Who pays the medical bills after an auto accident

Who pays the medical bills after an auto accident?

If you were injured in a car accident in Illinois, you may wonder who pays the medical bills after an auto accident? Continue reading to find Auto Accident ILout who will pay your medical bills or contact me for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Warning

There are several ways to pay for medical bills after an auto accident. But before we discuss that, I want to advise you of a common misperception people have. The auto insurance for the driver of the vehicle that hit you will NOT pay your medical bills until your case settles.

As such, there is no sense in telling your medical providers to bill that driver’s auto insurance. That is a sure way to have your medical bills go to collections. It’s very unfair. You were not at fault for the accident. Still, you are the one responsible to confirm who pays your medical bills after an auto accident. As such, we recommend using one of the following means to get those bills paid.

MedPay Insurance

What is medpay? Medpay or medical payments coverage, is a clause within many auto insurance policies. It is optional coverage in Illinois so not everyone has it. You will usually contract with your auto insurance company for them to pay the first $2,500, $5,000 or $10,000 of your medical bills, regardless of fault.

I’ve read a lot online that people don’t recommend purchasing medpay. I disagree completely. For the few dollars a month medpay costs, it is a valuable thing to have if you get in an accident. Many people cannot afford to pay their deductible or co-pays which are so high these days. Medpay can cover that for you. If you don’t have health insurance at all, medpay is an option for getting your medical bills paid, again, regardless of fault. Finally, unlike health insurance which might pay 80% of a medical bill leaving you with the balance, medpay will pay 100% of the bill.

Health Insurance

I always tell my clients when they get any kind of medical treatment, tell your medical provider to bill your health insurance (but for bills paid by medpay).  There are many advantages to using your health insurance to pay your medical bills, the main one being is that your health insurance company such as Aetna or Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, will likely have contracted rates with your medical provider. As such, Aetna will only have to pay their contracted rate for a bill rather than the whole rate.

So, for example, if you get a bill for $10,000 for an emergency room visit. Aetna will pay $5,000 of that bill and the rest will be written off by the medical provider.

You’re not completely off the hook, however. You may still have copays or a deductible that needs to be paid. Also, your health insurance company expects to be reimbursed for the money they paid on your behalf out of the proceeds of your settlement/recovery.

Still, using your health insurance to pay your medical bills after an accident is the best way to keep your medical costs down and get your bills paid.

Liens

Liens provide an interesting wrinkle to the issue of who pays the medical bills after an auto accident. A lien in this context basically means that when you recover from the injuries suffered in your accident, you are obligated by law to pay back your lien holders. These could include the ambulance company, emergency room, your physician etc.

Hospitals often file liens shortly after treating a patient so that they are assured of getting reimbursed for their services. Once they get paid by the health insurance company they will release their lien. Other providers may voluntarily enter into a lien agreement with you such as a chiropractor or physical therapist. In exchange for you and your attorney signing the lien, they agree to provide you treatment and hold off on billing you for the services until your case is resolved.

If you want more information on Illinois medical liens, check out the Illinois healthcare lien act.

Cash

Another option for paying your medical bills is to pay them up front with cash. This is seldom used of course, but it is an option to ensure your bills get paid.

Third party and uninsured motorist insurance

As stated above, the insurance company for the driver who hit you will not pay your medical bills until you settle or otherwise resolve your case. However, when you settle, one of the aspects of the settlement will be reimbursement for your medical bills.

So, for example, let’s say you are involved in a minor fender bender but you do go to the hospital. You have no other treatment and your emergency room bill is $3,000.

You enter into a settlement with the auto insurance company of $10,000. That settlement includes reimbursement for your $3,000 in medical bills. Meaning, that after you pay your medical providers and/or health insurance company back, you will be left with $7,000 (assuming you do not have to pay attorneys’ fees).

