In our line of work, we sometimes encounter clients who, after being injured, need financial assistance when it comes to covering their medical bills. After all, just because a lawsuit is pending against the party responsible for their injuries doesn’t mean a client’s hospital bills and other medical costs are put on hold until the litigation has run its course. As clients recover—and no matter the severity of their injuries—medical bills tend to pile up.
Below, we’ve answered a few questions we often hear from clients regarding medical expenses following an injury.
If I’m injured and can’t pay my medical bills, can my lawyer loan me money?
Unfortunately, due to various ethical issues, a lawyer cannot loan their clients money.
If I have filed a lawsuit, will my medical bills be put on hold until the suit is resolved?
In a perfect world, this would be the case. But a client is still generally responsible for repaying the costs of their medical care even if they’ve retained an attorney and filed a lawsuit.
Does the type of injury or accident in which I was involved matter when it comes to paying for my medical care?
In almost every case, no matter the injury or accident, you or your health insurance provider are generally responsible for your medical bills. The exception to this, however, is if you were involved in an auto accident in a “no fault” state, in which case some of your medical bills may be covered by your automobile insurer. It worth noting, though, that in some “no fault” states there is a limit—say, $10,000—on how much a car insurance company will cover when it comes to medical bills.
If I can’t pay medical bills, can my lawyer help me?
If you find yourself unable to afford your medical bills, there’s nothing wrong with asking your attorney if he or she can point you in the right direction. For instance, in our Atlanta office, we send clients to The Injury Specialists, a group that has created an open-access medical program to provide uninsured or under-insured patients with access to medical care services they need.
Are there any other options?
Yes, in some cases. For example, when an individual is uninsured, under-insured, or has a high deductible or co-pay, they may be qualified to enter into a “consensual lien agreement,” or, depending on the state, a “letter of protection,” as a means of paying their medical bills. Through a consensual lien agreement, the injured party essentially enters a contract that allows him or her to receive medical treatment now and repay the costs later with money recovered through a lawsuit. In these instances, an attorney may be able to help you negotiate the terms of the lien agreement with the healthcare provider.
It’s important to note, however, that this option may not be for everyone. Many healthcare providers are reluctant to accept consensual lien agreements in lieu of traditional payment. Additionally, some consensual lien agreement providers will not accept someone who was injured if they have not retained an attorney and filed a lawsuit.