If you’re injured in a motor vehicle collision you may need treatment and rehabilitation, and time off work to recover. For many, thoughts quickly turn to how they’ll cover those costs – bills that can soon add up, especially if you’re missing your regular paycheck.
This is a common question, explains Ziad Youssef, founder of mytrafficman.net, which provides legal care for victims of serious auto accidents, in addition to DUI and traffic tickets. Attorney Youssef points out that, “If you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, your medical treatment will be covered up to the PIP limit. If you don’t have PIP coverage, you have to look for secondary coverage like health insurance.”
Those without PIP coverage or health insurance must look for other options that may be available, such as government benefits, medical liens and sliding scales or repayment options.
- Government Benefits: For serious injuries causing disability or extended inability to return to work, federal and state governments may provide coverage through Medicaid disability. However, approval can take several weeks, and may also require an appeal of an initial denial, which could take months.
- Medical Liens: For serious injuries where significant surgeries or medical treatment is required, the wait for disability benefits may be the only other option, but for less serious injuries, medical providers may let you defer payment for medical services in exchange for a lien against any claim or lawsuit you bring against the at fault party. Where this is possible, they’ll either not send your bill to collections, or not refuse treatment, so long as you acknowledge a lien for the benefit of the provider. That means a lien will be placed on the settlement to ensure that the provider gets paid when settlement proceeds are paid.
- Sliding scales and repayment programs: Finally, if the client has already incurred medical bills and service providers are unwilling to wait until the matter is settled, the provider may have a sliding scale or other kinds of repayment programs that keep you out of collections until the case resolves.
What can you expect from a settlement if you hire a lawyer?
In determining their offers, insurance companies typically consider various factors related to injured clients:
- The number of days spent in the hospital
- The seriousness and permanency of the injuries
- The severity of the collision,
- The length and frequency of treatment and rehabilitation
- The amount of lost wages now and in the future,
- Any accompanying pain and suffering you’ve documented
After more than 16 years practicing personal injury law, Ziad explains that “settling on a financial amount during negotiations is based on the amount a court may award if the case were heard in front of a jury, but it’s guided by what is the best benefit to the client.”
After reaching an acceptable settlement amount, the personal injury team at mytrafficman.net verifies what liens are outstanding and prepares a draft accounting of the distribution of the proceeds. The Settlement Statement starts with a “gross recovery” amount, from which deductions are taken, including the contingency fee and expenses.
The lien payouts or payments for outstanding medical bills are paid next, with the remainder paid to the client.