Hiring an Attorney Can Actually Help Lower Costs after an Accident
When you have been injured in an accident, medical bills can quickly pile up. Even if your injuries are not terribly serious, the medical treatment and therapy required to heal, rehabilitate, and reduce the risk of further injury can wind up in the thousands of dollars. Not to mention any missed time from work and other expenses associated with being injured in an accident.
If your accident did not result in serious injury and the negligent party’s insurance company is likely to accept responsibility, you may not think that you need to hire an attorney. However, working with an experienced personal injury attorney can actually do way more than you may expect.
When Your Insurance Company Wants to be Reimbursed
In the personal injury world, insurance coverage, liability, and settlement can be incredibly complicated. But, think of this scenario:
You are driving down the highway on your way home from work, and you are rear-ended by another driver. You exchange insurance information and drive home. Later that evening, you start developing some pain in your neck and upper back. You seek medical treatment (maybe going to your primary care physician, getting referred to an orthopedic doctor, get an MRI, and get a prescription for physical therapy). You have health insurance, which is covering the majority of your visits. Because the other driver was clearly at fault for the accident, you expect to receive a settlement offer from their insurance company. However, what will happen to that money?
In some cases, you will be able to walk away with the lump amount of the settlement. However, your own health insurance company may assert a lien over the settlement and expect to be repaid for the medical costs it has already covered. This can become even more complicated if you received short-term disability payments while you had to stay home recovering from your injuries. If the health care provider you visited decided to wait to bill you until your settlement is finalized. If you received workman’s compensation because you were driving a company vehicle at the time of the accident. Each of these providers, who have spent money during your treatment and recovery process, may resurface and start looking to you when you receive a settlement offer from the negligent party’s insurance company. All too quickly, the lump payment you expected to receive is whittled down to a fraction. Pretty worrying, right?
But, it doesn’t have to work out this way.
Negotiating a Lien on a Personal Injury Settlement
As we have mentioned, personal injury settlement is a complex process, and there are a lot of factors to consider. That’s why it is a good idea to consider engaging an experienced professional to advocate on your behalf. First, not all companies that paid for medical costs, treatment, and other expenses actually have a right to be reimbursed. An experienced personal injury attorney can advocate on your behalf first by requiring providers to prove that they have a legal right to reimbursement. If they are able to do so, the real negotiation begins. This “right to reimbursement” is called a “lien.” A lien is a legal right that a company can assert on the settlement amount you expect to be paid for your injuries. Often, an insurance company, health care provider, or short-term disability insurer is authorized to reduce the amount of its lien against your settlement. Of course, they are not just going to offer a reduction, but an experienced personal injury attorney can negotiate on your behalf. If successful, an attorney can get providers to reduce the amount of money they expect to be repaid out of your settlement. Every dollar reduced is one back to you.
Working with an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney Can Make a World of Difference
At Wakefield Law, we have been working on personal injury matters for 30 years, and we’ve seen it time and again: those who are injured in an accident will receive a settlement offer from the negligent party’s insurance company and accept it. Then, they start to see their settlement check reduced by liens from every direction. Without an attorney advocating on their behalf people injured in accidents end up receiving way less than they deserve. To learn more about how a personal injury attorney may be able to help, give our office a call at 703-771-9740.