People are unfortunately hurt in car crashes in Fort Worth and Dallas every day. And to compound their injuries, enormous medical bills add up quickly.
Who pays for the ambulance, emergency room, diagnostic tests, doctors, and prescriptions — the other driver’s automobile liability company, your auto liability company, your health insurance company, government agencies, or the other driver? When? In full or will you have to pay some of the bills up front?
This can become a nightmare if it is not handled correctly from the start.
What should you do?
The problem begins when you cannot direct the ambulance driver to a hospital that takes your insurance or might accept you for financial reasons, such as John Peter Smith or Parkland. You probably don’t even know which hospitals are in-network on your insurance plan. And you may not even have a health insurance policy, or if you do, you might not have met the annual deductible yet or can’t afford the co-pays and other expenses.
But the EMTs are trained to rush you to the nearest ER so you can be diagnosed and treated for your injuries. Especially when computed tomography (CT) scans or magnetic resonance images (MRIs) are needed, your first day’s medical expenses can easily be $5,000 — and often $10,000 or more. There are horror stories like this all over the internet.
After you are released and go home, these bills begin to arrive. It is not until then that you may find out that
- the hospital has refused to file on your health insurance;
- if it does, that your Blue Cross Blue Shield coverage is denying or minimizing coverage;
- the hospital files the bills and is paid, then places a lien on your expected jury verdict or settlement and demands payment in full; and
- bill collectors are calling you and your credit is being hurt.
Many injured people assume that the at-fault driver’s insurance company will simply pay off each medical bill one by one. They should but the company usually waits until a settlement package is presented by an injury lawyer or a jury verdict is announced before making payment. If you have certain insurance benefits like Personal Injury Protection, your bills can be paid quickly.
This is how the frightening world of high health care costs is all too often piled onto injured drivers who are trying to get back to work—or even walking.
The best solution is to hire the best personal injury lawyer you can. Berenson Injury Law has worked diligently for the past 37 years fighting insurance companies to help its clients receive the settlement money they deserve. We know all too well that insurance companies are not in business to pay out large claims unless they have to and that they use the three D’s – deny, delay, and defend. If the amount offered is not reasonable, we file a lawsuit and ask a jury to award damages.
Here are some important things to know:
Fault: In Texas, you can recover compensation if you were partially at-fault, but only up to a point. If you are more than 51 percent at fault, you are on the line for the cost. That makes sense — you shouldn’t be allowed to cause a crash and still get paid. Of course, determining liability can sometimes be difficult, e.g. when both drivers claim they had the green light.
Settlement offer: A common tactic of insurance companies is to encourage you to settle your injury claim quickly, sometimes for $500. It is important to wait until all of your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages can be calculated. You deserve to know if you have fully recovered or need additional treatment or (God forbid) even a surgery. If you accept a settlement before you know what the lifetime costs of your injury might be, you could be in real trouble—especially if you have an undiagnosed or unresolved spinal cord, brain injury, or other severe medical issue.
Paying hospitals and doctors: With healthcare pricing out of control, your care could easily max out your own insurance while you are still being treated in the hospital. This is where hospital costs can become crippling. You may not have health insurance, yet the hospital will bill you for your care even when another driver was at fault.
If this happens, it is a good time to speak with an injury attorney in Fort Worth to negotiate a reduction in your bill or take legal action against the at-fault driver’s company to pay your medical fees.
How to increase your financial recovery
If you are left with enormous medical bills at the time your personal injury claim is settled or decided in court, you may see your compensation reduced to the amount of your outstanding medical expenses. This means money you may need to recover financially from being off work and to pay for past and future care is at risk of being funneled back into the medical system.
We fight to reduce excessive medical bills for our clients. The more money we can obtain and then save them, the more they get to keep. In other words, if you can get the often entire $30,000 policy limit from the other insurance company but have to pay out that amount for medical bills, you get zero. But if you can receive $30,000 and your car accident lawyer reduces your bills to $15,000, you make $15,000 (depending on the amount of legal fees and expenses), and that money is tax-free.
We take advantage of every possible means, including the new Senate Bill 507 which expanded an existing mediation program that helps policyholders work with their insurance companies to avoid outrageous, surprise medical bills.
If you are injured in a car wreck in North Texas, you should not delay getting medical help. Getting good medical care is your best chance at a full recovery and also creates the required medical records that will document the extent of your injury.
A good personal injury attorney can help you avoid what can become a frustrating and potentially ruinous process. Email or call us for a free consultation to discuss your car wreck case and learn how we can get your the compensation you deserve.