098Air ambulance bills are sky high

When 17-year Colton Lightfoot crashed his motorcycle, his parents didn’t hesitate when doctors suggested that he rushed to the emergency room by air ambulance. At that alarming moment, they didn’t think to ask questions like how much that would cost or whether their insurance covered it in full or at all.  Naturally all they cared about was their son’s recovery.

But nothing could prepare the East Texas family for the enormity of the bill for that flight — $58,000. After their health insurance carrier only paid $15,000, they were stuck with a whopping $43,000 bill. And many of these carriers refuse to pay all medical bills when they find out that they were the result of a car wreck.

Their story is typical and I’ve seen the victims of car accidents grapple with this serious problem. Continue reading

main_600-300x162Almost every adult in the Houston area owns a car. Now hundreds of thousands of vehicles have been ruined by the torrential rainfall. This, added to the loss of life and staggering property and commercial damage, has become the worse natural disaster in the history of the United States.

Insurance companies have received more than 100,000 Harvey-related auto insurance claims. That number is expected to reach 500,000.

As car owners begin to review their policies, some might get an unwelcome surprise. Policies that seemed just fine at the time they were signed might actually exclude the types of damages caused by Harvey.

Unfortunately many car owners figured flooding was highly unlikely and opted for lower premiums instead of comprehensive coverage.

The thing about insurance is you have to predict what you might need and decide whether paying higher premiums is worthwhile. You could potentially pay premiums for a lifetime and never file a claim. Or, as with Harvey, your insurance might be a financial lifesaver. In many ways, it’s a gamble. But usually choosing the better coverage pays off. Continue reading

Our High Rate Of Uninsured And Underinsured Motorists Is A Serious Problem

Last week local drivers started being stopped by police to see if they had licenses and liability insurance. DL-signIt’s about time. I hope other police departments in the Dallas Fort Worth area start doing this. It’s for our own protection.

At just one checkpoint, police wrote 36 citations and ticketed 24 uninsured drivers on Bardin Road in Arlington in just a 1½-hour period.

With 1.6 million uninsured drivers, Texas was in the top five states last year. While our officials estimate that 13 percent of drivers in the state do not have car insurance, as a personal injury lawyer I have seen that this number is much higher. The Dallas News estimated the number of uninsured drivers in Dallas County at 16%.

But that doesn’t count the drivers who officially have insurance and the policy expired or is fraudulent, or the driver has been excluded from coverage, hits and runs, disappears, denies responsibility, or fails to cooperate with his insurance carrier.

The checkpoints have exposed important information about the high number of uninsured drivers driving in North Texas (photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune). What happens if you are hit by one of these drivers? Who will pay your damages?

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Mary-McLin-in-wheel-chair-300x225And do I even need a personal injury lawyer?

Important questions you are probably asking if you have been injured in a car wreck are

  • how much money can I get from the other driver and his insurance company?
  • won’t they pay me as much money as I want? 
  • will a lawyer charge me so much that I should just represent myself?

These are all great questions. I’ve been asked them countless times over the past 37 years as an injury lawyer in Fort Worth.

And I get it. I don’t like paying for something I could do myself either – if I have the skill and time, which I often don’t.

Here I’ll give you answers that will help you make a good decision about your car wreck case.

I’ve discussed this topic repeatedly on my web site, in a book for injury attorneys, and at a presentation to the members of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association at its annual conference.

And I think about how do this every day: how to get the most compensation for my clients, make the insurance company pay my fee, cut my client’s medical bills, and put as much money as possible into his bank account as quickly as possible. Continue reading

dreamstime_s_35800476-2-200x300New Policy Refuses to Pay Bills For Patients Diagnosed with Non-emergency Condition

If you have been injured in a car accident in Fort Worth, how do you know whether your serious symptoms are a true “medical emergency?” You don’t. Only a doctor can know that,

That’s precisely the problem with the latest trend in health insurance that will deny payment of emergency room bills if the insurance company arbitrarily decides that your visit was not necessary.

Effective on July 1st, this new rule was started by two of the largest companies, Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Anthem, in three states.

You’ll get stuck with a huge bill from the hospital, ER, radiologist, specialists, and ambulance. After many car crashes, these charges can quickly add up to well over $10,000.00.

This unbelievable policy forces patients to immediately and correctly diagnose their injuries as they sit in their cars dazed or lie on the side of the road after a car wreck. They will have to weigh the risks of going to the emergency room versus waiting-and-hoping for the best. The repercussions of getting it wrong are enormous. What if they are have a broken bone, herniated disc, or brain bleed and don’t know it?

This is a serious problem for the victims of automobile wrecks — and for every one else.

You know that since this new policy will save the health insurance companies a ton of money, the other companies will adopt this infuriating idea and take it nationwide.

