By the time an injured person seeks an attorney, it is typically when the injured person cannot get the insurance company of the wrongdoer to pay for related medical treatment. Either the injured person has health insurance that has become too expensive with its co-pays, the injured person has no health insurance and has to make the choice between feeding his or her family or undergoing treatment, or the government-provided health insurance requires months between specialist visits that cause an injured person to lose or stall on any physical recovery made.
In all of these situations, if the insurance company for the person who caused the car wreck was to pay, the injured person could pay for the needed care or find an alternative doctor with less of a wait time. This situation rarely if ever happens. There are two ways that injured people may also seek care where the insurance company for the wrongdoer refuses to pay.
First, the injured person may find a doctor willing to hold off on being paid or collecting on a treatment bill in exchange for taking that money out of a settlement or judgment. This process is usually called a provider lien. The provider/medical professional chooses to take on the risk of not being paid immediately in exchange for the possibility of being paid more than what a health insurance company would agree to pay. If an injured person were to not settle a case and lose at trial, the full bill would still be owed by the injured person, but the provider would have lost substantial time in waiting for payment. Additionally, the provider would have to employ costly methods for the collection of the bill. There is an additional risk with seeking treatment this way because insurance defense attorneys will commonly accuse doctors of bias in their treatment as a result of these provider liens. The defense will argue to a jury the doctor only thinks the treatment is reasonable, necessary, and related to the car wreck simply because the doctor wants to be paid.
Second, a way to pay for needed treatment is through a medical lien finance company. Medical lien finance companies offer the ability to delay repayment, generally avoid interest on outstanding debts, and generally avoid collection attempts. A medical lien finance company will pay for an injured person’s medical bills in return for being allowed to have those bills paid out of any settlement or judgment. In this situation, the medical provider gets paid and avoids risk, and the medical lien finance company takes on the risk of not being paid immediately. If an injured person does not settle and loses at trial, the medical bills are still owed, but all of the same risks associated with a provider lien exist. This option to has risk in litigation. Insurance defense attorneys argue to juries that these medical lien finance companies are in a conspiracy with doctors and personal injury attorneys to increase medical bills and cause unnecessary treatment, all to increase a case value and take advantage of insurance companies.