The same thing applies to uninsured motorist coverage. If you are hit by an uninsured driver, you will file a claim against your own auto insurance policy. The same analysis will then apply. If you recover $10,000 from your insurance company, you will have to pay back the $3,000 in medical bills from your recovery.

If you are involved in a car accident in Illinois and you want to know who pays the medical bills after an auto accident, contact Barry Zlotowicz at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

Illinois Injury Lawyer

My name is Barry Zlotowicz and I am a Personal Injury Attorney In Chicago. I often get asked by clients “can I sue the insurance company?” In this article, I Illinois Injury Lawyerwill address this common question and also briefly discuss when you can in fact sue an insurance company. If you are involved in a dispute with an insurance company, call me today at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

Who do you sue?

Auto insurance companies can be very difficult to deal with. The insurance company has one goal – to make money. They do this by taking in as much in premium payments as they can while at the same time paying as little as they can for insurance claims.

As such, it should be no surprise that the insurance company will nickel and dime you to every extent possible to save money. They know that the likelihood of someone filing a lawsuit against them is small – the vast majority of cases settle. Few people will file a lawsuit over a couple hundred dollars in property damage.

This often leads to serious frustration when dealing with an insurance company after an auto accident or other personal injury accident in Chicago. I have received many calls from people who ask: “can I sue the insurance company?”

The answer is….

As an Illinois injury lawyer, I’m very familiar with insurance company tactics. But generally speaking, no matter what the insurance company does, you do not sue the insurance company directly for injuries and damages suffered in an auto accident. Rather, you sue the person who hit you.

Example

Let’s say you are involved in an auto accident with a “John Smith.” Mr. Smith rear-ended you while driving on the Kennedy Expressway. Mr. Smith is insured by Geico Insurance. After the accident, you obtain Mr. Smith’s auto insurance information. You file a claim with Geico and after you finish treating you demand $25,000 to settle your case. Geico offers you only $10,000. You are not happy with the offer. What do you do?

In short, your Illinois personal injury lawyer will file a lawsuit against John Smith, not Geico Insurance. Geico has a duty to defend Mr. Smith. Therefore, once Mr. Smith is served with your lawsuit, he will call Geico and Geico will pay for a law firm to represent Mr. Smith.

When do you sue the insurance company?

The only time you will hear your Illinois injury lawyer talk about suing the insurance company is when he or she alleges that the insurance company is acting in “bad faith.” It’s a term that’s thrown around a lot by people but as applied to auto insurance claims, it is not used that often.

In short, a bad faith claim in this context usually arises when an auto accident victim files a claim against the defendant driver and there is a reasonable probability that the recovery will be in excess of the insurance policy. Despite this, the insurance company refuses to “tender” or offer the entire insurance policy to settle the case.

If your Illinois injury lawyer files a lawsuit on your behalf and you win an amount in excess of the policy amount, you may be able to file suit against the defendant’s insurance company and recover the entire amount of the verdict plus attorney’s fees and more.

If you want to read more about this topic and the standard for a bad faith claim, check out the Illinois Insurance code 215 ILCS 5/155.

Practical use of bad faith

Most of the time I have used this allegation is when an insurance company engages in significant delays in responding to a demand letter or other request for compensation. In that case, I will send a letter to the insurance company subtly suggesting they are acting inappropriately. An insurance company is usually fairly quick to respond to such a letter. However, this is normally a last resort.

Conclusion

Have a question for a Chicago area personal injury lawyer including can I sue the insurance company? Feel free to contact us today for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

How to damage your personal injury case?

How to damage your personal injury case

Personal Injury Case
How to damage your personal injury case

We’ve unfortunately seen a few accident victims who could teach a course on “how to damage your personal injury case.” To avoid damaging your case, contact our office for a free consultation today at 312-848-9783. Or read below for a few of the common ways that accident victims damage their case.

