Do you have to pay your medical bills from a personal injury settlement?
If you settle a personal injury claim, the total sum awarded – less attorneys’ fees – will have to go toward some of the people or companies you owe.
Damages, in a personal injury lawsuit, will usually include both past and present medical bills, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering and in some cases, punitive damages, which go beyond the costs already associated with the case as a way to punish the party at fault.
Who’s on the list of those who require repayment after you receive your settlement?
- Medical providers. While you will likely have to pay the outstanding medical debt after a personal injury settlement, doctors will often negotiate a lower fee so that you don’t exhaust your entire settlement.
- Auto insurance companies. If you are in an accident and auto insurance pays your claims, in most cases, insurance companies expect to be repaid after a settlement has been received. However, insurance companies rarely sue their own clients for reimbursements. If the other driver’s insurance company is the one that paid out, however, they may want their funds.
- There are some stipulations, though. If compensation exceeds the economic and noneconomic losses that were incurred due to the injury, the company that paid out will be eligible for payment. If the settlement, after attorney’s fees and legal expenses, is only enough to cover the plaintiff’s claim and associated expenses, the insurance company likely will not be compensated, and a court can make that determination if necessary.
- Medicare. If Medicare covered some of the costs of health care following an injury, the program is entitled to be compensated as part of the settlement, although the entire payment may not be necessary. Consult your attorney to determine how much Medicare will need to be reimbursed.
- Health insurance companies. If you receive a settlement following a personal injury claim, your health insurance will request reimbursement. Again, because it is a complex process, consult your attorney to find out how much you owe.
- Workers’ compensation reimbursements. If workers’ comp covered some of your medical expenses, you will be asked to repay those costs after settling in court.
- Legal fees. After your attorney helps you win your personal injury case, he or she will be entitled to a percentage of the proceedings if your attorney is working on a contingency fee contract, which means that you won’t owe anything if you don’t win your suit. Contingency fees vary from case to case and attorney to attorney, but generally run between 25 to 50 percent, which cover the costs of depositions, subpoenas, witness fees and a wide range of other costs including procuring your medical records in order to build the best case possible so you are more likely to win in court.
The right personal injury lawyer, however, will make sure that their clients receive a fair settlement, even after all the bills have been paid, especially if pain and suffering are part of your suit.
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