Your lawyer can offer to pay the doctors and insurance companies a percentage of what you owe them once the case is settled. If they take it, you’re off the hook.
If you have a car accident, and you’re hurt, you’re going to have hospital and doctor bills. If you’re fortunate and you’re able, you have insurance to cover those bills. But the health insurer is entitled to be repaid by you at the end of the case – it’s in the policy.
So either way, at the end of the case, your doctors and/or your insurance companies want to be paid. And sometimes the insurance company for the other driver doesn’t offer you enough to pay the doctors, insurance companies and get a fair amount back.
So here is what your lawyer can do. Once he knows what the insurance company for the other driver is willing to pay, he can do some math, get your approval, and call up everybody on the IOU list and ask them for their bottom dollar.
I do it all the time, and every personal injury lawyer I know in Cincinnati does it.
Why would the doctors or the insurance companies go along with this? Because they will get the money right away, and they don’t have to pay a lawyer to collect it.
Why won’t they do this? Sometimes, they object to such settlements “in principal”; they want to be paid every cent, or 85%, or whatever their number is.
But their options are usually limited – with the exception of some health insurance companies. They can sue you – but then they’ll have to hire a lawyer to file the suit. And then they’ll have to collect – which is usually a long, slow process.
And a lot of the time, your lawyer can portray you as a person without money. So the discount deal he’s offering your doctor or health insurer looks better.
Here is a better question: Why would you not want to have your lawyer bargain with your doctors? Because you might have to go back to the same doctor or therapist whose bill you just cut – who might not want to treat someone who doesn’t pay the full bill.
Health insurance companies can be a special case. Sometimes they have clauses in their insurance policies that let them cut off your coverage if you don’t agree to cooperate fully with them in helping them recover their money.
You don’t want that to happen. And more and more, I am seeing them work with artificial “guidelines”, where they won’t agree to a reduction of more than a small percentage.
And finally, lawyers are restricted in what they can do by the Rules of Professional Conduct, which are the rules the Supreme Court Of Ohio enacted to govern attorneys’ behavior. Rules 1.15 (d) and (e) say that if the lawyer is aware of
– a “statutory lien” on the settlement funds (for example, a financing statement filed by a loan company),
– a judgment recognizing someone else’s claim on the settlement funds,
– or a written agreement signed by the lawyer or client guaranteeing that a payment will be made on the settlement funds
Then the lawyer has to pay the person who is entitled to be paid out of the settlement money. If there is a dispute about the funds, the lawyer has to hold them until the dispute is resolved.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. Some of my most important work comes at the end of the case. If you’ve been injured in an accident, talk with an experienced Cincinnati injury lawyer> about the case. Call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775.
Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.