Some skeptics might not believe this, but the main reason people contact me for help with their personal injury claim is because they want to get their medical bills paid. It’s not about “secondary gain” or “abusing the system,” but about making sure the victim isn’t out of pocket for something they didn’t cause.
Medical bills are a big deal. Treatment costs can be very high and there is an entire industry built around collecting on those bills, so you don’t want to ignore them.
My primary job is to make sure those bills get paid. If I represent you in your injury claim you can be that I’ll do my best to make sure that happens. Of course, my priority is you, not the medical providers, and there are some instances where those interests can be in conflict.
Some claims are weaker than others, and in those instances sometimes it doesn’t feel to the victim that there’s enough to go around. So I get this big question: Do I have to pay my medical bills from this settlement?
As with many legal questions, the most succinct answer is, “It depends.” But let me explain…
Regardless of the injury claim, you almost certainly owe the bills, right? You went to the provider, they provided a service, and they billed you. So of course you owe them. But do we HAVE to pay them FROM YOUR SETTLEMENT PROCEEDS?
The answer to that bit depends on the provider. When I request records/bills it is in the providers’ best interest to send me those records a) free of charge and b) with a note that says, in some form or another, that they are asserting a lien. By doing BOTH of those two things, they “perfect” their lien. That means their bill in some legal-mystical way attaches to the injury settlement and I cannot legally then ignore the bill; I, as your attorney, following the law, would HAVE to pay them SOMETHING.
If there’s enough to go around (more on that in a second) then I have to pay the whole bill for the lien holder. In instances where, after the attorney’s fee, the total amount of liens is greater than 1/2 of what’s left over, then I can do what’s called a pro-rata disbursement, which means I pay each lien holder a percentage of their bill. They don’t have to accept that as full and final satisfaction of the bill, but that does take care of our legal obligation to pay them something and also assures that you have something from the settlement. In the even the lien holder doesn’t accept that as full and final, then you still owe the balance, unfortunately (though you can often negotiate that down, depending on the situation).
If the provider does not perfect their lien, then the answer is simpler: I don’t have to pay them from the settlement proceeds. You can choose to tell me to pay them, but I don’t have to pay them from the settlement disbursement unless you tell me to do so (and that payment won’t prejudice a lien-holder). If you don’t pay them, you still owe, of course! But they don’t have a legal right to get paid from the settlement.
Look, this stuff gets complicated. That’s all the more reason you should hire me for your injury claim. So call me! 919-929-2992.