Paying Medical Bills in Personal Injury Cases
One of the most common questions we encounter in personal injury cases is, “how are medical bills paid?” The answer is often more complex than one might expect, as it involves various legal principles and state-specific laws. If you are injured by someone through negligence or their behavior, and you need medical attention, you should make sure to use your health insurance coverage for the treatment. Whether you are dealing with doctors, hospitals, testing facilities, therapists, or other medical professionals, they all rely on and understand how to bill a health insurance company- they do not like to wait to be paid.
This blog addresses the issues that arise when a jury hears a case. They inevitably wonder about insurance payments and how the company is being reimbursed. It is natural but, at least in Georgia, it is not relevant to their valuation of the case because it is something that is dealt with after a verdict. (Some insurance companies are entitled to reimbursement, and some are not – but that is the topic for another discussion and is very fact specific to your policy and circumstances).
The Collateral Source Rule: A Comparative Look at Georgia and Alabama Laws
A key legal principle in these scenarios is the ‘collateral source’ rule. In Georgia, this rule prohibits the reduction of damages awarded in a personal injury lawsuit by any amount that has been compensated or indemnified from other sources, like insurance. In other words, having insurance does not lower the amount the responsible party must pay. In contrast, recent Alabama laws have modified the application of the collateral source rule. Damages can be reduced by amounts paid by collateral sources if the defendant can show the plaintiff did not incur liability or loss for the amount in question.
Understanding Subrogation and Reimbursement Agreements
After a case is settled or tried, subrogation and reimbursement agreements come into play. These allow insurance companies to recover medical expenses they have paid on your behalf from your settlement or judgment. It is crucial to understand the terms of your insurance policy as they may have substantial impacts on your net recovery.
The Jury’s Role: Valuing the Case
In a personal injury case the jury is tasked with putting a value on the case, including related medical bills, regardless of whether they are paid by someone else. The principle is that the responsible party should not benefit just because the injured party had the foresight to protect themselves and their family with insurance.
Georgia Law and Insurance: An Important Distinction
In Georgia, the law does not discount the value of a case for insurance. This is because the reimbursement of medical bills is a matter dealt with after a trial. It ensures the person responsible for the injury does not benefit from the victim’s prudence in having insurance.
Ensuring Fairness and Avoiding “Double Dipping”
At the conclusion of a trial, the jury will be expected to value a case regardless of insurance. The court takes care to prevent any irregularities or ‘double dipping’, i.e., the victim receiving multiple recoveries for the same damages.
See What Gary Says About Managing Medical Bills in a Personal Injury Case on Legal Break
Gary Bruce, a local personal injury attorney in Columbus, Georgia, discusses how to manage medical bills in a personal injury case in a recent episode of Legal Break on WTVM’s local news show. According to Gary Bruce, if you need medical attention due to someone else’s negligence, use your health insurance coverage, as providers do not like waiting to be paid. Gary Bruce’s insights shed light on the complexities of navigating the legal rules and principles surrounding medical bills in a personal injury case. This link will take you to the video: https://www.garybrucelaw.com/video/wtvm-legal-break-medical-bills/
Dealing with medical bills in a personal injury case involves navigating complex legal rules and principles. If you have questions about your case, how it is being handled, or your obligations to your health insurance carriers, please contact The Law Offices of Gary Bruce. We understand that every policy and case is different, and we are here to help you understand your unique situation.