When it comes to personal injury cases, you generally have to prove two things. First, you must show that someone was negligent. That doesn't simply mean that an accident happened. Accidents happen all the time, and sometimes, it's no one's fault in particular. Basically, you have to show that someone did something wrong - like blowing through a red light or turning left in front of oncoming traffic. Once you have established fault, then you have to prove that you were injured as a result of that person's negligence. Therefore, just because someone was negligent doesn't mean you have a claim. You must also be injured. Generally speaking, your injury must be appreciable or the insurance company adjuster isn't going to offer you very much.
There is basically a continuum of injuries that can be broken down into several categories:
1) Basic soft tissue injuries (sprain/strain) that heal over time.
2) Soft tissue injuries that don't completely heal, leaving some measure of residual injury.
3) Very painful injuries that don't require surgery but aren't helped much by physical therapy and/or medication. In some cases, pain management injections are necessary.
4) Bad injuries that don't resolve over time and surgery is recommended - but the injured party chooses to live with the pain and manage it versus having the surgery.
5) Bad injuries where the injured party actually had surgery and healed properly.
6) Bad injuries where the injured party had surgery but will still have residual issues.
So if you are injured, how can you prove it?
1) Take photos of visible injuries. Telling the insurance company about your bruising, cuts, scrapes is good, but showing them the injuries is even better. Also, take photos over time, showing the progress (or lack of progress) of the injury healing.
2) Soft tissue cases (sprain/strain) are very hard to prove because there is nothing to show. You can't point to an image on an xray or other imaging tool. You can't say, "See, there's my injury!" Therefore, your behavior becomes very important. If you are claiming a shoulder injury, don't post videos of yourself doing push-ups on the internet! How the accident affects your daily life activities is the best way to "demonstrate" your injuries to others. The severity of the impact will help others understand your injuries. If there isn't much damage to your car, the insurance company (and most juries) won't give you much for such claims. On the flip side, if your car has moderate to severe damage, others will more easily believe your claim of injury.
3) If you have a tear, disc bulge, or other serious injury from the accident, you will definitely need an MRI or CT scan to prove the injury. Negative findings will be used against you. Positive findings will be viewed with suspicion by insurance adjusters, especially if (a) you are older than 40 years of age, (b) if you have a previous accident, or (c) previous health issues. Folks over 40 years of age often have orthopedic issues simply due to the aging process. Having disc bulges in your neck or back is something common, even for people who have not been in an accident. If you are relatively young, most people won't expect such serious issues. Therefore, if you are 21 years old and have a serious disc bulge in your neck, that would certainly be unusual.
4) Also, if you have significant image findings and/or significant injuries, your past medical records will definitely come into play. The insurance company will want to see your past records to see if there are any similar complaints in your past. I hate to say this but many people try to "pull a fast one" on the insurance companies by claiming injury to body parts when, in fact, they had the same issues before the accident. If you are interested in committing insurance fraud, please DON'T call my office! (Disclaimer: I am NOT encouraging insurance fraud!) By the same token, if your past medical history is devoid of similar complaints, that will play in your favor. Also, if your complaints surfaced immediately after the accident, that is helpful to show proof of injury. If the police report and/or ER records show complaints, that is helpful to your case. In contrast, complaints that surfaces weeks or months after an accident are very difficult to connect to the accident and are often viewed with suspicion.
Proving injuries in a personal injury case is a tricky affair. You have to use objective proof, documentation, photos, circumstantial evidence, corroborating evidence, etc. A helpful personal injury lawyer can guide you and help you understand how to prove your injuries.
Hello, everyone. This is Robert Mansour. I wanted to make a brief video today about general damages. You see, if you've been involved in a serious automobile accident, a serious car accident, and you are injured and you want to bring a claim, there are two components to your case. The first component is what's called special damages or the economic damages. Those are damages that can be easily measured such as medial bills, lost wages from your work, the damage to your car, things that are quantifiable generally, that there's some kind of estimate or a receipt or some kind of a bill.
Then, there's something called your general damages. Your general damages are generally your pain and suffering. It's a much more subjective analysis. You might think your pain and suffering is way up here, but the insurance company thinks your pain and suffering is way down here.
