The Problem with Insurance in Automobile accidents and Semi Tractor-Trailer Collisions which Cause Serious Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

Indianapolis wrongful death attorneysIn one of my last posts, I talked about what the insurance companies do not want you to know. They do not want you to know that most, if not all persons who were driving a car, who did not drive safely (i.e. did not follow the rules of the road) who injured another Hoosier and who has been sued by that injured person has insurance to pay for the harm caused. Everyone has insurance. It is mandatory.

What you may not know is that not everyone has enough insurance to pay for all the harm they cause. For example, say you are in a drunk driving accident. Say you are hurt badly. Say the drunk driver has $50,000.00 in liability insurance to pay for they harm he caused. Your medical bills alone are $150,000.00, and that does not figure in your lost wages and your permanent injury which will not allow you to return to your old job. Ah, but you say, I was smart, I bought Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) to protect myself. UIM coverage is a type of coverage you can buy that will pay for the serious personal injury caused by another who does not have enough insurance to cover your harms. Now you say to yourself, well I bought UIM insurance in the amount of $100,000. You think to yourself, well at least I have a total of $150,000.00 ($50,000 from the drunk driver and $100,000 UIM) to help me pay my bills. You call your insurance company and tell them you are making your claim for the $100,000.00 in UIM coverage you bought to protect yourself. The insurance company says, Sorry, in Indiana, we (the Insurance Companies) are protected by a law (which we lobbied hard for by wining and dining legislators and getting the kind of access to power that you Joe Hoosier can only dream of getting) which allows us to offset the $100,000 of UIM coverage you bought from us (and paid full price for) by the amount of the drunk drivers liability insurance. You say, that’s crazy, why didn’t you (Insurance Company) tell me that when I bought the UIM coverage? You get some snarky reply like because you did not ask.

You are mad so you go to a lawyer to find out your rights. The lawyer tells you that the Insurance companies influence in Indiana is strong and that they do indeed enjoy the protection of the setoff.

I am that lawyer, and I have had that conversation with many Hoosiers who just can’t believe its true. I tell them we all need to stand together against these kinds of injustice, but it is difficult to overcome the influence the insurance companies money achieves. I say lets get rid of the setoff. Let Hoosiers get the benefit of what they thought they were buying to protect themselves.

Protect yourself with high levels of Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

We all know that drunk drivers cause drunk driving accidents. We also know that most drunk drivers are also irresponsible when it comes to getting car insurance. Most don’t have it or if they do they have the state minimum coverage of $25,000.00. There are also lots of folks who just cannot afford more insurance than the State minimum. We also know that a serious personal injury can easily run up medical bills of more than $25,000.00 dollars. This does not even take into account the lost wages caused when you are seriously injured or suffer wrongful death.

So how do you protect yourself and your family from this potential financial disaster? One method is to buy high limits of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorists coverage. This coverage will kick in to cover those damages that the driver who caused the collision cannot pay because they either have no insurance, and no job, or little insurance and almost no other way to cover the costs caused by the car crash they caused. Uninsured pays when the cause of the car crash has no insurance. Underinsured pays when the person who caused the auto crash has low limits of liability insurance. UM/UIM coverage is inexpensive compared to the cost of liability insurance and is even more inexpensive when compared to not being able to work and having medical bills that drive you into bankruptcy. Please talk to your insurance agent about how to protect yourself with high limits of Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage.

How to Get Medical Bills Paid When Injured

When you are injured and have lost wages, have medical bills and serious injuries you are confronted with financial hurdles you were not expecting . If you remember these tips it can save you some stress and get your medical bills paid more easily and efficiently. 

