Right now, thousands of Americans are waiting as their personal injury cases move through the legal system. Although an experienced personal injury attorney can help speed things along and prevent unnecessary delays, there’s often a bit of a wait.
It takes time to put a case together and work with the court’s schedule regarding a personal injury like a slip-and-fall accident, dog bite or car crash. Medical malpractice cases in particular can take some time because so many organizations and medical opinions are involved.
If your bills are piling up in the meantime, there are a few things you can do. We’d like to share some helpful tips for handling medical costs until your case is resolved.
Start With Your Health Insurance Company
First, ensure that your bills are going through your insurance company before reaching you. Health insurance often covers at least a portion of the main costs of a personal injury, like emergency room charges, surgical costs, prescription costs and doctor’s visits.
Also, if you receive something in the mail that looks like a medical bill, take a closer look at it to see who sent it and what you owe. If it’s from your health insurance provider and states coverage details, it may be an “explanation of benefits” rather than an actual bill.
If you have an overdue unpaid bill from a medical provider, it may be worth contacting their office and requesting a 30-day payment extension. Sometimes, if you explain that you have a legal case pending, a doctor’s office is willing to wait on payment rather than taking on the expense of sending it to a collection agency.
Auto Accident? Your Auto Insurance May Have Medical Coverage
Maryland requires drivers to have auto insurance, and your policy should include information about personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Maryland law states that everyone has to have PIP coverage included in their policy unless a PIP waiver form is signed. Often the insurance company will try to get people to sign these waivers. If you’ve been paying for PIP coverage, now’s the time to use it.
PIP usually covers at least some of the costs of a car accident. It typically is worth $2,500 and can be up to $10,000and may take care of your medical bills or even reimburse you for lost income up to a certain threshold. That’s a huge relief if you’ve been unable to work.
Another form of medical coverage that can help take care of bills is knowns as Medical Payments, which is otherwise knowns as MedPay. Most car insurance policies in Maryland do not include MedPay. If you have elected for MedPay coverage usually it could be as little as $1,000 and up to $100,000. The difference between MedPay and PIP is that PIP can help pay for some lost wages and MedPay can only pay for medical bills.
There are obviously different kinds of coverages that can help you pay your medical bills as you wait for your case to be over. Some lawyers will try to charge their clients in helping to get these services provided. At Zirkin and Schemrling Law there is never any charge or fee to get your PIP and/or MedPay to pay out. Zirkin and Schmerling see this as a responsibility they have to all of their clients.
Ask Your Lawyer About Using the Collateral Source Rule
Most people don’t learn about Maryland’s collateral source rule until they need to use it. The rule states that your already-paid medical costs can’t be used against you in court to reduce the value of your award.
This means the at-fault party can’t taint the view of the judge or jury by saying, “But they already got their bills paid by health insurance!” It protects you, maintaining a fair level of economic compensation regardless of whether you’ve managed to get some of your bills paid.
Maryland has no cap on economic damages, but it does have a maximum dollar amount you can receive for non-economic damages, including pain and suffering. The cap for pain and suffering is $860,000 for a car accident, for example. This cap has a small increase each year per the Maryland statute.
In total, you could be awarded millions of dollars depending on the situation. Of course, you’ll need an experienced personal injury attorney to help you use the collateral source rule and any other legal rules that could benefit your case.
Make sure your lawyer has a great track record with personal injury cases and knows how to get the best possible result. At Zirkin & Schmerling Law, we’re here to help you get fair compensation for your injuries.
Have a Legal Question About a Car Accident? We Have Answers
When you need to learn more about your rights, the attorneys at Zirkin & Schmerling Law can help. Contact us, or call us at (410) 753-4611 to set up an appointment with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers today.