“Aren’t Lawyers Only for People Without Health Insurance?”
I have been asked this question many times. Many people believe that it is not necessary to call an attorney after they have been injured by someone else’s negligent or intentional act. The thought is – “I already have medical insurance so they will take care of my medical bills. So what else would be the benefit of hiring an attorney?”
Out of Pocket Expenses
One reason to hire an attorney following an injury even though the injured person has health insurance is that most victims are charged deductibles and co-pays that may stack up to a hefty sum. Many insurance policies have $6,000 – $15,000 deductibles. Furthermore, many health providers may be out of network on the injured person’s policy. Many auto accident victims for example require chiropractic therapy 3-5 days/week. If the injured person has a job, then therapy sessions can require treatment after work hours. There are great medical providers who treat during off-hours, but many insurance plans do not cover treatment from these providers because the providers may not be on the insurance’s medical provider list. So even though medical policies may cover many expenses, working with a knowledgeable attorney can help obtain recovery for these expenses or even have the liability insurance company pay the health provider directly.
Medical insurance policies rarely pay for time off work and lost wages. Usually the increase of premium for such coverage outweighs the likelihood of needing such coverage. Most insurance adjusters who represent an at-fault driver or liable party rarely will pay non-represented (pro se) claimants for lost wages. Certain procedures and presentations need to be submitted to the liable insurance company. A skilled personal injury attorneycan handle this process.
Pain and Suffering/Permanent Impairment
Another reason to hire an attorney following a wreck or injury is that an attorney experienced in injury law can seek compensation for pain and suffering and permanent impairment in many cases. If a person is injured to the extent that he or she has felt or continues to feel significant pain, this is where an attorney can be invaluable. Medical policies don’t compensate for pain and suffering. They only cover bills. A personal injury lawyer can present the case in a manner that will fairly and equitably address these issues. As pain cannot be quantified (there is no pain machine at the hospital to determine the amount of pain a person is in), a lawyer will submit a demand to the insurance company in a manner that will account for how this pain has affected the victim’s life. Insurance adjuster’s are highly skeptical of a claimant’s alleged pain and suffering and permanent impairment. Experienced legal counsel can relieve the adjuster’s suspicion and offer reasonable compensation.
Finally, I am aware many folks shun hiring an attorney because they believe the attorneys’ fees will eat up almost all of the settlement. If an injured person works with a reputable attorney who fights for victims, this concern is unjustified. Most personal injury victims are awarded 2-5 times the amount they were originally offered by the insurance company once an attorney steps in – even after expenses and attorneys’ fees are paid.