Being injured in an accident is one of the most devastating things that can happen to us. We not only experience the pain and suffering of the injury itself, but we also experience effects that can last for years to come. We may lose income due to time off work, which can damage our credit and cause us to lose a home or a vehicle. We may be emotionally traumatized by the experience, hurting our relationships with friends and family. And we may be stuck with huge medical bills that we are responsible for, regardless of who caused the accident.
That is a fundamental difficulty in our legal system. Conducting litigation that is fair to everyone requires a great deal of time. Unfortunately, the financial effects of an accident come into play almost immediately. Navigating through this challenge is difficult, and it’s one that the White Plains, NY Personal Injury Lawyers at the Schwartzapfel firm has made a central part of cases that they have handled.
An essential first step is to establish how much you truly owe. Many hospitals and caregivers have a standard billing rate, but they will negotiate with you if you pay in full.
There are two reasons it is important to do that. First, getting the negotiation settled will give your attorney an exact figure to work with as the case is developed. Second, it will show the court that you’ve made a good-faith effort to be reasonable in the judgment you are seeking. So start with this step and try to get the best rate you can. You can also lower costs in other ways to help build your credibility in court.
The only potential complication of negotiating is that any reduction in the bill typically requires immediate payment. It is unlikely that you’ll have the cash to settle up on the spot, so this may be a step to take late in the game, or one that will at least require you to request a longer time to pay. But you won’t get the discount if you don’t ask, so at least check on it.
This brings us to the next point. As we noted earlier, litigation is much slower than hospital billing, so your credit can be in real peril if you don’t get a settlement right away. Don’t assume that this is just how it has to be.
Your bill was generated automatically, one of hundreds or thousands from the facility that month. No one has personally examined your situation. They have simply provided a computer with information on the various charges for your care, and it has sent you a bill. If you don’t pay it on time, another computer will report you to the credit bureaus.
Intervene before this step. Talk to the provider as soon as you receive a bill. Explain that your intention is to pay all bills in full, but that you are in litigation concerning the accident and won’t have funds to pay the bill until the case is settled. Refer them to your attorney if necessary. You or your lawyer may be able to keep you from showing delinquent with your medical creditors while the case plays out.
The pain and emotional strain of being injured are more than enough disruption to us. We don’t need the added burden of medical bills that we can’t pay. If you’ve been involved in an accident that was someone else’s fault, make sure that you work with your providers to keep you in good standing until your litigation has run its course and provided a settlement that can cover the bills.