If you’ve been injured in a car accident, a slip and fall on someone else’s property, or in some other way harmed by somebody else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. For many injury victims, that compensation is critical to:
- Pay for necessary medical care, physical therapy, and assistance during recovery–or, in the case of a permanent injury, in the long term
- Make up for lost income during your recovery, or long-term lost earnings, so you can continue to pay living expenses
- Repair or replace property, such as a vehicle damaged or destroyed in the accident
In other words, there’s a lot riding on your personal injury case. So, it’s important to understand exactly what’s at stake, what can derail your case, and what your options are if you lose your case.
Unsuccessful Personal Injury Claims
You generally get just one shot at holding the person or entity that caused your injury responsible. If you lose that case, you’ll have to find other ways to cover your medical expenses, make up for lost income, repair your vehicle, and cover other injury-related expenses.
This can be a challenge for anyone who was injured and accumulated medical bills or experienced a significant gap in income. That’s especially true if the injuries are long-term or permanent, meaning that future income capacity is impaired.
Who Pays for Medical Bills if You Lose Your Personal Injury Case?
Your doctors and other healthcare professionals and facilities are providing services directly to you, which means you are ultimately responsible for those bills. In a personal injury lawsuit, you ask the court to order the responsible party to pay those bills, and to compensate you for other damages. Usually, it’s the responsible party’s insurance carrier that actually makes those payments.
If a court determines the other party isn’t legally responsible for your injury, they won’t be ordered to pay those bills. But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re stuck with the full balance.
Ideally, some or all of these costs will be covered by other insurance.
MedPay may cover some of your medical expenses. MedPay covers medical costs for you and your passengers regardless of who was at fault in the accident. The catch is that MedPay covers expenses only up to the total amount specified in your policy. And, Ohio auto insurance law doesn’t make MedPay mandatory, which means whether and how much coverage you have depends on the choices you made when you purchased your insurance policy.
If you don’t have MedPay coverage, you should seriously consider adding it to your insurance policy right away. Though it won’t help you with an accident that’s already occurred, it does provide a safety net for the future at a relatively low cost.
Your Medical Insurance
Your medical insurance provider should have been paying their regular share of your medical bills throughout your treatment. Typically, when you’ve been injured in an accident where a third party may be liable, your health insurance company will ask you for information about other possible responsible parties. But, they should not hold off on making payment to your medical providers.
Under Ohio law, your medical insurance carrier has a right of subrogation, meaning that if they pay medical bills and you receive a settlement or award of damages that covers those medical bills, they’re entitled to recoup what they’ve paid. If the third party is found not liable, then there’s no recoupment–the medical insurance provider should have made payment as the expenses were incurred, and you aren’t responsible for paying them back.
However, with most medical insurance policies, you’ll be responsible for partial payment. In some cases, that’s a flat-rate co-pay for a certain type of service. In others, it’s a percentage of the total cost. Depending on the type of insurance you carry, the amount you’re responsible for may depend on whether or not the medical provider is in network. In other words, your medical insurer will likely pay some–even most–but not all of your medical bills.
Depending on your financial circumstances, the amount of your medical bills, the type of medical provider, and other variables, the healthcare facility may be willing to write off some or all of the post-insurance balance. So, if you lose your personal injury case and you have a significant post-insurance balance, be sure to reach out to your medical providers to find out whether they can offer assistance.
Replacement Income if You Lose Your Personal Injury Case
If you’ve been out of work for a significant time while recovering from your injury, or if you have permanent disabilities from the injury, losing a personal injury case can be a serious blow. You may have been counting on that compensation to fill a significant gap in income, or to provide for living expenses moving forward.
Some possible options for replacement income include:
- Short-term disability: Like MedPay, short-term disability insurance is something you may or may not have, depending on your employer and on the choices you made. If you have an employer-provided short-term disability policy or purchased one on your own, it may provide partial replacement income for you during your recovery. If you do have this type of coverage, you will likely already have applied for and received benefits by the time your personal injury case wraps up. As with your medical insurance carrier, your short-term disability insurance carrier may have a subrogation claim if you receive lost wages from the responsible party. But, if you lose your case, there’s no such claim.
- Long-term disability: Works much like short-term disability, except that the benefits last longer and the percentage of pre-disability income you receive may be different.
- Social Security disability: Someone who is disabled as the result of a car accident or other injury and is unable to return to work may be eligible for Social Security disability (SSDI). SSDI eligibility is independent of any other compensation or disability insurance that may be available.
Securing disability benefits–private or Social Security–can be its own challenge. Most SSDI claims are initially denied. So, securing these benefits may take time, and may require the assistance of a disability attorney.
Protecting Your Personal Injury Claim
This post explains some of the most common options for getting your medical bills paid and securing income if you lose your Ohio personal injury case. But, of course, the goal is to ensure that you give yourself every opportunity to win your case, and to secure the compensation you deserve. Here are some steps you can take to improve your chances of prevailing in your personal injury case:
- Seek medical assessment right away after your injury and then be sure to follow your doctors’ advice
- Document what you can, including photos of the accident scene if you’re able, notations on your pain and limitations you face, and records of any expenses related to your injuries such as equipment you purchase or extra help you need to hire
- Say little about your accident, particularly in social media–innocent statements can be taken out of context and used against you later
- Don’t let too much time pass before you begin building your claim, as it may be more difficult to assemble evidence and get witness accounts as time passes
- Choose your Ohio personal injury attorney carefully, since your attorney’s knowledge, experience, and access to efforts may impact the outcome of your case
At Dyer, Garofalo, Mann & Schultz L.P.A., we’ve been fighting for Ohio injury victims for more than 30 years. To learn more about how we may be able to help you, schedule a free, no-obligation consultation right now. Call 937-222-2222 right now, or click in the bottom right-hand corner of this page to chat.
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