If you are injured in a traffic accident, a fall, by product failure or other means you are going to incur medical expenses.  Often injured people think the other side (i.e. the person or business that caused their injury ) should pay for their medical expenses.  This is not always the best path.

medical billing and personal injurySometimes you have no choice, for example if you are hurt at work your workers compensation should pay medical expenses and some wage loss for your injuries. Note however even if you are hurt at work there may be another party that also caused your injury and you may have a personal injury claim against them as well.  That is helpful because workers compensation does not pay for all your injuries and harms. If you are a trucker in a truck collision you may have a workers compensation claim and a claim against other driver(s) who contributed to the collision occurring. This claim would compensate you for your full wages,  pain and suffering and other harms not covered under workers compensation. 

If it is not workers compensation then having the “at fault ” parties insurance paying for your expenses takes your control of your medical care out of your hands and places control of your medical care in the hands of the wrongdoers insurance company.   That can be disastrous. When the other insurance company says they will pay but then does not do so promptly or disagrees with the method or amount of treatment it can affect your physical recovery and economic recovery.  This can affect your ability to get well and gives them control over your care. 

There are usually 3 types of insurance that could help you with your medical expenses. The first is workers compensation if you are hurt at work and we have discussed that already. The second is your own health insurance , if you have it.  This could include private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.  The third  coverage is what is called med pay and it is like a  health insurance that is tied to a particular vehicle or location and will pay a limited amount of medical bills. Health care providers will want to use you med pay first  because they will get more money that way. For your protection you are better to have medical providers bill your insurance ( even if it is Medicare or Medicaid first ) and use your med pay to pay any deductible or co-pays.  This gives you the best protection and gets your bills paid.The last thing you need when injured in collision, or accident is for a collection agency to keep calling you regarding an unpaid medical bill

If  a medical provider refuses to bill your health insurance or an insurer refuses to pay a bill you should consult an attorney who handles personal injury claims to help you get your medical expenses payment plan on the right track.

Five Things to Do if You Are Hurt in an Accident

If you are hurt in and accident whether it be auto, truck or motorcycle there are five things you should do to make sure that your rights are protected.

Indianapapolis Auto Accident AttorneysIf there are  injuries or property damage it is important to call the police and have them do a report. This better insures that you will get the other parties correct address and accurate insurance information.  It is also important that you, if possible,  or someone on your behalf take pictures of the scene , vehicles , skid marks and other drivers.. This provides valuable information for later on if there is a dispute as to any facts. 

This is easy now with most cell phones having cameras . If your phone  has video capability this can also be helpful , especially if the other driver is admitting their fault at the scene.  It is also important to get the names, addresses and phone numbers of any witnesses at the scene. Often not all witnesses give statements and often not all witnesses appear in the police report. 

You should contact your insurance company and find out what coverage’s you have that might apply.  You might have medical coverage that would supplement your health insurance and if you do not have health insurance it might pay some of your bills . Your property damage coverage could be helpful if the other sides insurance in reluctant to resolve your property damage claim. In serious personal injury claims uninsured and underinsured coverage’s might provide relief to you where the other driver either has no insurance or has  insufficient coverage. 

If you are injured you should seek medical treatment promptly because often the earlier treatment is sought it results in a better physical recovery. You should also call a lawyer that you know and find out if they do these types of cases.If they do not then ask them to  refer you  a personal injury lawyer  so you can find out what you should do and not do. This will preclude your doing something that might  make any claim you might have more difficult or in the more extreme case miss a deadline that could result in your claim being denied.

What is an Umbrella Policy of Insurance and Why Have One

As trial lawyers representing injured persons, we are often asked what is an Umbrella insurance policy and why should I have one.  This is an important question because it affects others and yourself.  As any insurance policy is for the protection of others and yourself, the more coverage you purchase, the more you are protected.

Indianapolis Personal Injury AttorneysAn umbrella policy is an “extra” policy on top of your regular policy (which can cover your home car or business).  The umbrella policy pays on a claim only after the underlying, or main, policy limits are paid in full.  Thus, as an example, if you are in a car accident that is your fault, and the person you hit is severely injured (brain injury, paralyzed, broken bones etc.) or killed, you would be protected against a judgment by that person against you up to the limits of your underlying (main) policy and the limit of your umbrella policy.