Dishonesty

The first lesson in how to damage your personal injury case is by lying to the insurance adjuster. The truth is going to come out. The facts will be verified by the parties, an independent witness, an expert witness, or the physical evidence/property damage. As such, it’s better to be honest up front with your attorney or the insurance adjuster. It avoids being called to the carpet later.

Also, in Illinois and many other states, you can recover for your damages even if you are partially responsible for the accident under the theory of comparative negligence. It’s much better to accept 20 (or whatever) percent responsibility for the accident up front than have the insurance deny your claim entirely because you were dishonest.

Medical Treatment

Another way how to damage your personal injury case involves your medical treatment. First, often accident victims don’t immediately seek medical treatment – this is a mistake. If you didn’t get medical treatment right after the accident, it is very difficult to tie subsequent ailments to your accident.

Many people will get medical treatment after an accident but then won’t get any additional treatment (like physical therapy) for weeks or months thereafter. That results in a “gap in treatment.” Gaps in treatment are something that insurance companies utilize to diminish claims. Their argument is that something else could have caused your injuries during the gap (slip and fall/another accident/work injury). As such, it’s important to engage in a continual course of treatment after an accident.

Some people don’t follow their doctor’s instructions regarding medical treatment. The doctor instructs them to undergo physical therapy or use crutches, but they refuse. As a result, they are “non-compliant” with a doctor’s instructions. This is something that an astute insurance adjuster will point out to diminish your claim. You have a duty to take steps to minimize your injuries and failure to do so will be used against you.

Don’t “tough it out.” When you’re at your doctor’s office, tell the doctor/RN/NP about all your injuries. Do not diminish the pain you are going through. As we discussed in another blog article on documenting your injuries, if your injury is not documented in the medical records, it doesn’t exist to the insurance company. Don’t tough it out, tell them about everything you’re going through.

Social Media

Posting on Facebook or any other social media about your accident can hurt your case. I’ve discussed a situation before where I observed a client engaging in vigorous activity at a time when he was recovering from an injury. If we saw it online, so did the insurance adjuster. As such, be cautious about what you post on social media.

As an aside, whenever we sign up a new client, we check the defendants’ social media as well for information we can use against them. So social media can be a double-edged sword.

Recorded Statements/Sign Documents

Another “how to damage your personal injury case” is to give a recorded statement to the insurance adjuster and/or to sign any of the insurance company’s documents without consulting with an attorney first.

The insurance adjuster is not on your side. They want to delay, deny and diminish your claim. As such, they will use the recorded statement against you later to call into your question your credibility. Few people can tell a story the exact same way two or three times.

Also, insurance adjusters will often get you to sign a release as soon as they can. If any additional medical issues arise after you sign, you are out of luck. Also, they will get you to sign a medical release which gives them the authorization to obtain all your medical records. You should control what they see, not them.

For more information about to avoid damaging your personal injury case, contact our office for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.

Why personal injury cases take so long

People are often surprised when we tell them that their personal injury case may take twelve to twenty-four months to resolve. They always

Personal Injury Cases
Why personal injury cases take so long

ask why personal injury cases take so long. For the answer to this and other personal injury related questions, see part one of the blog article, or contact our office for a free consultation at 312-848-9783.

Why personal injury cases take so long – Part Two

In part one of this blog article, we explained that obtaining insurance from the defendant who caused your accident, confirming that the defendant’s insurance company has accepted liability or responsibility for the accident, and the severity of your injury, can all affect how long it takes to resolve your case.

In part two of this blog, we will address additional factors that explain why personal injury cases take so long.

Factors that affect how long it takes to resolve your case

Obtaining medical bills and records

The medical bill and record aspect of your cases is a primary reason why personal injury cases take so long.

Once you are through treating, your law office will have to order all your medical bills and records from your medical providers – and there can be a lot of them. This is a slow process that requires dealing with medical bureaucracy. We are constantly required to order and re-order bills and records. And there are often significant fees for ordering the bills and records that have to be processed and paid.

