There are any number of causes for accrued medical debt in the United States. One common cause occurs when you’re involved in an accident and must turn to the courts to resolve issues of liability. When that happens, most people don’t know what steps to take regarding their medical bills.
You may be asking yourself: Do I have to pay my lawyer, my insurance company, and my medical provider? Does my lawyer have to pay my medical bills? Do I even need a personal injury attorney to help me? How does it all work?
While a personal injury lawyer is not responsible for paying your medical bills out of their own pocket, they will handle the transfer of finances from your accident-related compensation.
Your insurance company, or the person found responsible for causing the accident, will pay a predetermined amount, and your attorney will divvy out the funds accordingly.
Lawyers play a vital role in facilitating post-accident financial obligations. However, if you want to maximize your personal payout, you must understand your rights and responsibilities. This article will help you understand the extent to which a personal injury attorney can help you financially recover following an accident. We will also discuss whether a medical billing advocate may be able to provide even more lucrative assistance.
- How Lawyers are Responsible for Their Client's Medical Bills
- Medical Bills and Legal Considerations
- 6 Ways to Reduce Medical Expenses
- Medical Bill Advocates v. Attorneys: Who Should You Hire?
- Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Bills After Death
- Does My Lawyer Have to Pay Medical Bills? Final Thoughts
How Lawyers are Responsible for Their Client’s Medical Bills
Whether you are injured in an automobile accident or any other incident, you will most likely need the services of a personal injury lawyer. These professionals have intimate knowledge of the legal system concerning car accidents, medical accidents, and other situations where you have medical bills because of someone else’s mistake.
Depending on your specific case, your personal injury attorney may be responsible for divvying out cash from your total settlement to various parties, including insurance companies.
A lawyer can never reach into their own pocket to pay your medical bills. At most, they manage finances and distribute accident-related payments.
The average lawyer will not, for example:
- Negotiate with medical providers for lower fees;
- Work with Medicaid, Medicare, or other entities to ensure you receive the maximum amount you’re owed; or
- Examine and review your medical bills for potential errors or mischarges.
Medical Bills and Legal Considerations
If your medical bills relate to a court case, you and your attorney must work together to identify the approach that works best for you.
Personal Injury Protection and Special Damages
If you have personal injury protection (“PIP”) through your insurance company, most of your medical expenses should be covered. Personal injury protection is a special supplemental insurance that you often get in conjunction with car insurance. Depending on your PIP coverage, you may also be entitled to special damages as part of your settlement, such as reimbursement for lost wages. Other types of compensation may be available through PIP coverage. Your lawyer will be able to help determine the various types of compensation that may be available to you through your insurance policy, so make sure you provide your lawyer with a copy of your insurance policy.
Subrogation is another important term with which you should be familiar. If you’re involved in an accident, you may require medical care before your case goes to court. Generally, your insurance provider should cover those medical expenses. Then, if the court determines that you were not at fault and someone else was, subrogation allows your insurance company to seek repayment for those medical expenses from the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Medical liens are the legal version of a medical provider putting “dibs” on any accident-related compensation. Your ultimate compensation will likely be reduced by the amount of medical expenses incurred.
6 Ways to Reduce Medical Expenses
Whether or not you retain an attorney, there are plenty of things that you can do to reduce your medical costs.
1. Receive an Itemized Bill
Insist on an itemized bill for any accident-related charges, including medical expenses. This will allow you or an experienced medical billing specialist to check for billing errors, double charges, and incorrect charges.
2. Negotiate Medical Bills
When it comes to reducing your medical bills, it never hurts to ask. By kindly calling your healthcare provider and explaining your financial situation, they might be willing to negotiate for a lower price.
3. Contact Medical Providers and Insurers
You or someone on your behalf should also contact the specific medical and insurance providers to discuss the specific facts and circumstances of your case.
4. File an Appeal for Insurance Claims
If your insurance company initially decides not to assist you, you have the right to appeal. The company must then give you a detailed, legal excuse for the denial. Appeals are best handled with the assistance of a legal professional.
5. Ask for Financial Aid
If you go through all these steps and still have hefty medical bills, other entities may be able to help. The government, private programs, and charities may offer financial assistance to people with medical bills that they can’t afford.
6. Seek Assistance from Medical Billing Advocates
Just like lawyers have intimate knowledge of the legal system, medical billing advocates have intimate knowledge of the medical system. As such, they can help you examine, negotiate, and ultimately eliminate your medical bills. Anyone with outstanding medical bills will benefit from hiring a medical billing advocate.
Medical Bill Advocates v. Attorneys: Who Should You Hire?
Attorneys handle legal issues. Medical billing advocates, on the other hand, are your number one resource for hefty medical bills. At the very least, medical billing advocates will ensure that the healthcare providers and insurance companies are dealing honestly.
Here are some other ways a medical billing advocate can help you repay your medical bills:
- Review and negotiate medical bills;
- Spot billing and coding errors;
- Negotiate payment plans; and
- Explore alternative repayment options, programs, and financial aid.
Even if your medical bills are directly related to a legal issue, you will benefit from hiring a medical bill advocate.
Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Bills After Death
Does My Lawyer Have to Pay Medical Bills? Final Thoughts
Outside of the courtroom, lawyers only handle the negotiation and repayment processes. They cannot and will not pay your medical bills. That responsibility falls to you and your insurance providers.
Because of how complicated this process can be, you will likely benefit from hiring a healthcare and medical billing consultant. Together, you can negotiate for lower medical bills, explore repayment options, and formulate a plan. Contact us for more details and to schedule a consultation.