Typically, insurance companies require a higher limit on the underlying policy before they will sell you an umbrella policy.  The underlying limit of coverage is usually required to be at least one hundred thousand dollars, sometimes two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, sometimes even more.  Umbrella policies usually are sold in million dollar increments.

In our example, if you purchased one hundred thousand dollars of coverage and a one million dollar umbrella policy, you would be protected from a claim by the injured person against you in the amount of one million one hundred thousand dollars.  If a judgment higher than that amount were entered against you, the injured person could collect the judgment against you by having the Sheriff execute on your property to pay the balance.

Obviously, having enough insurance is important to protect, (1) to the injured person to compensate them for any harm you may cause); (2) your own assets; and (3) yourself in the case where the accident is not your fault but rather the fault of another driver.  If that other, at fault driver, has little or no insurance, you would still be protected by your own underlying policy and umbrella policy (be sure your company links the two policies together) for your own injuries, or loss of income from work caused by your injuries.  So, ask your insurance agent about umbrella insurance policies, and if you can do it, protect yourself and others with adequate insurance coverage for any serious injuries or death you might cause, or you might suffer at the hands of a negligent driver.

Insurance and Serious Accident Claims

truck accident lawyerYou are a motorist on the road, a large truck, a semi tractor-trailer, without warning, pulls into your lane  hits you and sends you into the guard rail.  Your car flips and comes to a rest on its top.  You and your family have on seat belts and survive a potential wrongful death, but your family has suffered serious personal injury.  Your first concern is getting proper medical attention.  In a few days you are assured that everyone will heal, but it will take a lot of therapy and pain.  Who is going to pay for it?  Well, the law says that the trucker who caused the highway collision , and his employer, are responsible for paying to make up for the harm they cause.  You can rest easy knowing that in order for the truck to be on the road it is required to have insurance to pay for the harm caused by the tractor-trailer accident.  It’s the law.  The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCFR) mandate the following:

387.7 Financial responsibility required.(a) No motor carrier shall operate a motor vehicle until the motor carrier has obtained and has in effect the minimum levels of financial responsibility as set forth in §387.9 of this subpart.(b)(1) Policies of insurance, surety bonds, and endorsements required under this section shall remain in effect continuously until terminated. Cancellation may be effected by the insurer or the insured motor carrier giving 35 days’ notice in writing to the other. The 35 days’ notice shall commence to run from the date the notice is mailed. Proof of mailing shall be sufficient proof of notice.

The minimum amount of insurance is $750,000.00.  Most responsible trucking companies carry more than this minimum amount.  They carry more because large truck collisions cause serious personal injury including amputations, paralysis, and wrongful death.

Rest assured Indiana Law also states that all cars on the road are also required to carry liability insurance.

If you are ever on a jury, know that the person who caused the harm has insurance, and that the insurance will pay for the harm done.  The driver is not going to have to pay for the harm out of their own pocket.

The Truth About Underinsured Motorist Coverage

If you suffer a serious personal injury, such as a broken neck with paralysis, brain injury, or even a wrongful death in a car accident, drunk driving accident or even a truck accident, there is a good chance that the person who caused your injuries does not have enough insurance to fully and fairly compensate you for all of your injuries.  Serious personal injury can lead to huge medical bills, lost wages and possibly the inability to work in the future.  If you suffer a wrongful death, who will take care of our family.  One way to protect yourself is to buy “Underinsured Motorist Coverage”  when you buy your car insurance.  This type of insurance pays you when another person causes you injury but does not have enough insurance to fairly compensate you for the injuries they cause you. I recommend that you buy as much of this insurance as you can afford.  Your family’s financial well being is worth it.