Often our clients send us copies of the bills they receive and wonder why those won’t work. When we order bills from medical providers, they come with ICD Codes which are the codes insurance companies require before they compensate an accident victim for his or her damages. Our clients do not receive bills with ICD codes, we have to order them ourselves.

Medical bill and record review

Once we finally obtain the bills and records, they are reviewed in detail. This is a time intensive process and must be performed by an attorney or paralegal. Often there are hundreds and hundreds of pages of bills and records that have to be reviewed.

In addition, often when records are first reviewed, we learn that there was additional medical treatment that we did not know about, that there are records we have not ordered or received as yet, or that there were dates of service that were not provided to us. As such, we have to order those bills and records and that starts the process over again.

Once all the documents have been reviewed, your attorney will get on the phone with you to review your case before taking the next step in the process described below.

Demand Letter

Writing the demand letter to the insurance company is also a time intensive process. The demand letter will document:

  • The facts of the accident
  • Your theory of liability
  • Analysis of the medical bills and records
  • Description of your pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment, among other things
  • A demand for compensation

Once the letter is written, it must be reviewed and sent to the client for corrections, suggestions and approval. Then we will mail the demand to the insurance company. We will give them 30 days to respond to the letter – though it often takes much longer.

Negotiation

The negotiation process can take several weeks or months. Our demand letters often include very high demands and the insurance companies often begin with a very low offer. Then the process of negotiation begins. Your attorney will argue to the insurance adjuster about the value of your case and where the insurance company has exposure.

The insurance company will attempt to reduce your claim by disputing the severity of your injury and the amount of your medical treatment. They may point out you have pre-existing conditions and allege that the injuries you suffered were not actually suffered in the accident at all.

In many cases, the two sides are able to come to a mutually agreeable resolution of claims. However, that does not happen in all cases, discussed below.

As an aside, it may be that your injuries are so severe that they are more than worth the value of the insurance policy. In that situation, the insurance adjuster may just “tender” or offer the entire amount of their insured’s insurance policy.

Underinsured Motorist Protection

If the defendant offers you the full value of their insurance policy, you may be able to seek to recover additional compensation from your own underinsured motorist policy. We have handled several cases where we were able to quickly obtain the $25,000 or $50,000 policy limits from the defendant and then went after our client’s own insurance policy to compensate our clients for the rest of their damages.

Medical Bill/Lien Negotiation

Once your case settles, your attorney will attempt to resolve all outstanding medical bills you have as a result of injuries suffered in the accident. There are often deductibles, co-pays and in some cases entire medical bills outstanding.

Health insurance companies like Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois also intend to be reimbursed for the medical bills they paid on your behalf. Your attorney will attempt to negotiate a reduced amount with your insurance company as well. Do you have to pay your health insurance company back? Yes, often you do.

If you used your auto insurance medical payments (or “medpay”) benefits to pay your medical bills, you will have to pay your auto insurance company back as well. Your attorney will attempt to negotiate this amount down for you as well.

Be aware that some health insurance companies just simply take forever to settle with, mainly Medicare and Medicaid. They are huge governmental bureaucracies and just move much slower than a private health insurer.

Lawsuit/Litigation

The last reason why personal injury cases take so long, is that if you are unable to reach a settlement with the insurance company, your attorney may be forced to file a lawsuit against the defendant on your behalf. If you are in Cook County, you might not get to trial for eighteen months to two years. That’s on top of all the time you already spent on your case.

Despite this, it’s still optimal to try and resolve your claim amicably first as litigation costs a lot of money. Every dollar you spend on costs and expenses for your case comes out of your settlement/your pocket. Pre-litigation expenses cost a few hundred dollars while litigation can cost in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Conclusion

All the above are many of the reasons why personal injury cases take so long. These are just the tip of the iceberg. There are countless other tasks that your law firm must to do prep your case and they all take time. If you want a free consultation to discuss why personal injury cases take so long, contact our office at 312-848-9783.