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IMG_4564-300x154After a car wreck, you are often rushed by ambulance to an emergency room for immediate treatment.  Before the ambulance arrives or later as you lay in the ER bed, you assume that your Aetna or Blue Cross will pay for all of your bills, right?

No, not necessarily. It’s a complicated system that is extremely anti-patient for these reasons:

  • If your health insurance plan should decide to pay the bills, it usually files a lien and demands full reimbursement from your car wreck settlement or verdict.
  • Your hospital may be out of network,
  • Your Aetna plan may say that it is secondary to the at-fault driver’s primary auto insurance policy and refuse to pay anything, and/or
  • You may not have met your annual deductible or have a large co-pay.

You won’t know this until later. Much later. What happens then?

You are stuck paying for $10,000 and often more of medical bills. You take it for granted that the other driver’s insurance company will reimburse you in full, and still give you plenty of extra money for your lost wages, pain and suffering and other damages.

Good luck if you don’t have an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side.

And to make matters worse, the emergency room department will also generate a separate bill which runs from $500 to $3,000 or more. This may also not get paid for the above reasons.

The hospital will file a lien so they get paid in full — or has the lien reduced by your attorney. Take a look at horrible story in today’s paper about a Good Samaritan who just had a $151,000 hospital lien filed on her after she had to have her legs amputated.

And a new bill has been approved by the Texas Senate that unfortunately allows emergency room physicians to also file a lien for their bills that must be paid from the proceeds and clarifies that any ER admission qualifies for the payment. SB 2066 will further reduce the amount of money an injured person will receive for his damages and I hope it does not get passed by the Texas House of Representatives and signed into law.

But at least there’s a little good news. State lawmakers just passed a bill that gives patients some recourse. The bill does not go as far as I would like but it is a good start to resolving this ludicrous system that hurts Texans. I urge Gov. Abbott to sign SB 507 so it becomes law.

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dreamstime_xs_21813548A new law is closing down a deceptive billing practice that was costing seniors millions of dollars.  The NOTICE Act described in this revealing New York Times article requires hospitals to start telling seniors if they are not officially being “admitted” after 24 hours. Before this, a senior could be “observed” in the hospital and nursing home for days — even months — but not officially be admitted for Medicare purposes so they got stuck with huge medical bills.

A personal injury lawyer represents many Medicare-eligible people (someone who is 65 or older, or is younger than that if he or she is disabled or who has certain diseases) after they are injured in collisions.

How will the new law affect you?

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dreamstime_xs_55797100My health insurance company isn’t paying?!

Getting crashed into is a bad enough experience — made worse if  you can get slammed with enormous medical bills for your treatment. Our new clients often come to Berenson Injury Law with a small stack of past due statements and letters from bill collectors. Bills can sometimes reach hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Problems arise when your health insurance company doesn’t cover all of these bills. This is a difficult problem for personal injury lawyers to contend with. What can you do to protect yourself?

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insurance -- policy, calculator, dollars and key

With sincere slogans like you’re in good hands and you can rely on us, commercials for insurance companies make them sound like they are your best friends.

But they are businesses whose primary purposes are to make money. How do they do that? By denying or minimizing payments on claims. 

That’s why you’d be smart to hire a good personal injury lawyer to explain how the often complicated automobile accident process works before you pick up the phone after your wreck.

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If you have collision coverage, personal injury protection, or have to file on your own uninsured motorists benefits because the at-fault driver is not insured or you were involved in a hit and run, you must notify your insurance company. 

And if you know which insurance company the at-fault driver is covered by, you want to immediately call them to demand they pay your medical bills, fix or total your car, and get you a rental car.

They will routinely ask that you give them a recorded statement. But you don’t have to give one to the other driver’s company, and you should not give one to your own company right away. 

In Texas, the standard insurance policy only requires that you promptly notify your own company, and there is no time deadline on advising the other driver’s carrier. You are likely to feel anxious and be in pain, and possibly affected by painkillers prescribed to treat your pain.

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car crash -- man examining damage after front car crash

After a car wreck, mounting medical bills and lost income will cause you financial hardship and stress. So you may be enticed by the quick settlement offer the other driver’s insurance adjuster promises if you cooperate with him. But relying on him will slash the financial recovery you are entitled to. Just say no. Call a good personal injury lawyer instead.

Insurance Companies Are Businesses, Not Friends


Remember, an insurance company is never your “good neighbor” and you are not “in good hands” with one. Just the opposite, it is a business that has only one objective: maximizing its profit. 

The biggest cost to an insurance company is payments made by adverse claimants or its own policyholders. The adjuster is a highly trained employee who has every incentive to reduce these payments as much as possible.

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