So let’s say you buy $100,000.00 dollars worth of Underinsured Motorist Coverage.  You suffer a serious personal injury as the result of a drunk drivers negligence.  Your medical bills total more than $75,000.00 and your lost wages total more than $25,000.00.  The drunk driver has the minimum limits of insurance, $25,000.00 dollars.  So you think, I am okay, I have $100,000.00 dollars of insurance and the other guy has $25,000.00 so I will recover $125,000.00 which should get me close, but not quite, to full and fair compensation.  Right?  Wrong!!!!  Indiana, our courts have allowed the insurance companies to put anti stacking language in every policy.  The anti-stacking language says that your insurance company gets a credit for the amount of coverage the drunk driver has.  So in this case, because the drunk driver has $25,000.00 in coverage, your insurance carrier gets a credit for that and only has to pay you $75,000.00 for a total recovery of only $100,000.00 which leaves you with a lot less than full and fair compensation.  You might even have to file bankruptcy or sell your home to pay your bills, while the drunk driver and your insurance companies have no other responsibilities.

The only way to protect you and your family is to buy more underinsured motorist coverage, because the insurance companies won’t sell it to your without the anti stacking language.  For years, I have been involved with trying to get the legislature to protect Hoosiers by changing this law but the insurance lobby is too powerful and no changes have been made.  Just thought you should know.

What Does State Minimum Auto Insurance Mean in Indiana?

Why does the State of Indiana require that there be minimum insurance?  As your Indiana Serious personal Injury lawyer, we see firsthand the kinds of harm car accidents can cause.  It does not matter if the crash is a drunk driving accident or a highway accident. These harms, including brain injury, broken bones, spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis or amputation, can interfere with any Hoosiers ability to earn a living and enjoy their life.  So when a driver carries the minimum state limit of liability insurance coverage, that is all the insurance company will have to pay you even if your injuries cost you far more than the amount available.  The State minimum insurance amount in Indiana is $25,000.00.  If you are injured and your injuries require you to be in the hospital for a few days, your medical bills will get high quickly and $25,000.00 probably is not going to fairly compensate you.  What do you do then?  Well you can sue the other driver, but chances are that the other driver has state minimum limits because they have little in assets and the state minimum is all they can really afford.  Therefore, A judgment against that person does little good because there is little chance they will ever be able to fairly compensate you for their negligence.

Your best defense is buying three different kinds of insurance in addition to your liability coverage.  The first two are very similar and are called Uninsured Motorist coverage (UM) and then Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM). If the drunk driver, or any driver, has no insurance your claim will be against your own UM coverage.  If the other driver has state minimum coverage then your claim will be against your own UIM coverage because the State minimum coverage was not enough to cover all your losses.  I recommend you purchase as high a limit of UM/UIM coverage as you can afford.  After all, it may be the only insurance available if you have a serious personal injury or even a wrongful death.

The other type of insurance is medical payments insurance.  This insurance will pay your medical bills, up to the limit of coverage you purchase, for injuries sustained while a passenger in your car. It is a kind of health insurance. It comes in very handy when you have a high deductible on your regular health policy.  Med Pay Insurance is very affordable.  I recommend that you buy as much as you can, but at a minimum you should buy an amount equal to your deductable on your health insurance.  That way you will have little or nothing out of pocket if you are hurt in a crash or accident.

Facebook and Twitter – Your right to Privacy and Insurance Companies

social-media-people If you are in a collision and are injured, you should be aware that what you say and do after the collision can be often discovered by the insurance company for the person or business that hurt you. I sat in a deposition recently with a client and the other lawyer wanted my client to sign an authorization to give them access to my clients Facebook page.  We live in the Internet age and many people will post or write things about their daily lives on their Facebook page or other internet media and think that it is only for those whom they select to read. Some courts are allowing insurance companies access to injured persons Facebook pages and some carriers send investigator out to try to "befriend " an injured party to get access to Facebook to see if there are any comments about how the injures occurred or what the extent of the injuries are and how they are described.  Sometimes injured persons even post photos that the insurance companies can use against you in your claim.  

