In Idaho, if you sustain a personal injury because another person was negligent, you must seek medical attention at once. After obtaining medical treatment, your next priority is obtaining advice and representation from an experienced Post Falls personal injury attorney.
But what can happen if you file a personal injury claim and you are unable to pay some or all of your medical bills while your personal injury claim is pending?
You’ll need a personal injury lawyer to help you obtain the compensation you need for your medical expenses, lost wages, and related losses and damages. You’ll also need that lawyer’s help to deal with medical liens or with any subrogation claims filed against your compensation.
WHO MAY PLACE A MEDICAL LIEN AGAINST A PERSONAL INJURY AWARD?
The healthcare professionals who frequently work with personal injury victims understand that a severe injury can victimize anyone. Some healthcare providers may even agree to a delayed payment and will wait to bill you until you receive your compensation.
These medical providers may require you to agree to a medical lien. A medical lien is a contract requiring your accident attorney to see that the medical provider is reimbursed from your compensation sum – before you even see the first dollar.
A medical lien may also limit the costs of an injury victim’s treatment or restrict the medical services a victim may obtain. Medical liens are quite common in Idaho personal injury cases.
If you’re injured, and another party pays all or some of your healthcare expenses – or withheld billing until you recovered your compensation – you will probably have to repay whoever paid for your healthcare services or agreed to bill you later.
WHAT IS THE LAW IN IDAHO REGARDING MEDICAL LIENS?
Medical liens “do not relate to assets, such as real property, owned by the injured person. Rather, medical provider liens are liens upon the causes of action, suits, claims, counterclaims, or demands which the injured person may have against an allegedly liable third party.”
Additionally, healthcare providers and facilities may “seek enforcement of their liens when the allegedly liable third party has some type of liability insurance coverage.”
Finally, the law states, “If the third party attempts to settle with the injured party without the medical provider’s consent and the release of its lien, the settlement is invalid and ineffectual.”
WHAT IS THE SUBROGATION PROCESS?
When an insurer, a medical professional, or a healthcare facility seeks reimbursement from your insurance settlement or personal injury verdict, the legal process is called “subrogation.”
Subrogation allows another party – such as your health or auto insurer – to pay your medical expenses and then to recover that amount from whatever party, in fact, has liability.
Even in simple and straightforward cases, subrogation can complicate matters considerably, so make certain to discuss with your personal injury lawyer how subrogation claims might affect your own case and any benefits, awards, verdicts, or settlements you might acquire.
HOW DOES SUBROGATION WORK?
Here’s how the subrogation process works. Let’s suppose that you slip and fall – and you’re seriously injured – on a wet floor in a restaurant, and your insurance company pays for $10,000 of your medical expenses.
Your insurance company now has a subrogation right – a right to be reimbursed by the restaurant’s liability insurer.
State and federal benefit programs usually require reimbursement for those benefits when a third party has liability for the benefit recipient’s disability or injury. Subrogation claims regularly are pursued by Medicare and by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Having an accident lawyer who routinely handles medical liens and subrogation claims is imperative if you’ve been injured by someone who was negligent.
WHAT ELSE WILL AN ACCIDENT ATTORNEY DO TO HELP?
Prevailing with a personal injury claim is only the first part of the personal injury process. A good accident attorney will help you recover the compensation you are legally entitled to – and will help you hold onto as much of that compensation as possible.
One aspect of subrogation is vital to understand. If you are injured by someone else’s negligence in a traffic accident or in any other accident scenario in Idaho, do not sign or agree to any settlement before you have the advice of a qualified Post Falls personal injury attorney.
Auto insurance companies, for example, may include a provision in the settlement papers that legally prevents your own insurance company from making a subrogation claim.
Should you sign such an agreement, your own insurance company will be unable to collect repayment, so any injury claim that you’ve filed will probably be rejected.
CAN MORE THAN ONE PARTY MAKE A SUBROGATION CLAIM?
In the most complicated personal injury cases, more than one party may claim a subrogation right. In this circumstance, you must be represented by a personal injury attorney who can bring order to the confusion.
What you have read here is only a brief introduction to medical liens and subrogation. These matters may not be an issue in your own case – if your savings are extensive or you have multiple income streams.
But for the average person, subrogation will probably be part of your personal injury case. Subrogation can become exceedingly complicated, so it is imperative to have an accident lawyer’s guidance and advice.
Without sound legal advice, the injured victims of negligence can pay out far more for subrogation claims than they are legally obligated to pay. You could also be targeted for “balance billing,” a practice that is illegal in some states – but not in Idaho.
WHAT IS BALANCE BILLING?
How can balance billing eat away at your personal injury compensation? Let’s say that a hospital’s listed cost for a standard x-ray is $150, but your health insurance company has arranged with the facility to cap chest x-ray payments at $100.
Who pays the other $50? Usually, the hospital simply writes off the loss. But it’s legal in Idaho for a hospital to come after a personal injury award and try to recover the $50 “write-off.”
That’s merely an example. Balance billing, in most cases, will cost a personal injury victim substantially more than $50.
You’ll need an attorney who makes certain that you are being billed legally and who can negotiate on your behalf if you’re targeted for balance billing.
You’ll need to be represented by an experienced Idaho personal injury lawyer if you are injured by someone else’s negligence in a traffic crash or any other accident. Having an attorney’s help is your right. If you’re injured by negligence in Idaho, get that help immediately.