How do you convey general damages? Well, the best way to do it is to keep a journal of how the accident is affecting you. Anytime you have a particularly rough day, write it down. Write down what happened, what challenges you've had, who might be able to corroborate that. For example, let's say you had a really bad day at work. There was so much pain, and you have to keep getting up and taking breaks, walking around the office so that your back doesn't hurt you so much. Maybe you had a colleague take you home early several times because you were in so much pain.
Those are the kinds of things that you need to write down and journal. It doesn't have to be everyday. It could be every few days, or if you have a particularly rough day. Say for example you had to cancel a family vacation, or you had stay off of work for a long period of time. Let's say for example you couldn't go out with friends because you were in so much pain, or you canceled a big family birthday. A whole bunch of things you can write down and keep track of, because here's the thing: The insurance adjuster who is evaluating the case is not going to know about those things unless you tell him or her, unless you convey it to them. The other thing I like to do is near the end of the case when I'm about to present your case to the insurance company is I like to prepare declarations for you to sign, for your family to sign, for friends to sign, people who observed how the accident affected your life.
If you've been involved in a serious Santa Clarita car accident and need an attorney's advice, give our office a call to see if we can assist you.
Hello, everybody. This is Robert Mansour, and I wanted to make a brief video today to present you with a timeline of how a typical personal injury case works.
The first thing that happens of course is the accident. Without an accident, you don't have a personal injury case. The next thing is you have to be injured. You could get into an accident, but you walk out and you're just fine. Then you're not going to have a personal injury case. Let's assume that you're injured.
The next thing we have to figure out is, okay, the police might come investigate the accident, you might have to get a police report. You may not get that right away. You might have to order it a few days later, or sometimes a few weeks later. Your insurance company also might help you get that police report.
You also might need medical care right away. Don't forget, that's the most important thing. You might go to the hospital, you might take an ambulance, you might go to urgent care, and you might get some medical care.
Then at some point you might say, "You know what...I should run this by a lawyer to see what my options are." You might visit with that attorney. If the attorney is a conscientious, good lawyer, they're going to tell you all of your options. You might decide, "Well, I don't really want to bring a personal injury case; it's really not in my best interest," or, "I have a very remote chance of prevailing and I really don't want to do it." Perhaps you're just very busy and you don't even want to take the time. That's a very valid concern.
The lawyer might tell you, "Listen, I think you have a good case and you might want to proceed with it," in which case you should continue going through with all of your medical care as your doctors direct you. In some cases, you may go through your own health care channels. In other cases, you might work with doctors who do personal injury cases.
In any event, there's going to come a point during your treatment when you just basically plateau. There's nothing more that the doctor can do. Either you have reached pre-accident status, or you have plateaued and you're 20% off of what you used to be or 30%. Who knows what the case may be? If you have a really bad injury, maybe there's surgery recommended or maybe you actually have surgery, but at some point, there's not much more that can be done. That's when your attorney's going to start to collect all of your medical records from all of your providers, analyze them, present the case to the insurance company, see if we need to get any declarations from friends or family to discuss how the accident affected you. Because remember your case has two components: the economic damages and then the non-economic damages, which are sometimes known as pain and suffering.
Then the insurance company will make an offer to us, and we discuss it, and we decide whether that's a good offer, a bad offer, or whether we should file a lawsuit. If we're going to file a lawsuit, we should sit down and talk about the pros and cons of doing so. Because sometimes you might recover more during a lawsuit, but by the time you finish paying all the costs involved, you're basically right where you were before you ever filed the lawsuit.
That's kind of a macro view of how these accident cases work. My website has a lot more information. You're more than welcome to click around or use the search box at the very top of the screen to find more information. Again, my name is Robert Mansour. Thank you for watching this video. I hope you found it helpful.
Call (661) 414-7100 to see if we can assist you with your accident case.
Every so often, we get a call at our office from a person who was involved in a car accident months earlier, and then they get something in the mail from the other party. They are usually surprised because they thought the car accident was ancient history. Sometimes, it's a letter from an attorney who represents the other party and sometimes, it's a formal lawsuit. In most cases, the other party is alleging injury from the accident. Needless to say, this can cause great distress for most people, so here are some things to keep in mind if this happens to you.