A good rule to live by is that you should not do anything you would not want your mother to read about in the newspapers. A corollary to that would be you should not post anything on Facebook and other sources of internet media that you would not want someone to read (i.e. just because you have not befriended someone does not mean they may not be able to get access to your thoughts, blogs and pictures). Oh, in our case I was going to object to my client signing the release but it was moot since he did not have a Facebook page…

When the other driver has no license and no insurance

I learned recently that Indiana has over 5,000,000 licensed drivers and that it also has over 380,000 drivers whose licenses have been suspended.  Unfortunately suspending someone’s license does not mean they will stop driving. Many accidents and crashes are caused by drivers who have a suspended license.  Their lack of concern regarding  not following the  rules does not stop with the license . Unfortunately most of them probably have no insurance as well. If you are in a collision or crash with a driver whose license is suspended then it is important that you have taken steps in advance to protect yourself for not only your property damage but your injuries, medical bills, lost wages and other damages you may suffer. Your best protection is to  be sure that you have sufficient limits on your uninsured motorists coverage. These days it does not take long to incur medical bills far in excess of the states minimum required insurance limit. You should check with your agent to see about increasing your uninsured and underinsured(when the other driver has insurance but just not enough) limits on your policy . Often increasing these limits to $100,000.00 or greater is not that expensive. I would encourage you to also check into what is called an umbrella policy which can increase your protection to $1,000,000.00.  This coverage is often a small percentage of the policy premium. When you are driving on the road and the driver in front, behind or beside you has a suspended license , the last thing you need to worry about in a crash is not having enough coverage to protect you and your passengers.

How Long Do I Have to File A Claim?

“How long do I have to bring a claim?” is a question we often hear from potential clients.  Generally in Indiana you have two years to bring a claim in court for negligence. Failure to either have settled your case or not filed in court within that two year period can mean you lose your rights to continue with the claim. 

As with everything in the law there are exceptions and that is why it is prudent to contact a lawyer early after an event to find out what exceptions might be applicable to your situation.  For instance, any claim against a governmental agency requires a specific “tort claim notice” to be given to the responsible agency within 180 days or you lose your right to pursue a claim. Medical negligence claims, especially for children, have different time frames for claims to be filed to preserve your right to continue.  Some insurance policies for uninsured or underinsured motorist claims require the claim to be brought within one year.  

The safest and smartest thing to do if you are hurt as a result of someone else’s negligence is to contact a lawyer you can trust – one who is familiar with this area of law, and find out after giving them the facts what time limitation applies to you.  Most lawyers will discuss this with you without charging you regardless of whether you hire them or not.  Ask your friends or your family lawyer who they would recommend you to contact for this advice.  Any of us at Young and Young would be happy to talk with you – please give us a call.

Is My Childs Moped Covered By My Homeowners Insurance Policy?

If you have a child who is lucky enough to have a moped or a four-wheel off road vehicle  (ATV) there are some things you need to know.  Sometimes the child will be injured, through the negligence of another while riding the moped or the off road vehicle.  Those injuries may include spinal cord injuries, brain injury, back injury, amputation, paralysis (either paraplegia, quadriplegia or just a single limb), broken bones, herniated discs, facial injuries and more. A good accident attorney or accident lawyer knows that these vehicles may not be covered on your homeowners policy or auto policy.   Here’s why, and what you need to do to protect your children.

The reason the vehicle may not be covered is because it may not be a listed vehicle on your auto insurance.  Most auto insurance policies require, if the vehicle is owned by you, it must be listed under the policy to be covered.   The first thing you need to know is that your insurance is a matter of contract.  In Indiana, generally, the Insurance companies are free to write into their contracts restrictions you would not know about or even imagine could be allowed in the contract.  So, the first thing you must do is read your contract of insurance.  If you do not feel comfortable doing this, you can pay a lawyer for an hour of his/her time to tell you what the contract means.  If you do not wish to pay a lawyer, you can sit down with your insurance agent and have them explain the coverage to you.  Be aware, however, that your agent, although well intentioned works for the insurance company and has no legal training.  So if you do ask your agent to explain the provisions of the policy, know that their advice may not be accurate.

