DO I NEED A PERSONAL INJURY LAWYER?
We are often asked by people “do I need to hire a personal injury lawyer?”
At first, we fight the urge to joke about the fact that you are asking a personal injury lawyer whether or not you need to hire a personal injury lawyer. The old saying about a fox guarding the hen house comes to mind. But there is no denying that this is a legitimate question because the answer is not always “yes.”
People are often surprised to learn of the complexities involved in making a personal injury claim.
While there are the seldom occasions where the claim is cut and dry, and thereby pretty simple to handle on your own, these cases are rare. To begin with, there are a lot of businesses out there looking to capitalize on your injury claim.
Many people are surprised to learn that area hospitals will intentionally not file your Emergency Room Bill with your health insurance.
Billing specialists are trained to tell you upon discharge “you don’t want this to go on your health insurance, do you? It’s better to make the car insurance pay this bill.” This practice preys upon most people’s misunderstanding of how car insurance works.
You think it sounds right to have the car insurance pay your ER bill. Unfortunately, all that is going to happen is that the hospital is going to file a lien against your potential claim against the other driver.
The hospital will do this because the claim of lien is for the total amount of the bill; and the hospital can literally bill whatever it feels like billing.
If the bill were submitted to your health insurance company, the hospital would have to accept the amount negotiated with the health insurance company. Further complicating matters for the injured victim, most of the ER bills subject to a hospital lien go into collections affecting the victim’s credit score.
Furthermore, the lien must be paid in full out of whatever you recover from the at-fault party. If the at-fault driver’s insurance company is not interested in offering you enough money to pay the lien, you will be forced to decide between filing a law suit or paying the difference out of your own pocket.
Another matter to be cognizant of is what to do when your health insurance carrier does in fact pay your medical bills.
Every health insurance contract contains a provision that states if your health insurance pays benefits on your behalf because of an injury caused by a third party, you have to pay those benefits back to the health insurance company if you obtain a recovery from that third party or their car insurance provider.
This process is known as subrogation.
You will likely receive a questionnaire from your health insurer asking for the details of your claim. If you fail to fill out this questionnaire properly, your health insurer will refuse to pay your medical bills for you.
If you reach a settlement with the at-fault driver’s car insurance company, you are required to provide statutory notice to your health insurer, giving your health insurer 10 days to finalize the amount they claim you are required to pay back. While every health insurance provider will claim legal entitlement to be paid back, many health insurance providers have no such legal right.
An investigation into the health insurance company’s IRS form 5500 documents will reveal whether or not the health insurance plan is absolutely entitled to be paid back. Several other factors go into whether or not all other health insurance companies have any legal standing to be paid back.
So the question someone should start with when deciding whether or not they need to hire a personal injury lawyer is this:
“Am I comfortable navigating these insurance complexities while also trying to focus on getting better from my injuries?”
We find that the anxiety and frustration people experience trying to navigate this process on their own slows down the healing process.
This is understandable seeing how most people do not have to deal with these issues on a regular basis. Someone who is recovering from a car wreck should not be worrying about whether or not the adjuster has the authority to say how many visits you can make to a doctor; or whether or not you have to submit to a recorded statement.
The injured person should be focused solely on recovering from their injuries. If you want to free yourself from the anxieties and frustrations of dealing with the hospital, the health insurance company, the car insurance adjuster, and simply focus on getting better, then you should hire a personal injury attorney.
There are some instances, though when you do not need the assistance of a personal injury attorney. If liability for causing your injury is clear and you were fortunate not to suffer an injury that required any follow up treatment, you can probably handle your case on your own. When people come to Tidwell Strimban Injury Lawyers for a free consultation, and it is clear that it is the type of claim that does not
warrant our involvement, our attorneys and staff will give you the information you need to get started handling the claim on your own. Even though we do not take a fee on such cases, we are happy to help you get the outcome you deserve in such cases.