Medical bills and other expenses can make legal claimsexponentially more complicated. Handling any legal matter can be complex but there are certain areas individuals and attorneys should give careful consideration.
Our New York City car accident attorneys know that hospital liens and other medical expenses can add complexity to the task of any personal injury or car accident claim. A recent case illustrated the difficulties present in some cases very effectively. The case concerned non-payment of hospital liens by an insurance company. The case started in a way common to many car accident litigation cases.
Initially an individual was involved in a motor vehicle collision. Following the collision the individual received medical treatment at various hospitals for injuries incurred as a result of the accident.
The hospitals (there were three) who treated the injured individual each placed a lien potential settlements for the cost of the medical care received. The total amount of the liens was about $67,000. Meanwhile, the injured individual filed a lawsuit against a large insurance company that insured the driver responsible for the accident. After considering the case the insurance company agreed to offer a the policy limit for the injuries incurred. The policy limit was $100,000.
The settlement offer also contained a clause stating that the hospital liens must be satisfied out of the $100,000, this means the plaintiff would be left with about $23,000 as a recovery. It seems the injured individual was not aware of this stipulation because the agreement was signed and the hospital liens never paid.
As a result of the unpaid liens the hospitals filed suit against the insurance company, initially, a lower court barred this claim because it had been filed beyond the one-year statute of limitations for these types of claims in the particular jurisdiction.
However, on appeal the state’s supreme court reversed the lower court’s decision and decided that the appeals court had improperly begun enforcing the statute of limitations too early.
The lower court held that initial conversations held about settlement but before the finalized settlement, counted for purposes of “beginning the clock” for the statute of limitations. This meant the statute of limitations began and ended at an earlier date.
The state supreme court disagreed and held that the statute of limitations did not bar the action because the clock cannot start until a finalized agreement is reached (if one is, in fact reached).
It is important to note that the situation recited here relates to a very specific set of facts and a particular jurisdiction. The statutes and common law vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and the facts of every case are unique.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
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