A second measure for your protection is to inform your agent, in writing and keeping a copy for yourself, that you have a moped or other off road vehicle and you what to make sure it is covered under your homeowners policy, or your auto policy.  It will probably raise your rates a bit, but it is worth it to protect yourself and your children.

At Young and Young, we have over 55 years of experiences helping people recover the proper compensation for their injuries.  Please give us a call.

The Differences Between Medicare and Medicaid

People who are injured in truck accidents, semi tractor-trailer highway accidents, motorcycle accidents, construction accidents, car wrecks with drunk drivers and other automobile accidents often must rely on Medicaid or Medicare to pay the bills for their injuries.  It does not matter if the injury is a brain injury, a spinal cord injury resulting in paralysis, such as paraplegia or quadriplegia, back injury, blindness, amputation or even wrongful death.  Smart accident attorneys and accident lawyers know the difference between these two government sponsored health plans.

First, Medicare is a federal government program funded with federal government dollars.  Medicaid is a state run program which is funded in large part (upwards of 80%) by federal dollars.  The rest of the money is contributed by state funds.  All the money we are talking about come from tax dollars.  These two programs make up a large part of the debt you hear about on the news these days.  There is some concern about whether we can sustain these programs, but that is a discussion for another day.  What you need to know today is that these programs are functioning to assist lower income and disabled Americans pay their medical bills and obtain medical services.

Medicare is available to those who have reached retirement age or are receiving Social Security Disability. It is an entitlement program, meaning that if you are at retirement age, or on Social Security Disability, you are entitled to the benefits of the Medicare program.  Medicaid is a needs based program.  This means that you must have limited resources (money).  I believe the eligibility cap these days is less than $2,000.00 in assets.  Therefore you are only eligible for Medicaid if you meet these need requirements.

Each program has its own rules and regulations about what it will pay for.  You should visit the website of the Social Security Administration to find out the type and limit of those benefits.   You should visit your local state Medicaid office for information about Medicaid benefits.

If you are injured and these programs pay for your bills, but the cause of your injuries was the negligence of another person, and you recover compensation from that person, both programs are entitled to be repaid some or all of the money paid for your bills.  Smart injury attorneys know how to deal with and negotiate with these programs on your behalf.  John P. Young knows the ins and outs of how these programs work to help you pay your bills if you are injured in a car accident or a construction accident.  Please, give him a call.

Are You Underinsured?

In today’s challenging economic times, the coverage you carry in your automobile insurance policy may protect you more than you realize. Unfortunately, many drivers carry no insurance or allow their policy to lapse (both of which are illegal), and many more only get the state minimum limits.

The mandatory minimum automobile liability coverage (that is, what the responsibility party, i.e., the person at fault in the accident, owes to the injured party) in Indiana is as follows: at least $25,000 for bodily injury to one person; at least $50,000 for all bodily injuries, and at least $10,000 for property damage. This is referred to as 25/50/10 coverage. But again, this is only the minimum required by law, and can be a drop in the bucket in the case of a serious accident. In other words, if you are the responsible party in a serious collision on the road, you could wind up personally on the hook for more money damages beyond what your policy provides.

Operating a motor vehicle in Indiana without liability insurance can result in a driver’s license suspension of three months to one year along with fines.

You can help to protect yourself if you are in an accident that is not your fault by making sure your uninsured and underinsured limits are sufficient to protect you. The state minimums for this coverage are: uninsured motorists–bodily injury $25000/$50,000, underinsured motorists–bodily injury $50,000, and property damage $10,000. All auto insurance policies in Indiana must offer this kind of coverage unless you reject the coverage in writing.

If you or someone in your car is injured in a traffic accident by an uninsured driver, then the uninsured motorist coverage from your own auto policy steps in and provides financial protection up to the limits that you purchased. Likewise if you are in a car wreck with someone who has minimum state limits, then your underinsured motorist coverage steps in to protect you financially up to the limits for that coverage.