First, you should know that a personal injury lawyer is not the person to call in a situation like this. You see, a personal injury lawyer represents people who have been injured in an accident and who are bringing a claim for those injuries. Now, if you are on the receiving end of the claim, then a personal injury lawyer is not going to be able to represent you. However, a personal injury attorney will often be happy to offer you some advice.
Next, you need to determine what exactly you received from the other party. Sometimes, people get a letter from the other party's lawyer and assume it must be a lawsuit. If you get a letter in the mail, you should realize that is not a lawsuit - it's only a letter. That being said, you should not ignore the letter. Contact your own insurance company or your insurance broker and let them know about the letter. Then send them a copy of the letter via fax, mail, email, or all three. If you send by email, make sure you get a confirmation from your insurance company that they received what you sent them. If you send by fax, print out the confirmation that indicates the fax was indeed sent and received.
Third, you may get served with an actual lawsuit. If this is the case, you will receive a packet of materials. It won't be a simple letter. You will probably see what appears to be lots of court forms stamped by the court. This is known as the "complaint" that was filed against you by the other party. All lawsuits start with the filing of a "complaint." This document makes general allegations, and most are form documents. There may be other papers in this packet you receive.
Once filed with the court, the complaint needs to be "served" upon the other party (you in this case). This "service" of the paperwork can be accomplished in several ways. Usually, an individual is served by a "process server" - a person who walks up to you and asks you if you are "Mr. Smith" and then hands you all the documents. Then this process server will file proof with the court that he/she served you. You then have a limited amount of time to file an "answer" to the complaint with the court. If you don't "answer" the complaint, the other party can petition the court to enter a judgment against you. Basically, if you don't answer, it's like forfeiting the "game."
Sometimes, you will get the paperwork in the mail. If so, you haven't technically been served properly but that doesn't mean you should ignore the materials you received. If you are served by mail, or personally served by a process server, you should contact your insurance company and/or your insurance broker and make them aware immediately. Send them a copy of everything you received. Your insurance company will then usually hire a lawyer to represent you and defend you against this lawsuit. You don't have to pay this lawyer. The insurance company is paying them. The premiums you pay your insurance company cover the cost of defense if you've been sued. Some of these defense attorneys work for outside defense firms, and some are in-house with your insurance company (that's what I used to do before I opened my own practice years ago). This attorney will file an answer on your behalf. The lawsuit can last months or years. Make sure you cooperate with your assigned defense lawyer and your insurance company. It is not only in your best interests to cooperate, but you are often contractually obligated to do so.
VIDEO TRANSCRIPT: Hello everyone, this is Robert Mansour. We get a question here a lot at the office about property damage when it comes to personal injury cases. Now my office generally represents people who have serious injuries from automobile accidents. Sometimes the issue of property damage does come up and clients need some guidance. Here is the deal. Either they're going to fix your vehicle or they're going to offer you the amount of the total loss value of the vehicle. If your vehicle is a total loss, they're going to offer you the fair value of your vehicle, of what it was worth the day of the accident before you got hit. They're not going to give you enough money to go buy a new car. If that was the case then everybody would go get into a car accident and hope to get a new car.
Basically, if you are not being offered something fair for your vehicle, let's say they're offering you $9000 of your vehicle but you think it's worth $11000. Well if you are dealing with your company or another person's company, you need to give them reasons to offer you more. You can't just call them and say, "Hey, I want more money." That's probably not going to carry the day. What you really want to do is you want to provide them with evidence. You want to go online and search for the same type of vehicle you had, same year, same millage or as close as you can to it and try to find valuations for your vehicle. You can also try Kelley Blue Book, you can also try edmunds.com. There are a variety of valuation resources now.
Truth be told, most insurance companies do not rely on anything like Kelley Blue Book. They use outside 3rd party companies that evaluate the vehicle based on comprehensive research of the vehicles in your area, comparable vehicles in your area and also some other valuation metrics that these other companies use. Now, if you don't agree with the valuation, you need to provide your evidence to the insurance company. Send it to them. Send them a cover letter explaining why you think you should be offered more on your vehicle. You need to be able to back up your assertion with actual evidence. Now will that always work? Not necessarily. If you were still not being offered enough for your vehicle, really the only option after that is to perhaps hire a valuation expert. There are people out there who are experts in evaluating automobiles.
