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Personal Injury

Do I Have to Use Settlement Money to Pay My Medical Bills in Spokane Washington?

By February 8, 2022April 4th, 2024No Comments

If you were involved in a major car accident that resulted in serious injury, then you probably have mounting medical bills. 

There are several ways that you might pay off those bills, but things might get more confusing if there is legal action and a money settlement is negotiated with the offending driver. 

At The Gilbert Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping our Washington clients through every step of recovery after an accident.  This means working the case up and assisting you at all important stages of the process.

Paying Outstanding Medical Bills and Subrogation Liens in Washington?

If you are involved in a car crash and require medical care, you need to treat as your physicians recommend. Getting the proper care and following your treating medical providers’ directions is critical to your wellbeing and also important in any legal case born out of the crash. 

It doesn’t matter how the bills are paid as long as they get paid.  There are traditional ways that you could pay your medical bills after a car accident:

  • Your health insurance—if you have health insurance, then you can rely on your insurer to cover the expenses minus any out of pocket costs. If you are insured by Medicare or Medicaid, then they will make the payout.
  • Your auto insurance—if you have an auto insurance policy that covers your medical expenses, then they may pay off your bills. You may need medical pay or personal injury protection insurance for first-party insurance coverage if you were at fault for the accident.
  • Third party insurer—if the other driver was at fault, then their insurer may pay off your medical bills.

An important note: If an insurance company pays your medical bills, you may believe that those debts are resolved, but that is not the case. In the state of Washington, if an insurer pays medical bills resulting from some fault of another person and there is ultimately a settlement of claims arising from the crash, the insurance company automatically has a lien on any future proceeds related to the accident.

In other words, the insurer has a claim on any settlement or jury award. We call this a subrogation lien.

What Will I be Required to Pay my Insurance Company When There are Subrogation Liens?

It may come as a surprise that following a lengthy and expensive trial or settlement negotiation, your insurance company can swoop in and take a hefty cut. You may feel that your monthly premiums should pay for their coverage of your medical expenses, but the law is on their side.

A lien does not need to be formally drawn up or even discussed; when a health or auto insurer disburses funds to pay for expenses related to an auto accident, there is an implicit lien. 

When you think about it this makes sense.  It would not be fair if the insurance company paid for medical care, and then you got reimbursed for that same medical care in a settlement or through a judgment, and did not have to pay the insurance company back for covering your debt.  

Insurance companies, of course, want the full amount of all of the medical bills that they paid off. But in Washington they are not entitled to 100% reimbursement when a legal team, such as The Gilbert Law Firm, is representing your interests.  

IN most situations, the law in Washington requires the insurance company to take a reduction of a percentage matching the attorney fees withheld by your lawyer in the case. (typically ranging from 33% to 45%)​. 

The theory here is that the Insurance company got the benefit of your legal representation in the recovery of their liens, so it isn’t fair that you should shoulder all of the financial responsibility of recovering from the defendant.

Additionally, if you have not been made whole in the resolution of your claim; meaning you have not been adequately compensated to put you back in that place / condition you were in prior to the crash, you may be able to negotiate with a lien holder to lower the amount even further – in some instances to a zero balance.

The Gilbert Law Firm attorneys are professionals at dealing with insurance company lien issues.

Hire The Gilbert Law Firm for Help in Washington

If you have been involved in a car accident or other personal injury case that resulted in large medical expenses, then you need the services of one of Spokane’s leading personal injury law firms.

We are are here to help. 

We will listen to the details of your case, and attend to your needs. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Disclaimer: The blog published by the Gilbert Law Firm marketing team for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice or a substitute for legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship between the reader and the blog publisher. Readers are urged to consult their own legal counsel on any specific legal questions concerning a specific situation.

Lawyers who listen.

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