You should review your current policy with your insurance agent and inquire as to the additional cost that would increase your current liability coverage, medical payments, and uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. You will find the additional premiums can be reasonable, and it is much better to put the added protection in place now than to wait until after being in a collision when it is too late.  The additional insurance protection is not retroactive.

Do I have to Repay Medicare if I am Hurt in an Accident and Medicare Pays My Medical Bill?

Having Medicare at a time when you are injured in a car wreck with a drunk driver gives you great peace of mind. It does not have to be a traffic accident with a drunk driver, it could be a highway accident with a semi-tractor trailer, a truck accident with a motorcycle, or any kind of vehicle accident or truck crash.  It is unlikely to be a construction accident because most people who are on Medicare are either retired or disabled. As you know Medicare will pay for all types of traumatically caused injuries including spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis including paraplegia, and quadriplegia, back injury, amputations, brain injury, electrocution, burns, and most serious personal injuries. Medicare will even pay for medical bills incurred if your injuries result in wrongful death.

Medicare, however, does not want to be responsible for the payment of medical bills if your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence. Medicare wants the negligent person’s car insurance or liability insurance to be responsible for your injuries. After all, it was the person who was negligent that caused your injuries, and that person purchased insurance to cover them if they are negligent, therefore, the negligent person, and their insurance company should be responsible for compensating you. Fortunately, Medicare will pay your bills as they come due. You then, as the Medicare recipient, have certain duties to Medicare to repay Medicare for the amounts they paid for the bills you received because of the injuries caused by the negligent person. This duty is known, in the law, as the duty of SUBROGATION. It is not important to remember the name, but it is important to know that the duty exists, and if you do not repay Medicare at the time of your settlement, Medicare can pursue you later and recover the money they paid.

Smart accident attorneys and smart injury attorneys know the procedure for contacting Medicare to insure your Medicare obligations are met. This procedure starts with you completing a form which appoints your car accident lawyer or truck crash lawyer as your representative to Medicare for the purpose of negotiating your lien. This is handled through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The actual paperwork is processed through the Medicare Secondary Payer Recovery Center (MSPRC). You can learn more about the process at www.msprc.info. The MSPRC requires you or your accident attorney to submit information about your injury, the person who caused it and that person’s insurance company. Medicare will then provide you with the amount of the medical bills they paid for your injury. Once you reach a settlement with the person who caused your injury, this information must be submitted to the MSPRC, and a final payment letter will be issued by them telling you how much you are obligated to repay.

At Young and Young, we have helped many, many clients work their way through the Medicare repayment maze. We are ready willing and able to assist you, and your loved ones and friends, when you are injured by the negligence of others. Please give us a call.

If I am Hurt and My Health Insurance Pays my Bills Do I have to Pay Them Back?

Did you see the Jets play the Chargers the other day?  The Jets had a defensive lineman who broke his hand midway through the game.  He went to the sidelines where they taped him up and sent him back into the game.  He looked like he had a big black club at the end of his arm.  He could play defense but it was hard for him to grab onto the opposing quarterback, David Rivers.  As a Colts fan, I hope Peyton Manning doesn’t get clubbed by the guy.  The point I am trying to make though has to do with insurance, not the injury itself. 

If you are in a car wreck, highway accident or a motorcycle wreck with a drunk driver, chances are high that you are going to go to a hospital.  If you are hit by a semi tractor trailer your injuries can be quite severe.  They may include a back injury, spinal cord injury, paralysis, brain injury, amputation or severe burns.  Good accident attorneys and injury lawyers know that traffic accidents are a major cause of injury and lost productivity in the United States.  One of the first things you will be asked at the hospital is for your insurance information.  Which one of the three potential insurances do you give them?  You will be tempted to give them the insurance company for the person who caused the road accident.  The immediate problem with this is you probably do not know the name of that company when you are in the hospital.  Good accident lawyers can obtain this information for you, but when you are the hospital, you will not know.  That is okay, the liability insurance carrier for the person who caused the traffic accident will not pay your medical bills as they come due.  The insurance company for the person who caused the vehicle accident will only pay you a one-time settlement, and only if you sign a full release.

