They want to make sure they don’t have to pay twice.
Twenty years ago, settling a lawsuit was pretty easy. You agreed on a number with the other driver’s insurance, they paid it to you, you signed a release, and everyone went on their own way.
Insurance companies now are aware of a lot of ways they can get sued for the same accident. If you were hurt by a driver that (for instance) State Farm insures, State Farm can be sued by:
• Medicare, if that paid any part of your bills
• Medicaid, if you have health insurance through a Medicaid card.
• Your car insurance company, if your company paid you or your doctor for any bills you received because of the accident.
• Your private health insurance company (such as Humana or Anthem) if that company paid any part of your medical bills.
Twenty years ago, it was simple. When State Farm sent your lawyer the check to pay your claim, it included a release you had to sign. The release said you also promised to hire a lawyer for State Farm if it was sued by any of these companies, and that you had to pay any judgment against State Farm.
From then on, it was pretty much your problem.
But laws changed. Medicare and Medicaid got a lot stricter, and started demanding payment directly out of the settlement funds. The law changed, to make it easier for them to make the car insurance companies pay them.
Private health insurance companies – like Anthem, Aetna, and Blue Cross started watching every dollar. (Aetna used to waive subrogation – the right to get back moneys it paid for medical treatment from the other insurance company. Not any more!)
And car insurance companies started recognizing bills from hospitals and doctors as “liens” – even though direct lawsuits by health providers against people who caused accidents are rare and, from everything I was taught in law school, unenforceable without a written contract between the doctor and the patient assigning the claim to the doctor.
So now, if the driver who hit you was insured by State Farm, they want to make sure that all the other private and government insurance companies are paid, before they will write you a check.
What can you – or your lawyer – do about this? I try to contact every insurance company that paid for any of my client’s treatment, and get a statement from that company of what it paid. As soon as I can.
I tell my client what he or she will have to pay to her doctors and hospitals out of the settlement, and ask if they want me to try to negotiate that, or if they would like to deal with the doctors themselves. That usually solves the problem.
I have been a lawyer over 30 years. Chasing down medical bills and insurance payments is part of representing my clients. If you have a personal injury case in Cincinnati, Ohio or if you want to know what your lawsuit is worth, 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.