One of the most difficult aspects of recovery from an extended illness or serious injury is the mounting hospital bills. If one’s poor medical condition was the result of another’s carelessness or negligence, these bills might be covered by the at-fault party’s insurer. When it comes to Florida personal injury litigation, medical bill reimbursement is often a key part of any case. It should be understood by plaintiffs, however, that whatever financial recovery you obtain in a settlement for prior medical expenses must usually be repaid to the health care provider, hospital, or insurer that initially covered them. Those entities will often argue that they have a “lien” on your personal injury settlement or verdict. These bills or liens can quickly become complicated matters, resulting in a great hassle – and a potentially much smaller sum of money in your pocket – if you don’t deal with them promptly and properly. As a Fort Myers injury lawyer, I’m familiar with the nebulous tactics used by both insurers and providers in these situations, as well as the ever-shifting policy and precedent. At the time of publishing the Florida Supreme Court has recently invalidated the Lee Memorial Hospital Lien law.
When you bring forth an injury lawsuit, your attorney has an ethical obligation to put forth reasonable effort to resolve any disputes between you (the client) and any third-party lienholders (most commonly hospitals, insurers, and health care providers). Where disputes can’t be resolved, we may recommend depositing the disputed funds into the court registry while the case continues. Sometimes, these situations drag on long enough to prompt litigation over unfair/deceptive billing practices, unfair debt collection practices, overcharging, etc. Such action, however, should be a last resort. Ideally, you’re working with a competent civil injury lawyer who will help you resolve these outstanding claims as soon as possible so you can move on with your life. It’s one of the reasons we strongly urge potential clients to hire injury lawyers with proven experience in this particular field of law, rather than jack-of-all-trade law offices.
Disputing Unreasonable Hospital Bills
The issue of unreasonable medical billing has become an increasingly relevant issue in Florida and across the country. It’s gotten so bad that some individuals and families actively seek care in foreign countries. However, that isn’t a realistic option for most folks.
Hospital charges often have little connection to the actual internal costs of services – or even the amounts they typically negotiate with insurers. In most cases, even when patients are asked to pay the bills in full as charged, it goes unpaid. However, plaintiffs injured in third-party liability situations are among those that may get charged the full amount of the care they receive.
What works in the favor of my Fort Myers injury lawyer clients is the fact that patients are allowed to challenge hospital charges that are unreasonable. Continue reading