Attorney Tricia Wang
First Class Service

Myths Busting That Could Help you After a car Crash PART II

© Law Office of Tricia Wang

If you just got into a car accident and seriously injured yourself, you would wish that you knew about these facts now, if not earlier. After you got hurt physically, the last thing you want is to get shortchanged for all the pain and suffering you have been through.

Myth #6: Use Employer provided ERISA health plan for medical treatments.

The Truth: ERISA is the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, which governs most employee health plans, especially large corporations’ employee health plans. Many ERISA plans rely on preemption principles to assert that they are under no obligation to reduce their lien claims, and that they are entitled to full reimbursement regardless of the circumstances of the case. ERISA liens can be difficult to negotiate, and that success in reducing the lien claims will depend greatly on the plan’s language. Circumstance as such that your NET recovery would be greatly reduced even if you had serious accident and the liable party’s insurance company provided you with a policy limit offer.

We will help you by looking at your employer sponsored health plan’s language and work through the reduction process persistently on your behalf.

Myth #7: Use Medi-Cal (the White Card) for medical treatments. Or my benefits will be terminated if I file claim and get compensated.

The Truth: Medi-Cal is a program that offers free or low-cost health coverage for low-income adults, families with children, seniors, etc. The fact is Medi-Cal gets huge discounts from medical providers and the bills paid Medi-Cal are always a fraction of its original hospital bills, usually ten percent or less. According to Howell, plaintiff’s recovery of medical damages is limited to the amount paid by the plaintiff’s health insurer and accepted by the health care provider as full payment. Thus, using Medi-Cal greatly limits the recovery that can be possibly achieved.

Also there are some elderly who worried about losing their benefits and gave up their claim right. Our advice is that you should always consult a lawyer first thing first to make an informed decision.

Myth #8: You have to use your health insurance for medical treatments if you have it.

The Truth: You don’t have to! The 'Pebley' Choice has reaffirmed that a plaintiff should have the choice to decide their own healthcare provider after suffering injuries caused by a negligent third party - “a tortfeasor cannot force a plaintiff to use his or her insurance to obtain medical treatment for injuries caused by the tortfeasor. That choice belongs to the plaintiff.” Of course, you must still show that all medical expenses are related to the injuries and are “reasonable and customary”.

Myth #9: I am very blessed that the hospital waived all the medical charges and I don’t have to pay the bills. Or I don’t have health insurance, and I don’t have money to get treated for my injuries or pains.

The Truth: Some public hospitals can waive the medical bills or greatly reduced the bills for low income people, or people with no health insurance. However, be mindful that this may compromise your personal injury claims from the liable party’s insurance companies.

Also, even if you don’t have health insurance, and you don’t have money to pay for doctors, please know that there are many medical professionals such as acupuncturists, chiropractors, and even surgeons, who can treat you on liens, i.e. you don’t have to pay out of pockets; instead, they will see you and treat you first and be paid later out of injury claim settlements achieved by we attorneys from insurance companies.

Myth #10: The more I treated with a doctor, the more money I will get from insurance company. Or, insurance company will pay for my injuries regardless of how much treatment I get.

The Truth: The above are two completely opposite views held by people. Insurance adjusters will look at all the factors such as the collision impacts, injuries sustained, your age, etc to evaluate and determine the required treatments and settlement offers. Excessive treatments will in fact hurt your claims.

On the other hand, if you sustained injuries but were slacking in getting necessary treatments, don’t expect you will get rewarded by insurance companies for saving them medical bills. We have seen many clients neglecting their own wellbeing after serious collisions, instead putting their work, family and one hundred house chores first, only to be disappointed when receiving their settlement offers.

Myth #11: The statute of limitation is 2 years, so there is no rush to retain an attorney.

Truth: It is true that the statute of limitation is two years, and your immediate focus following an accident should be getting proper medical attention and good rest. However, you will need to report to insurance company, and they will need to get relevant information from you and may need to take recorded statements from you. What you say to the insurance company may be used against you. There are things you say and do may hurt your case down the road. Therefore, it is a good idea to get legal representation from the beginning, then you will have peace of mind and give full attention to your physical recovery.

Myth #12: I don’t need a lawyer to get a fair settlement. Attorney costs too much.

The Truth: You are not legally required to hire an attorney for filing an insurance claim. Also, there are people who think they are smart and can handle the claims using all types of online self-help, but an attorney’s training and experience can help you build the strongest case and achieve a fair settlement.

Personal injury attorneys generally work on contingency fee basis, and charge no fee in case of no recovery, regardless of the reasons, for example, it may turn out that it was the client who ran the red light and therefore was liable for the damages.

Attorney’s contingency fee is generally one third of the gross settlement. However, even after deducting the attorney fee, our clients’ net recovery is usually higher than what he or she would have achieved, after all the medical bills are paid. Noted that health insurance and most medical payment coverage on automobile insurance policy have reimbursement right in case a third party is liable for your injuries. We help our clients in negotiating reduction on all the medical liens so that they get the max compensation possible.

If you were unfortunate to get into a car crash and suffered serious injuries, do not add more misery to yourself by trying to handle the claim all by yourself. With an experienced attorney on your side, you will have peace of mind that you get fairly compensated, and protected. WE ARE HERE FOR YOU. Call us at (510) 791-0232, or reach us by Wechat: TriciaWangLawOffice.