Now, generally speaking, a good expert will charge you anywhere from $500 to $1000 to conduct a full evaluation and appraisal of your vehicle. If you're only squabbling over a few $100 with the insurance company, it doesn't make sense for you to spend that kind of money hoping to recover roughly the same amount. Basically you might want to get an expert involved if there is a huge disparity or at least an appreciable disparity between what you are being offered and what you believe your vehicle is worth. I hope you've found this video to be helpful. Thank you very much for watching. If I could be of any service to you for your personal injury case, please don't hesitate to contact my office. Thank you very much.
If you need help after a serious car accident, give us a call at (661) 414-7100. Robert serves Santa Clarita and its surrounding communities of Valencia, Stevenson Ranch, Castaic, Canyon Country, Newhall, Saugus, and beyond.
Most people think their injury case is worth more than it is. The problem is insurance companies won't agree with you most of the time. The prism they use to analyze your case is different from yours. You will view your case from a very subjective point of view. They use software, statistics, analytical charts, and tons of objective data. They know what juries in your zip code will award on most days. So while you may be correct in your analysis, they are betting on software and statistics in making you their offer. Remember, the insurance company's job is to KEEP its money. Insurance adjusters don't really like paying out on claims. There are many factors affecting the value of any personal injury case, and many exceptions to what I'm about to say, but we are going to simplify matters for purposes of this blog post.
Here are 5 main reasons your case may result in a lower settlement:
1) The extent of your injuries is not that bad. If all you have is aches and pains (sprain/strain), then your injury will be categorized as a "soft tissue" case. Generally speaking, insurance companies aren't impressed with soft tissue cases. Frankly, most jurors are also unimpressed. Remember, 90% of jurors have aches and pains every day. If you ask 12 members of the jury to miss work for two weeks to listen to your case in court, you better have something better to offer them than "aches and pains" because most of them have the same issues every day of their lives (without being involved in an accident).
Your injuries drive the value of your case. In short, the more significant your injury is, the higher the value of your case will be. Many clients come to my office and tell me about their aches and pains after an accident. I totally understand how frustrated they are. After all, who wants to have aches an pains when you didn't have them before an accident. However, then I tell them about my client who had a brain injury and uses a walker for the rest of his life, or my client who lost 50% of his vision, they begin to understand. Once they hear of these more "significant" injuries, they start to put things in perspective. Even if you have lingering aches and pains that don't resolve, if nothing shows up on an xray, MRI or CT scan, it's going to be an uphill battle. I'm not trying to belittle my client's injury, but I assume they want facts and candid advice when they come to see me. Simply put, fractures, surgeries, and permanent injuries tend to be worth more than simple soft tissue cases.
2) Damage to your vehicle is relatively minor or hard to see. After over 20 years of working on both sides of the fence (plaintiff and defense), I've come to accept the basic truth that minor damage (or damage that is hard to see) is a tough sell when it comes to convincing others you were injured. If you need to explain the damage to your vehicle, that is a warning sign your case may be valued less than someone who has photos of horrific vehicle damage. The truth is many people have minor damage but significant injuries, and vice versa. However, the unfortunate truth is that juries and insurance adjusters aren't impressed with minor damage. So while you may indeed be injured, you need to understand that minor damage is going to be a problem for your case.
3) Limited insurance. In some cases, your case may be worth a great deal, but if the person who caused you injury only has limited insurance (i.e., $15,000) and you don't have any additional insurance available to you under your auto policy (i.e., underinsured motorist coverage), then you may be out of luck. Remember, you don't get to keep the entire amount. You may have liens that need to be paid, other outstanding expenses, attorney fees, etc. While you theoretically can go after the responsible party in court, you will have to weigh and balance the potential expenses and time involved in doing so against the likelihood you're going to collect anything from that person. Does it make sense to spend $20,000 in an effort to recover an additional $20,000 on your case? And that assumes the responsible party has any funds to give you in the first place.
