Articles Posted in Insurance Bad Faith

Hospital Liens

How the Insurance Company in Your Personal Injury Case May Try to Profit From Your Injury – and What You Can Do About It

I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Personal Injury LawyerIf you have been injured in a personal injury accident because of the careless actions of another person, you may have needed to obtain medical treatment from a hospital emergency room. If you presented yourself to a California emergency room claiming you were injured by another person and did not have the money to pay for services, the hospital may apply for and perfect a hospital lien. Like other liens, a hospital lien gives the hospital that treated you a right to recover payment for its services to you from funds or property. This can include compensation awards you would receive as part of a personal injury lawsuit or other property or funds you may have. The amount of the lien is the value of the medical services you received less any payments made by you or a third party.

Is State Farm or Allstate Insurance giving you what you feel is  an unfair offer on your auto accident? 

As a Sacramento Auto Accident Lawyer since 1982, I am often asked why the offers from insurance companies are so low.

Let me guess? The insurance company. Either the At Fault party or your own insurance company. Insurance companies, theirs

or that of  the at fault party are great at taking premiums but  are difficult or impossible when they have to pay claims.

Here’s an article I wrote which shows just some of the ways insurance companies try to weasel out of paying claims.

medical bills
As a Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer, I have seen many tragic cases where an injured person was clearly not at fault but also could not afford medical care for his or her accident.

One of the traditional insurance coverages that help defray medical expenses of people in motor vehicle accidents is called MedPay Insurance.

Although Medpay coverage is inexpensive and very useful, apparently insurance agents don’t get a high  commission for selling it, and as a result, it is missing or inadequate in many policies.

A severely injured client with  a forthcoming surgery came in to see me the other day to find out how he should best proceed in moving his case forward. He wondered if it was worthwhile to retain a personal injury lawyer  if the at fault parties insurance was limited in amount.

That was a good question, and I’m writing today to explain how this Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney goes about finding the insurance the other driver has.

The first thing, I do is to send a letter to the other party’s insurance asking the amount of insurance coverage is effect. The other party’s insurance cannot reveal the sum of insurance that was in effect without the consent of their insured.  The insurance company is supposed to write their client asking permission to revel policy limits. If the client consents and if the other driver, doesn’t have enough insurance to cover the injury, I will encourage the potential  client to contact the other insurance directly,  request a Dec Sheet showing policy limits and to settle the case for such policy limits themselves. It’s not fair to take a fee on cases that the insurance company will clearly pay without a lawyers involvement.

When a person who has been in an auto accident calls a personal injury lawyer, the lawyer or his staff will conduct a short interview to get the facts of the situation. In short, this will include questions regarding the facts surrounding how the collision occurred, where it occurred, the injuries and the treatment a person has obtained since the date of accident until the phone call. If a police report was taken, the office will also request the Traffic Collision Report number.

car accident.PNGThe personal injury attorney’s office will also ask questions regarding auto insurance coverage – both of the person who caused the accident and the insurance coverage of the injured party. Often, an injured party will readily report to the personal injury lawyer the auto insurance coverage of the person at fault. However, at times some injured parties resent questions when asked to provide information regarding their own auto insurance coverage.

A personal injury lawyer has good reason to ask if the injured party was carrying auto insurance coverage at the time of the accident. In California, voters passed “Prop 213.” This means that California state law requires all drivers to have auto insurance. Failure to carry auto insurance at the time of an accident will limit recovery rights. An attorney needs to know this immediately to be able to properly evaluate and handle the injured persons claim.

People purchase auto insurance both because the law requires it and because they don’t want to lose their life savings if they’re at fault in an accident, the other driver is seriously injured and the jury rules against them for a sum in excess of their policy limits.

The best way to protect oneself, of course, is to purchase a policy with high liability limits. The minimum any driver with an income over $50,000 yearly should purchase is $100,000/$300,000. If you earn over $100,000 yearly, at least a $300,000/$500,000 policy should be purchased. If you can afford an umbrella policy, that will provide excess protection to you at a modest annual premium. (Make sure your auto policy and umbrella policies have uninsured limits equal to your liability limits — that will protect you up to the amount of your policy if YOU are injured).

So let’s say you’ve been smart and responsible. You’ve purchased an adequate policy with even a strong umbrella and you’re in a very serious accident. The other party has had a severe injury resulting therefrom and may never work again. You’d fully expect the insurance you’ve paid your premiums on to pay a fair settlement and get you out of the lawsuit, wouldn’t you?