An important aspect of dealing with a personal injury claim and maximizing the client's financial recovery lies in negotiating and resolving medical debts. Often, people who suffer personal injury due to the negligence of another do not have insurance. Other times, an injured person may have insurance but that insurance has a large deductible or insufficient coverage. Either way, the injured person may face significant medical bills and meetings long before he or she receives any compensation for his or her injuries.
This trial can be overwhelming, especially without the assistance of a personal injury lawyer. In addition to treating the pain and suffering the injury itself, the plaintiffs may face lost wages as well as rising medical bills. The reality is that healthcare providers want to get paid and not be sympathetic to the injury of the injured person. In fact, providers will often hire a collection company to recover their bills within months of handling (which, of course, can affect one's credit). Moreover, some providers, usually chiropractors, will even go so far as to ask the patient to sign a document that intends to transfer to the provider the right to receive funds from a future personal injury recovery.
In Missouri, an assignment of a personal injury claim is invalid. According to the latest case of Huey v. Gary Meek, dba Meek Chiropractic (Mo. App. S.D. 2013) the appeals court stated that a chiropractor's "consensual debt" was invalid because it violated Missouri's public policy against assigning personal injury claims. Therefore, without the assistance of a personal injury lawyer who knows the law, injured persons may not pay their bills.
Further, Missouri has a health care debt statute, which is Section 430.225 of the Missouri Revised Statute. Pursuant to this statute, if the debts of such physicians, hospitals, clinics, or other institutions exceed fifty percent of the amount due to the patient, any healthcare practitioner, hospital, clinic, or other institution that reports its burden shall allocate up to fifty percent of the net proceeds are due to the patient, in proportion to each claim holding the total amount of all other healthcare practitioners, hospitals, clinics, or other institutions. "Net Income", as used in this section, means the amount remaining after the contracting attorney's fees have been paid, if any, and other recovery costs.
What this means is that the injured party will not have to pay more than fifty percent of the net proceeds for a claim (and that all providers are only entitled to their pro-rate portion of total invoices). For example, he assumes that an injured party hires a personal injury lawyer for a 1/3 fee and he wants to settle his claim for Fifteen thousand dollars ($ 15,000.00), but has medical bills totaling ten thousand dollars ($ 10,000.00). Assuming this scenario, assuming there is no cost, the medical provider is entitled to receive only five thousand dollars ($ 5,000.00). This situation results in 1/3 for the lawyer, 1/3 for the provider and 1/3 for the injured client. Therefore, without this statute, injured parties would often receive zero recovery.