4) Low medical bills. Simply put, the lower your medical bills, the lower your settlement will be. Higher medical bills generally result in higher settlements. This is not true in every case. For example, if all you have is a neck sprain and you go get $50,000 in massages, no insurance adjuster or jury is going to award you that amount. Just because you have the bills, that doesn't mean they are reasonable. However, if you have a serious injury, and all you have is a $250 urgent care bill, that may be a problem for your case. That is not to encourage you to go get high medical bills, but just to impress upon you the need for active treatment after an accident. If you don't get any medical care, the insurance adjuster will simply assume you're probably not hurt. Also, remember the amount of your bills is not relevant...it's what the health care provider accepted as payment in full. So for example, if your bills are $100,000 but your health care providers accepted $20,000 as payment in full, then the latter number is what matters. You cannot present the higher amount. Therefore, if you have Medi-Cal, you can imagine your bills will be very low because Medi-Cal pays a fraction of your bills and providers cannot bill you for the balance.
5) What kind of medical treatment you received and how you went out doing so. If you have a significant injury but wait 4 months to do anything about it, the insurance company is going to give you a hard time. They will argue your injury was unrelated, or you wouldn't have waited 4 months. That's why I always tell clients you need to be proactive with your medical care. If your care is sporadic and inconsistent, don't be surprised if the insurance company offers you a paltry sum. The sooner you treat, the better.
Again, the previous points are simply general in nature. There are many exceptions. If you want candid advice about your personal injury case, please feel free to contact our office. Call (661) 414-7100.
Can you get a brain injury from an automobile accident? Absolutely. Hello everyone. This is Robert Mansour. I'm a personal injury lawyer in the Los Angeles area. Today I wanted to make a brief video about brain injuries and car accidents.
Now it is a rare injury to have a brain injury from a car accident, but it can happen. Generally speaking, you're going to see somebody striking their head against the window or the windshield. Sometimes it can also happen from the quick back and forth motion of the head. It rattles the brain inside the head and sometimes can cause damage that way as well.
Generally speaking, if you do strike your head, you're going to notice things like dizziness, sometimes really severe headaches, blurred vision. These kinds of neurological complaints can be a sign of a brain injury. You also may have lost consciousness for a period of time, if the brain was deprived of oxygen for a period of time. You may be forgetful. You may have short term memory loss. Those are all very important issues and you need to be very cognizant of them.
I had a case one time when my client's head hit the windshield. He had a bump on his head but it went away after a couple of days. About a week after the accident he started to notice debilitating headaches, very very painful headaches, to the point where he had to check into the hospital because he couldn't do his job, he couldn't even drive a vehicle, it was so painful. They found that he had a slow bleed inside his brain from the date of the accident. It had been happening very slowly overtime to the point where they actually had to do brain surgery on the client.
He ended up unfortunately compromised and he still has some effects of the injury until today. For a while he had to walk with a walker. He wasn't able to control his arms and legs as well as he would like to. He wasn't able to drive a vehicle. He actually lost his job as a result of the accident because he could no longer do the job that was required of him.
Be very very careful if you have these kinds of symptoms as it may be indicative of a brain injury. You may need to seek a neurological consultation as soon as possible to rule out anything serious. Also your orthopedic doctor who is treating you may want to send you for a neurological evaluation before commencing physical therapy or any active treatment for your accident.
This is Robert Mansour. Thank you very much for watching this brief video about brain injuries and car accidents. If I can be of assistance, please feel free to contact my office. Thank you very much.
If you've had a brain injury from a car accident, call our office at (661) 414-7100 to see if we can help.
After an auto accident, there are many reasons an insurance adjuster may not call you back. Here is a brief list of some common reasons insurance adjusters don't call people back:
1) They are a lousy insurance adjuster who doesn't want to do his/her job. Here at my office, there are a handful of insurance companies that are notorious for not returning calls, putting people on hold indefinitely, or they route every call to voice mail! You are not alone!
2) There are overworked. Most insurance adjusters are hard working folks who simply have too many files on their desk. At any given time, they might have about 200 files on their desk. Usually, this work load mandates they pay more attention to fires on their desk. Your file may simply not be a priority because they have too much work.
3) They did not get your message. Email and voice mail aren't fool proof. Email is usually a good way to communicate because you have a paper trail. Do both when you can.
4) There is no reason for them to call you. For example, if you don't have collision coverage on your car, your insurance company isn't going to fix your car (or rent you a car). Therefore, even though you contacted your insurance company to report an accident, there's really no reason for them to call you after that. If your policy doesn't provide any coverage for your injuries or to fix your car, then they're pretty much done. Don't expect them to call you if there is no real reason for them to do so.
