If you’re in the midst of a personal injury lawsuit, you need compensation for your medical bills and time lost from work now — but what if the compensation may not come for a while? What do you do when you need to pay medical bills and living expenses while you’re at trial for a personal injury case?
Unfortunately, some people give up on their lawsuits because they’re too busy dealing with their current health and financial problems to keep fighting for compensation. It could be months before you recover any funds, so you need to find ways to cover your expenses in the meantime. Use the following suggestions to stay in the fight:
Submit your Bills to your Group Health Insurance Company
Your health insurance is an important contractual right that you have to help pay for your medical expenses. If your health insurance company is reluctant to pay your medical bills because your injuries are a result of someone else’s negligence, you should demand they do so. Your health insurance company has a contractual obligation to pay your bills. They may request that you fill out a form providing the contact information for the insurance company of the at-fault driver. You should fill out this information because your health insurance may not initiate payment of your bills until you have completed this form. Most insurance companies have a right of subrogation against the proceeds of your settlement. If your health insurance company has paid your medical bills, in whole or in part, it has a right to be reimbursed from the final settlement proceeds for all payments it has made. Your lawyer can help negotiate to reduce this subrogation lien.
Use your Medical Payments Coverage under your own Automobile Insurance Policy
If you have full coverage with your auto insurance carrier, your policy will likely include coverage for payment of medical expenses for any occupant in your vehicle. This is another source that can be used to pay your medical expenses. Most medical payments policies pay a maximum of $1,000.00 – $25,000.00. You can learn the amount of your medical payments coverage from looking at your Declarations Sheet. You have the right to ask your insurance agent for a copy of your Declarations Sheet. If you do have medical payments coverage, you should use this source to help pay your remaining medical expenses after you have submitted them to your group health insurance. Ensuring your medical expenses are promptly paid is important to keep your bills out of collection and protect your credit.
Talk to Your Medical Providers
No matter what, don’t put off needed medical care because you aren’t sure if you can afford it — your health matters, and you can find a way. If you need medical care, you can usually work out some form of payment plan with your medical providers. Let them know that you do intend on paying them, but you’re currently unable to pay in full. They can either create their own payment plan or give you a plan through a credit agency.
This will open a credit line with a company like CareCredit. These are credit lines that are only used for medical bills. You’ll have to pay them off eventually (often at high interest rates), but you’ll be able to get the care that you need now, and you can hopefully use any compensation you win later to pay off the bills.
The worst thing you can do is ignore your bills. Financial departments generally start collections against patients that don’t respond to them, which means that you won’t have any room to bargain.
Get Pre-Settlement Funding
Pre-settlement funding is an easy way to manage your expenses while you’re still at trial. Through pre-settlement funding, those who are expecting a settlement can get a portion of that settlement in cash right away. The lender will be paid back when the settlement money comes in.
Pre-settlement funding is often easier to get than a bank loan or a credit line, as it’s guaranteed by the outcome of your settlement. In general, pre-settlement funding is a good option for those who are confident in their case and simply need funds now for daily expenses. If you’re not sure if this is a good option for you, speak with your personal injury lawyer.
Apply for Bank Loans and Equity Loans
If you need to pay off your medical bills now, you have other options open to get money immediately:
- Home equity loans. If you have a home, you may be able to take a loan out based on its value. Home equity loans usually have fairly low interest rates, but you will need to start repaying the loan back immediately.
- Credit lines. Credit lines and personal loans are an option if you have excellent credit. But the interest rates can be highly variable, and they will often cost you quite a bit in interest and fees by the time they’re paid back.
- Cash title loans. If you have an automobile, you may be able to take out a loan against it for its value. But you want to be careful, because these loans tend to have higher interest.
All of these options are available, but they do generally require that you have equity in something or that you have good credit. If you don’t want to risk your property, you need to find a better solution. Often, this is a pre-settlement fund.
Haggle or Negotiate
Whether you decide to pay your medical bills through a loan or through pre-settlement funding, you need to consider one more thing: haggling. Most medical bills are not set in stone. In fact, many medical costs are set by the amount that insurance will pay and aren’t always what they expect a patient to pay.
Generally, a medical provider would much rather that you pay them a lower price that you negotiated than risk you not paying them anything because the bill is too high. Consequently, many providers will be flexible with patients about price.
You can contact the financing department of your medical service and ask them whether they can negotiate with you. You may be able to get a percentage off of your costs, especially if you can show verification that your income is low.
A personal injury trial is already stressful. You shouldn’t have to worry about your expenses at the same time. In order to win compensation for your injuries in a timely manner, work with a qualified and experienced attorney. That way, you have the best chance of getting a settlement quickly so you can pay your medical bills. Contact Shay & Associates Law Firm today to set up a consultation about your case.