Uber & Lyft Accident Lawyer in Chicago

If you were involved in an accident involving Uber or Lyft, you should call a Chicago rideshare accident attorney.

chicago uber accident lawyer
Uber and Rideshare Accident Lawyer

Dealing with Uber or Lyft can be challenging – even for a lawyer let alone an accident victim representing him or herself.

In general, rideshare is a great idea. It has provided a reasonably priced means for people to get around Chicago and other cities. Statistics also tend to support the idea that rideshare reduces the number of DUI accidents as inebriated drivers have an efficient alternative to driving home from a bar or restaurant. Some studies have shown that Uber has caused a dramatic reduction in the number of DUI related deaths.

However, Uber comes with risks as well. Often, Uber and Lyft drivers do not have a lot of driving experience. I speak from personal experience when I say that I’ve had more than one Uber driver who didn’t have a clue what he was doing or where he was going. I’ve seen others talking on their phones while driving or playing with the Uber app when they should be watching the road. Many cities like Chicago have enacted rideshare ordinances to assert some minimum requirements on the rideshare industry. Chicago exerts significant control over the taxi industry as well.

Our office has represented victims in several different Uber & rideshare accidents, including:

  • Our client was driving for Uber when she was hit behind in Park Ridge, Illinois thereby causing her to slam into the car in front of her. She suffered a concussion and whiplash injuries. She also developed fibromyalgia immediately after the collision and also suffered from significant PTSD that required psychological counseling.
  • Another client was a passenger in the back of an Uber. The Uber driver ran a red light and smashed into a car in an intersection. The collision left our client with significant back injuries. Our client’s statement about fault resulted in Uber’s insurance company accepting 100% responsibility for the accident.

We’ve received countless other calls from victims of rideshare accidents, many with minor injuries who proceeded to represent themselves in filing a claim with James River Insurance – the insurance company Uber uses (for the collisions I’ve handled at least).

It is unknown how many Uber & rideshare accidents there are in Illinois. This is mainly because, in Chicago at least, police reports do not have a place to notate whether the accident involved a rideshare service or not.

Who do you pursue if you are involved in an Uber & rideshare accident?

Uber and Lyft both provide coverage for accidents involving its drivers. When a rideshare driver turns on the app coverage begins. Uber/Lyft provide $50,000 in liability insurance if an Uber driver causes an accident while the app is on, but before he/she accepts a ride request. Once a ride request is accepted the insurance increases to $1,000,000 per incident AND the rideshare driver is protected if he/she is hit by an uninsured or underinsured driver. The insurance coverage returns to $50,000 once the passenger exits the vehicle.

The state of Illinois mandates that rideshare drivers carry insurance. Often, your typical personal insurance policy will not provide coverage as it was not anticipated in your insurance contract that you would utilize your vehicle for commercial activities. As such, many Uber and Lyft drivers purchase additional or commercial insurance. The cost of adding these policies to an existing personal insurance policy is often minimal and can be as low as an additional $15.00 per month.

One insurance is established, your case will face the same challenges that all auto accident cases face:

  • Establishing liability
  • Obtaining sufficient value for the property damage
  • Getting the appropriate medical treatment
  • Avoiding gaps in medical treatment
  • Negotiating with a stingy insurance company
  • Negotiating medical bills and liens upon settlement

You can also recover for your lost wages if you are injured in an Uber & rideshare accident. For passengers, the same process is used including verifying your wages through the use of a lost wages verification form. For rideshare drivers, establishing lost wages is often simple. The Uber app documents how much a driver makes on a weekly basis. To establish the lost wages claim, we can download the data and present it to an insurance company to document how much money you made on a weekly basis in the months prior to the accident.

If you would like to speak with an Uber & Rideshare Accident Lawyer, feel free to contact my office at 312-848-9783 My consultations are always free and I am more than happy to discuss your options with you.