When you negotiate your medical bills, I call it working both sides of the equation with respect to your case. We will make sure to gather together all of your medical bills that you have incurred as a result of the accident and get them submitted to the appropriate insurance companies to get them paid pursuant to those insurance policies. Then when the case is resolved, if you have medical bills outstanding, we will often negotiate down those medical bills that are outstanding with the healthcare providers, because sometimes the healthcare providers will charge an individual who has exhausted their health insurance or exhausted their no-fault medical insurance for the outstanding balances. So, on the one hand, if you have a lot of medical bills, that is good for your case value, but on the other hand, if you have a lot of outstanding medical bills, that will create economic stress on you. We want paid bills to be high, but outstanding bills to be low, thus the two step process of working them high and low.
Sometimes those medical bills will be far more in dollar amount than they would have been if you had had insurance to cover the medical procedure. The reason for that is the healthcare providers have different rates for their medical services depending upon whether those services are going to be paid by health insurance or they are going to be paid by an individual, and if they are going to be paid by an individual, those rates are often far higher than if they are being paid by an insurance company. So we help folks understand that, and we have helped folks negotiate those bills down and try to minimize what medical bills they are going to have to pay out of their own pocket at the end of the case.
The biggest challenges are probably the misinformation that they get from the insurance industry and the misinformation they get from what they have seen on TV from some advertising lawyers. They do not understand why the insurance industry tells them what they are telling them, about giving a recorded statement, about not getting a lawyer and about how the case is supposed to be evaluated. The misinformation that they get from some lawyers who are advertising, such as, “it is a quick and easy process”. Many people do not understand that there are multiple layers to this process, such as what I have just talked about, as far as payment of outstanding medical bills, different insurance companies having to pay the medical bills initially and dealing with liens in a case and so forth.
How you structure a settlement so that as much money as possible ends up in your client’s pocket is the most important process you should understand. The misinformation that is out there about that, including the fact that many people think that there is a lot of money in every case to be had, and that is just not the case. There is money to be had for folks to help them, but there is not always a lot of money in every case. Many do not understand that sometimes there are limits of insurance proceeds available and if they do not act quickly, they might not get their fair share of those limits. It is the misinformation fed to many by the insurance company and some TV lawyers that is the biggest impediment to an injury victim receiving the most that they are entitled to receive in the resolution of a personal injury claim.
At the quickest, it probably takes four to six months to conclude a personal injury claim. That would be a very simple, smaller valued claim. For the larger valued claims, it could be anywhere from a year and a half to two and a half years to resolve that claim. Now, a lot of that timeline has everything to do with the nature of the injury that a person suffered in the incident and their healing time. If you try to settle a claim for a person before the individual has healed, then you do not really know whether or not all of their injuries are going to heal and they are going to be one hundred percent or if some of the injuries will linger and cause significant physical, emotional and economic damage to the individual for the rest of their life.
There is no way to know when a person walks in your office whether or not, for certainty, that person is going to have an injury that will last the rest of their life or something that will only last a few months. There are some exceptions to that, of course, such as paralysis, where a doctor has indicated that this paralysis is going to be a permanent condition or an amputation. However, I would challenge folks even in those situations to the fact that there are some modern medical miracles that are occurring where folks are starting to get more recovery from a paralysis and better functioning recovery from a paralysis than they used to be able to get.
There are amazing prosthetic devices that are coming online that are far superior to the old prosthetic devices. However, you are not going to know about these things, these advances in medicine and the latest and greatest unless research is done and you have good quality medical care. And that is part of our job, getting people to steer people away from the healthcare providers that are just trying to put band-aids on significant injuries and steer them in the direction of good quality medical care. We recommend doctors in our community that are good quality healthcare providers that have been recommended by a lot of the physicians in the community and we have that information through our experience in this area.
We know who the better quality physicians are that you should go to and the poorer ones that you should stay away from. But when you have a significant injury, like a paralysis or an amputation or a serious back injury, there are some very important factors that have to be looked at by an experienced lawyer in setting the bar, so to speak, on the case, as high as possible to include the possibility of future medical care down the road. There could be some very expensive, but very beneficial rehab that is being developed as we speak to improve a person with, say, a paralysis, it could improve their position in life. So we always try to work with folks to get them pushed into the best facilities in the country.
For example, there is a top-notch facility in Denver for paralysis victims that many people come from all over the United States to use to try to improve their injuries, whether that would be from a collision incident or from whatever cause, they go to the Craig Institute in Denver, Colorado to try to improve their medical condition. If you have the right lawyer that knows this information and knows how to steer you through the medical process, then, in the long run, you are going to be far better off.