Car and truck accident injuries can often be very severe and expensive, as medical expenses increase every year. You may find your bills piling up and if you can’t work, your income may cease completely. What can you do?
Stillman and Friedland Law Firm has answers to help you through such difficult times.
Can I Keep My Whole Settlement?
Normally, anytime anyone recovers expenses from another party or insurance company for injuries, and medical bills are paid by health insurance, the health insurance company is entitled to reimbursement. This prevents windfall dual recovery for the same damages, i.e. bills.
What Happens When the Insurance Doesn’t Cover All the Costs?
When limits come nowhere near “making you whole” i.e., compensating you as the law allows, your lawyer may file suit to have the court determine what constitutes a fair settlement. Making you whole would be full compensation as determined by a jury, for medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and permanent injury, disability, etc.
For example, you could have close to $100,000 in gross total medical bills for treatment, of which health insurance may pay around $36,000 to $40,000, based on what they consider to be reasonable charges. The rest is written off by the providers. Normally we negotiate reductions to repay health insurance for approximately one-third less than what they paid. This amounts to a substantial savings for you, the client.
This is not even considering pain and suffering, lost wages, and any permanent effects or future treatment you may need.
Is it fair for Health Care Costs to Eat Up all Your Settlement When You Have Other Losses?
If you are not made whole, meaning there is not enough car insurance coverage to fully compensate for all losses, including the other driver’s insurance and your own uninsured motor coverage, then we have an equitable argument to ask for further reductions from the health insurance that paid the bills. The question is what is a reasonable reduction that allows fair compensation to you, the injured person?
Another factor to help our argument for reduction is a statute in Tennessee regarding hospital liens. TCA section 29-22-101.
That statute states that any hospital treating someone injured due to the negligence of another, has a lien for payment of the bill for treatment, against any settlement the injured person receives.
The statute provides that if policy limits are not sufficient to make the injured person whole, the hospital can only recover one-third of the total settlement in full payment of the lien, and no more than that. This is very powerful argument for health insurance liens as well
How Can I Prevent Having Costs Far Exceed the Amount of Insurance and Prevent a Restriction in the Amount of Recovery for Non-Medical Expenses?
As in most cases, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It’s best to pay a small amount for additional policy limits, including uninsured motorist coverage, and avoid having the problem ever come up. You will be able to recover up to the limits of your coverage, and not be limited by the other driver’s limits.
In conclusion, the ideal situation is for all Tennessee motorists to have at least $300,000 plus uninsured motorist coverage on their own car policy. It is not expensive, and it is very valuable if ever needed.
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Stillman & Friedland