5) You haven't asked them to actually do anything. Calling and reporting an accident doesn't necessarily mean anything. Sometimes clients tell me, "Yeah, I called the insurance company and told them about the accident. They haven't called me back yet." Then I ask, "Did you ask them to actually do anything?" The client replies, "No. I just thought they'd call me..." Well, here is the truth - in most cases, they will call you to inquire if you are making a claim etc. However, in some cases, unless you actually ask them to fix your car, or to help you with an injury claim etc., then some adjusters simply won't call you. In short, you haven't affirmatively asked them to do anything, and it certainly isn't in their best interests to move YOUR personal injury/property damage claim forward. That's your problem - not theirs. So if they don't call you back, ask yourself if you actually asked them to do anything.
Dealing with insurance is often a very frustrating ordeal. There's nothing fun about it. Clarity is key. If you want an insurance adjuster to do something, ask them to do it. If you have a question, ask your question - don't try to read the insurance adjuster's mind. Sometimes you may think the next step in your claim is painfully obvious, but it may not be quite obvious to the insurance adjuster. Truthfully, there are many excellent adjusters out there who can make things easier. If you end up with an excellent adjuster, be thankful!
Also, you need to ask questions and get clarity whenever there is any hint of ambiguity. For example, if they say, "Sure you can rent a car! Just send us the bill when you're done." You then need to ask the follow up questions: "How many days of rental will you pay for? How much per day? What kind of car can I rent?" Don't assume anything. Be clear and ask questions. Send an email follow up for confirmation. If they don't allow email, then fax them confirmation. Don't leave things to interpretation.
So if an insurance adjuster isn't calling you back, there are many reasons for that. Either they are incompetent, overworked, don't owe you a duty to act, or you simply haven't asked them to do anything. If you still can't get their cooperation, it would be a good idea to get their supervisor on the phone. Whatever you do, be civil and maintain your cool at all times. Civility and professionalism usually go a long way.
Hello everyone this is Robert Mansour. I wanted to make a brief video today about being proactive regarding your medical care after a personal injury accident. Lets say you get involved in a serious automobile accident and you are hurt. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that you need to move, with respect to your care, your health care. Don't let two, three, four weeks go by before you do anything. Here's why, the insurance adjusters look very carefully at your behavior after an automobile accident. They look in they see how much time lapsed from the very day of the accident to day they went to first see a doctor and then they say, "How many days after that did they start their physical therapy and then after that what did they do? Are they skipping their appointments? Are they waiting too long?"
This is a very big problem that I see in personal injury cases. For example, I'll call the client and I'll say, "Oh, you were hurt in an accident?" They'll say, "Yes, I was" I say, "Have you seen a doctor?" They say, "No" I said, "You understand that the other party's going to say - that you are not really injured because you didn't go see a doctor.'"
Then they go see a doctor because they're hurt and the doctor prescribes physical therapy. I might call the client and I say, "Okay, did you go to the doctor?" They say, "Yes, I did" and I say, "Okay, what happened?" "Oh, the doctor says I should do physical therapy." I say, "Well, did you go for physical therapy?", "Oh, no I'm too busy."
That's a very difficult client to help because they're not being proactive about their care. They're being passive about their care and if they don't care enough about their case and their health to go seek the proper medical care, why should the insurance adjuster care any more?
It's frustrating sometimes, for me, to have clients who are not proactive because I can't pull a rabbit out of a hat. I am not a magician. If my client tells me that they are hurt and that they are injured from an auto accident, serious auto accident, they need to go to the doctor. They need to get proactive care, they need to get better, they need to go to physical therapy, they need to go get x-rays, MRI's, they need to follow doctors orders. They need to follow through on their appointments because if they don't the insurance company will use all that against them.
Then their case implodes on them and they get frustrated. Again, I reiterate, I tell them, "Listen if you don't care enough about your own case, the insurance adjuster is not going to care more than you. In fact they are going to care far less and they are going to devalue your case." Here is the problem, you might have serious injuries from a car accident. You might be really, really hurt, but if you are not proactive about your care it only serves to harm you at the end of the day. The insurance adjuster for the responsible party is more than happy to devalue your case, and to poo-poo it, and to belittle it. Don't give them extra reasons to do so. They're already wired to do that. If you are not proactive about your care, and you don't go seek the care, cetera then don't be surprised if the insurance adjuster and the insurance company for the responsible party, use that against you.
