It is often the little things that make a big difference in a personal injury case. When you go to any doctor’s office, one of their first questions will be “Do you have medical insurance for your personal injury accident?”
If you have been referred to a doctor or chiropractor by a personal injury attorney, that doctor or chiropractor has agreed in advance to accept your case on a lien basis. That means that the medical provider will be paid out of your personal injury settlement and by signing that personal injury lien, you and your personal injury lawyer have guaranteed payment to the doctor when your personal injury case is resolved.
Accident victims and their personal injury lawyers must wait for their settlement, award or judgment before receiving financial compensation from insurance companies. So should the medical provider but that is not always the case, even though the medical provider has agreed to provide medical or chiropractic services on a personal injury lien.
It is human nature to prefer being paid sooner rather than later. Many medical/chiropractic offices will ask the personal injury patient to sign an assignment of benefits. That document authorizes the medical provider to bill and collect their charges long before the personal injury case is resolved. That is good for the doctor but is not usually good for the injury accident victim. Never sign an assignment of medical benefits without first talking to your personal injury attorney.
Allowing the medical provider to be paid before your accident case is settled, arbitrated or tried may prevent your personal injury lawyer from negotiating the best discount of the medical expenses. Doctors are not likely to offer any discounts or refunds on your personal injury charges after receiving payment from an insurance company, regardless of the amount of compensation the personal injury patient actually receives. The result can be less net compensation for the personal injury accident victim but a larger payment for the doctor or chiropractor.
Personal injury attorneys usually want the accident victim’s medical bills to be unpaid prior to settlement discussions so that doctor discounts can be effectively negotiated for their personal injury clients, although there may be exceptions with hospital bills or other unique personal injury situations where expensive medical procedures are involved. Be certain to talk to your personal injury lawyer before signing any document that authorizes your insurance company to pay anyone other than yourself for your personal injury medical bills or expenses.