One of the oldest questions in personal injury cases is how do people get medical treatment without health insurance? A number of states have No-Fault laws or PIP coverage wherein the at fault parties insurance pays for your medical treatment. In effect, the car insurance acts like health insurance. NC is a liability state. This means that the car insurance doesn’t pay anything unless there is a settlement or judgment. As such, they don’t pay for the medical care of the at fault party.
With the changing law on health insurance via the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), the question of medical care will become easier to answer. For now however, people are confronted with the reality that they have been injured by someone else’s negligence and now they need medical care. What people are surprised to learn is the other person’s insurance company does not pay for your medical care as you treat. In my humble opinion many of the insurance commercials you see on TV flirt with being blatantly false advertising in that the insurance company is not dealing with the insured in as much as they are dealing with the injured party. The incentive of the insurance company is not to spend money as that hurts their bottom line. As such, people find themselves in a situation where they need treatment and they don’t know where to turn.
The good news is there are options. Our Charlotte personal injury lawyers work with doctors across NC. We work with primary care physicians, orthopedists, physical therapists, chiropractors and more. These medical providers will treat our clients without insurance or money upfront as a favor to our office. This allows our clients to get the best treatment available without insurance or upfront costs. The treatment isn’t free of course. These doctors will place a lien on your settlement, IE they will get paid out of your settlement.
This certainly raises the issue of financial responsibility. If you do not have health insurance you become financially responsible for the medical treatment you receive. If the case doesn’t settle you will remain responsible for the bills you incurred. This creates a catch 22. If you do not treat you wont get the medical care you need to get better. Further, if you fail to treat you undermine your claim value and reduce any possible settlement. On the up side you wont incur any medical bills and therefore wont have the risk of debt if you claim is unsuccessful. Alternatively, you can treat which means you get the medical care you need to get better and you bolster the underlying claim thereby potentially increasing the claim’s value. The risk is that you are incurring debt.
This obviously is a difficult decision to make. Certainly you want to do what is best for you, our personal injury attorney understands that. This is why it is so important to discuss your case with a personal injury attorney who understands all aspects of your case. Making the decision to treat, and incur debt, may make sense in one case and not the other. Our lawyers have the experience to tell you what risks you face with each decision. We have seen plenty of cases where people put off treating for an irrational fear of incurring debt, only to decide to treat much too late to reasonably include the treatment with the claim.
Insurance companies can be complicit with the delay in treatment. Many times they will claim they are “investigating” the car accident or other personal injury, even on the most clear cut cases. What they are doing is instilling doubt in the mind of the claimant which hopefully results in the them delaying treatment. Any delay, no matter how small has a negative effect on the value of the claim. An experienced attorney can speak with you and let you know whether your concern is warranted or not.
Many times clients want to see a chiropractor following a car accident. Chiropractors are very good about treating injured people following a car accident. Many times, these doctors will do so on a lien basis. There are good chiropractors and there are bad ones. This article is looking at the quality of the chiropractor from a legal standpoint, not a medical one. When our attorney discusses your choice of chiropractor we are doing so based on which doctor does the best job for the client at a reasonable cost. Many times “bad” doctors run up a bill, fully expecting their bill to be cut. Running up a bill might make sense for them financially but it makes no sense for the client. If a bill is unreasonably high it invites insurance companies to offer lesser amounts thereby forcing you to file a lawsuit. Putting an unreasonably high bill in front of a jury only invites the jury to get mad and take it out on the client.
Many times we are asked about the difference between chiropractic and physical therapy. Our response is to ask the client which they would prefer to see. Medically, there is some overlap and they do some of the same modalities. Physical therapists can have some more credibility in court but it is on a case by case basis. Again, seeing the wrong PT is worse than seeing the right chiropractor.
One of the best tools to diagnose your medical condition is a MRI. A MRI allows the doctor to get a clearer picture of your injury, thereby confirming your subjective complaints. Our attorneys work with companies that will fund your MRI in return for a lien on your settlement. The same calculus that goes into whether you should treat or not goes into whether you should get a MRI. If you take the position that your health is more important than anything else the decision is obvious.
If you have any questions about your medical treatment or wish to discuss your case please feel free to call and speak with one of our personal injury lawyers in Charlotte. We will discuss the best course of action for you following your car accident. There is no cost or obligation to speak with one of our attorneys.