Therefore, it is very, very important to move forward with your care. To be proactive about it. To follow through on the doctors orders and to keep your attorney advised of what's going on. Thank you very much for watching this video. I hope I have impressed upon you the importance of proactive medical care after an automobile accident. Thank you very much for watching and if you have any questions regarding this or other personal injury matters, please feel free to contact my office. Thank you very much.
If you incur hospital bills after a car accident, you might be wondering, "Who is responsible for paying for my hospital bills?" The short answer is - You! Just because someone causes you harm doesn't mean they are going to pay for your hospital bills. The hospital, emergency room, doctors, xrays facilities, etc. expect to be paid. You can't simply ignore those bills. I've known some clients who get hospital bills and toss them in the trash thinking, "These aren't my responsibility. I don't need to worry about these bills." The truth is you DO have to worry about these bills. When I tell clients they are responsible for their hospital bills, many protest, "Why should I have to pay these? I'm not the one who caused the accident!"
So then I tell the clients a little story that oftens help explain the situation: Let's say someone vandalizes your home one day by painting graffiti all over it. You catch them in the act and call the police. The police show up and arrest the perpetrators. So far so good. Then you hire Johnny's Painting Company to come and remove the graffiti and repaint your home. Johnny and his crew do a great job. Then Johnny knocks on your door and asks you to pay him for the work. You can't tell him, "Listen, I'm not going to pay your bill. You need to go after the people who vandalized my home." Johnny isn't going to do that. It's not his problem. He provided a service and expects to be paid. Paying him is your responsibility. Then you can theoretically pursue reimbursement from the vandals. So basically, it's the same story with medical care - the health care providers will provide a service to you, but you need to pay them. You can't expect them to go after the responsible party for payment.
There are some medical providers who will provide you service on a "lien" basis. Those providers are not the subject of this posting. When a provider is on a "lien," that simply means you are promising to pay them for their service at the conclusion of your case. You are basically deferring payment to them. This FAQ deals with providers who are NOT on a lien (most hospitals, ER doctors, urgent care centers, PPO doctors, etc.).
Since you have to pay the hospital and related bills, you need to determine what resources you will use to pay. First, if you don't have health insurance, you can ask the providers to treat you as a "cash" patient. Generally, most providers have a "cash" price that is often a fraction of what they would charge to an insurance company. Some also have special programs available to people who need financial assistance. Most will accept payment plans as well.
Second, if you have health insurance, you can simply use that to pay. However, if you have a high deductible, that might be burdensome. Most health care providers who are "in network" will charge you the negotiated rate they have with your health insurance company. That is often far less than "sticker price" on most services. Keep in mind if you recover money from the responsible party, most health insurers have "reimbursement" provisions built into their contracts. That means you need to reimburse your health care insurance company if you recover money from the responsible party. In general, you only need to reimburse them if you recover. You are not obligated to recover money for them.
Third, you might have coverage for health care expenses under your own automobile insurance policy. Many folks have "medical payments" coverage under their own policy and they don't even know it. Many insurance companies aren't eager to tell you about this, but you need to find out if you have it. In many cases, you can have your bills (copays, etc.) paid by your own car insurance company. You've been paying for this benefit so you might as well use it. As with the health insurance companies, your auto insurance company also has a right to reimbursement if you recover compensation from the responsible party. Make sure you don't ignore these reimbursement provisions. In most cases, your auto insurance company will send you a letter reminding you of this obligation if they pay any funds pursuant to any medical payments coverage.
The main thing you need to keep in mind is that you are responsible for paying your health care bills. You can ultimately recover them from the responsible party, but that doesn't absolve you from the responsibility of paying your bills. Therefore, you can't just ignore or throw those bills in the trash when you get them. Talk to an experienced lawyer about how you might handle your accident related medical bills. There are several approaches you might consider, each with its own pros and cons.
If you are involved in a serious car accident and need advice, feel free to contact our office at (661) 414-7100 to see if we can help.
by Robert Mansour
Robert Mansour is a personal injury lawyer serving Santa Clarita, Valencia,