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Despite Appeal, Woman Collects all Medical Bills Awarded by Jury


A California woman without medical insurance got treatment and back surgery by agreeing to pay her doctors from proceeds from an anticipated lawsuit. (Wikimedia photo/Dirk69CS)

If you’re injured in a car accident because of another party’s negligence but you don’t have medical insurance to cover your bills, there is a way to get treatment and still pay the doctor and hospital.

You can offer your medical providers to place a lien on any future monetary awards you collect from a defendant if you sue them over the accident. Then, if and when you do collect, the medical providers take what you owe them from the monetary damages you are awarded by the judge or jury.

Krasney Law can Negotiate lower medical Bills

The medical malpractice attorneys of Krasney Law in SoCal can help you by negotiating a lien with hospitals and medical providers to reduce the amount you owe from settlement or jury award.

Just such a case lien came up this summer in the California Court of Appeal. This case was a bit more complicated than some accident cases, but it is a good illustration of how those who are injured because of another person’s careless or reckless driving still can get treated. It is also a good case to illustrate why people need the help of an attorney when they are injured in an accident.

A note of caution: In this case, the plaintiff got the treatment she needed for her back injury by agreeing to fully repay all of her expenses “regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit,” according to the appeal papers, which you can read here.

So there is some risk that if you make such an agreement with medical providers and lose any lawsuit you file, you may have to repay them out of your own pocket. It all depends on how your agreement with the medical providers is worded. But if you are seriously injured and need treatment, the matter of primary importance is getting healthy again.

How the Lawsuit Came About

The background on the case in question is that defendant Clare Meline’s vehicle collided with plaintiff Anna Uspenskaya’s vehicle at a busy intersection in Northern California. Ms. Uspenskaya sustained a back injury and needed surgery to repair a herniated lumbar disc in her spine.

Ms. Uspenskaya sued Meline and collected the $261,000 she owed in medical expenses plus an additional $169,000 in other damages for a total of $430,000 upon a jury award at trial.

Ms. Meline, the defendant who lost the court case, appealed the verdict. Ms. Meline’s attorneys argued in their appeal that they should have been allowed to tell the jury that Ms. Uspenskaya’s hospital and doctor sold the lien to a third party at a discount. The judge had told Ms. Meline’s attorneys they could not present evidence to the jury about the company’s purchase of the lien or how much it paid the medical providers.

Ms. Meline’s attorneys argued to the appeals court that the trial judge should have let her tell the jury how much the company paid to Ms. Uspenskaya’s medical providers “as evidence of the reasonable cost of treatment provided plaintiff.” The Court of Appeal ruled that because the defendant (Ms.Meline) didn’t show that the payments reflected the value of the medical treatments, the evidence would create a danger of undue prejudice and might confuse and mislead the jury.

Apparently the court thought the jury might not fully understand and might conclude that Ms. Uspenskaya should get less money than what her treatments actually cost. Ms. Uspenskaya showed the jury bills that reflected the $260,000 in medical expenses she incurred. And she actually had to pay back that much. The fact that her medical providers sold her lien at a discount did not lessen the money Ms. Uspenskaya owed.

Getting the Full Amount

The Court of Appeals based its ruling in part on another case. The appeals court said in the earlier case that when a third-party company purchases a medical lien, that does not prevent a plaintiff from recovering the full amount billed by the medical provider as long as the expenses are legitimate and the plaintiff is still liable to pay the bills.

Ms. Uspenskaya actually did incur medical damages of $261,000, and she did owe that much money whether the doctor and hospital sold the lien or not.

You can see how complex the law is just for this one lawsuit. And every case is different, and the complexities in some car and automobile accidents can be even greater. A case like this really required an attorney.

If You’re in an Accident

Whether you have a straightforward case or a complex one, it can’t hurt to talk to an attorney for a free consultation. A good attorney and Law Firm like the ones at Krasney Law can get you more compensation than if you go it alone by settling with an auto insurer—even after we take a contingency fee. Don’t forget, if there is no recovery, then there is no fee. We are in it with you!

Krasney Law firm attorneys in SoCal are experts in personal injury and auto accident law. We can help you deal with insurance companies anywhere in California so you get the maximum compensation in your settlement. Or we can help you file a lawsuit or other legal action if you have catastrophic injuries or if the insurance company is treating you unfairly or trying to under-pay your claim. And, as we stated, we can help negotiate your medical bills down if you get a lien to pay the Ambulance, Hospital, Doctor or other medical providers.

Contact your Southern California auto-accident attorneys at Krasney Law(909) 380-7200. We will charge you nothing for your consultation, and we will arrange payment on a contingency basis only if we get you money. That is, we don’t get paid unless you get paid by either accepting a fair settlement for your injuries or we go to trial and fight for you!

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