Articles Tagged with medical bills

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16687020074_db03aa8ce2_z-300x171Alabama has a significant problem with uninsured drivers. At our firm, we help families suffering because of a personal injury. Car accidents and commercial truck crashes cause many of the injuries we see. Imagine suffering a severe injury only to learn the responsible person has no insurance to help with your damages. That is the scenario many hurt individuals face. Too often, negligent drivers causing injuries on our highways are uninsured. That’s why our firm has long advocated that you purchase sufficient uninsured / underinsured motorist coverage to protect yourself and your family.

Want to know more about why you need sufficient uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage? You can read an article we wrote earlier this year titled Alabama Drivers Need Uninsured Motorist Coverage. You need adequate uninsured/underinsured coverage (also frequently called UIM coverage) to protect your family against both uninsured and underinsured drivers. Too many insured drivers carry the minimum amount possible which is unlikely to compensate you fully for any serious injury.

How bad is the problem of uninsured drivers in Alabama? The Insurance Information Institute has compiled some startling statistics. According to their statistics, Alabama ranks in the top 10 for the most uninsured drivers on the road. That’s certainly not a good category in which to rank within the top 10. In 2015, approximately 18.4% of the drivers in Alabama were uninsured. That’s a huge percentage of people driving cars all around you each day.

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Drawing from Beinecke Library (License link: CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Insurance Journal recently reported the story of a client solicitation and kickback scheme involving several Florida attorneys. The arrested Florida attorneys were charged with paying solicitors for clients and then arranging kickbacks from medical providers. It’s an awful scheme that harms people who are genuinely hurt and need counsel. And, it’s a black eye to both the legal and medical professions.

Every day, I hear the stories of people who are genuinely hurt and need help. Injured people already face struggles — problems with medical care, sudden expenses, potential job loss, the loss of their vehicle, and sometimes, long-term pain or disability. It’s a big list of real worries. Injured people already face an uphill battle against insurance companies who sow the seeds of false doubt at every stage.

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Blackwell Law Firm
You were hurt on the job. You received workers’ compensation benefits. But, a third-party (someone outside your work) caused the accident. You want to pursue a personal injury claim against that third-party.

The workers’ compensation carrier has a lien against your personal injury case. Under Alabama law, your employer (and its insurance carrier) have certain rights to get their money back if you win your personal injury case. At our firm, we routinely represent clients in both workers’ compensation and other personal injury cases. We understand how these areas of the law interact.

What happens when your employer or its insurance carrier file a lien against the third-party negligence case? The issues can be complicated. How you (or your lawyer) handle these issues can tremendously impact your bottom line. I could discuss these issues in significant detail. But, here are four quick tips to consider when handling this type of case:

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A car crashes into you. You suffer personal injuries. You suddenly face problems with medical bills, pain or wage losses. Then, you discover another problem. The at-fault driver has too little or no insurance for your damages. This problem is not rare. It happens more than you think. Many drivers do not have the insurance necessary to cover the harm their negligent driving may cause.

Alabama law requires every driver to have liability insurance. But, the law requires only small limits of coverage. Some drivers choose to ignore the law and drive without coverage. Other drivers purchase only the bare minimum amount. That amount is far less than needed to cover the damages for anyone with a significant personal injury. Many injury victims have medical bills that exceed the minimum liability coverage limits required by law.

I wrote a series of articles in prior years discussing Alabama’s problem with uninsured drivers. These articles also detail efforts by Alabama officials to create a system of insurance verification – a system that would catch drivers who choose to ignore the law and put the rest of us in danger. When I wrote my first article on the topic in 2011, officials estimated up to 25% of Alabama’s drivers did not currently possess insurance coverage. In 2016, Governor Bentley announced the rate of uninsured drivers had dropped significantly. Yet, it still remains too high. You can read some of my prior articles at my other blog, The Alabama Litigation Review.

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I’ve written on several occasions about Alabama’s unique wrongful death law. Wrongful death claims in Alabama are very different. Chief among the issues that make Alabama wrongful death law different — only punitive damages are recoverable. You cannot recover compensatory damages for actual losses like medical costs.

Many lawyers advertise for wrongful death claims. Yet, they fail to understand fully the impact of Alabama’s unique law. And, this lack of understanding can have a tremendously negative impact on the overall recovery for clients.

An attorney’s entire preparation and trial strategy should be designed for the unique damages recoverable in Alabama. Yet, many attorneys prepare these cases as all other cases. That’s a mistake. It is short-sighted and costly for clients.

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I recently published a post discussing the scene of a Las Vegas convention for industry insiders managing workers’ compensation medical benefits. My post is titled — An Industry Built Upon Suffering. It is a true statement — an entire industry of managers has been built upon the misery and suffering of injured workers simply seeking medical care. That’s wrong.

Workers’ compensation benefits in Alabama were created to provide injured workers with medical care. Most injured workers need and desire this care quickly so they can heal and return to work. Instead, we now have an entire industry of benefit managers who work to complicate, delay and deny the needed relationship between an injured employee and his/her doctor trying to help.

Contrast the lavish Las Vegas party of insurance insiders against the typical injured employee. The insiders enjoy excess. Yet, injured employees are often left untreated and unable to provide for their families. While away in Las Vegas, those insiders are receiving messages at their offices from injured workers begging for medical treatment. I hear from injured workers daily who call and call the adjusters asking for care without response.

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We’ve all seen the advertisements. We’ve all heard the catchy jingles. The ads promise lots of money, quick settlements, huge recoveries or fast checks. Yet, the results often leave clients without justice and without full recovery. While promises are made to get the cases, most of these lawyers fail to help their clients to the fullest.

I’ve written about personal injury and workers’ compensation settlement mills previously. Good attorneys rarely make promises of huge settlements or quick recoveries. That’s because good attorneys know the best results come with hard work, preparation and a constant study of trial practices. And, unlike most television attorneys, good lawyers have actually seen the inside of a courtroom. If you are seeking legal counsel after suffering an injury, you should always ask potential attorneys whether they have actually tried (and will try) a case. The insurance companies know which lawyers will go to trial. It can make a big difference for your recovery.

Settlement mills are interested in case volumes. They are not interested in individual justice. They are certainly not interested in fighting to get you maximum compensation. Over the years, I’ve received many phone calls from individuals who hired a settlement mill attorney and were left without justice. What are some of the ways volume settlement mill attorneys fail their injured clients?

  • They do not advise their clients concerning proper medical treatment.
  • They do not warn their clients against signing insurance company releases or giving interviews to insurance adjusters. Sometimes, these settlement mill attorneys even agree to insurance company requests just to get a quick (even if too low) settlement.
  • They do not defend clients against false denials of claims by insurance companies.
  • They do not research or investigate difficult injuries suffered by clients.
  • They do not aggressively represent clients.
  • They do not file cases or take cases to trial when settlement offers are unfair.
  • They do not advise or help clients with often complex issues of health insurance subrogation or reimbursement after case settlement. Good attorneys can often save clients tremendous amounts of money by helping with these issues. Yet, settlement mill attorneys often pay the full claims from the settlement proceeds without advocating for their clients.

Justice is always personal. Settlement mills that treat people as parts on an assembly line leave us all short of justice. If you have suffered a significant injury, you and your family deserve better. Continue reading →