This leaves you with the two other kinds of insurance available to you, your health insurance and the medical payments insurance on your car.  In previous blogs we discussed what Medical Payments Insurance is, we will not address that here.  We really do not need to discuss the difference between the two types of insurance here, because the obligation to pay these insurance carriers back is the same.  The fact is you give the hospital one or the other of these two types of insurance and these insurance carriers will pay your medical bills. Now to the heart of the matter- do you have to pay either or both back when you settle your claim with the insurance carrier for the person who caused the motorcycle accident?

The short answer is probably yes.  Most policies contain a subrogation paragraph.  Subrogation is just a fancy word meaning obligation to reimburse.  The paragraph states something to the effect that you agree to reimburse your insurance carrier out of any money you receive from the person who caused the fatal accident.  So how much do you have to repay?  The maximum you will have to pay (this discussion does not apply to an ERISA health program) is 66 and 2/3% of the amount the health insurer paid.  This is because of the existence of Indiana Statutes which require the company requesting repayment to share the cost of collecting your money (I.e. attorney fees).  If you were partially the cause of the highway accident, or there was not enough insurance available to compensate you for the entire amount of your injuries, the company claiming reimbursement will have to accept even less.  This is because you are not being fully compensated, so the insurance company claiming reimbursement is not entitled to being fully repaid. 

If you collect nothing from the person who caused the accident then you do not have to repay your health insurer anything.  Next time we will discuss construction injuries and workers compensation issues.

Insurance at Trial

Did you know that in most every trial in Indiana which involves a car accident, or a highway accident, the defendant (the person who the hurt person believes caused the collision) has insurance.  This insurance pays for the defendant’s attorney — every bit of it.  This insurance pays for all the costs the defendant has in going to trial — every bit of it.  If the defendant caused the hurt person’s injuries, such as a brain injury, back injury, paralysis, or even wrongful death, the insurance will pay for the compensation the jury tells the defendant he must pay the hurt person to make up for the injuries he caused.

The insurance companies have convinced Judges that to tell the jury the truth about the insurance is not fair to the insurance companies.  The insurance companies do not think Hoosier Jurors are either smart enough or honest enough to know the truth.  They think that if the jurors know that the defendant has insurance they will overcompensate the hurt person.  So, the jurors are not told the defendant has insurance.  I AM HERE TO TELL YOU THAT IF YOU ARE A JUROR IN INDIANA AND YOU ARE ASKED TO DETERMINE WHAT IS FAIR COMPENSATION FOR THE BRAIN INJURY, PARALYSIS, BACK INJURY, OR EVEN WRONGFUL DEATH, THE DEFENDANT HAS INSURANCE.  INSURANCE IS PAYING ALL THE EXPENSES AND WILL PAY THE JUDGEMENT. This is also true in most medical malpractice cases, product liability cases, and construction injury cases.  In fact in almost every case where the jury is trying top determine fair compensation, there is insurance.  At Young and Young 55 years of trial experience tell us these things are true.  As accident and injury attorneys, we know these things from experience.

The fact that there is insurance will not influence the jury.  Hoosiers are smart.  They know the fair value of a serious injury from a car accident, highway accident, construction accident, medical malpractice, and other situations where a person is hurt.  They will compensate the injured person by paying him back for his medical bills, and lost wages .  They will provide him the money he would earn in the future, but cannot because of the injury.  They know that being alone, in pain and not able to do there regular activities has great value and will compensate the hurt person in a fair manner.

Jurors do not protect insurance companies.  They compensate hurt people fairly.  When you are a juror, know there is most likely insurance to pay the bills for the wrong done.

NOTICE: No face-to-face meeting needed. You can remain safely in your home from case signup to settlement.

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