Do You Have to Pay Your Medical Bills from a Personal Injury Settlement?
Your attorney and the insurance company will both calculate the value of your claim following a negligence accident in which you are injured. As a part of this process, they will calculate the total amount of your past and future medical costs, your income losses, any reductions in the ability of you to earn income, and your non-economic damages. If your claim is settled, here is what might happen in Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Do you have to pay your medical bills from a personal injury settlement in Arkansas?
After you reach a personal injury settlement agreement, your medical insurer might file a subrogation lawsuit to recover money that the company paid for your medical bills from your settlement. However, insurance companies must comply with the made-whole doctrine before they can subrogate your personal injury settlement.
Under the made-whole doctrine, the Arkansas Supreme Court has found that an insurance company cannot subrogate a personal injury settlement when the medical bills are greater than the total amount recovered. Insurance companies may also not subrogate a personal injury settlement unless the plaintiff has been made whole. This means that he or she must have been fully compensated for his or her losses. To recover the medical bills the company paid on your behalf, you must have been made whole and have received more money than is needed for your losses. This means that before an insurance company can recover compensation for the medical expenses it paid for you, you first must have received enough money in a settlement to pay for all of your past and future expected medical costs, past and future wage losses, property losses, and pain and suffering losses. If your medical insurance company files a subrogation lawsuit, you will either have to agree that you have been made whole or the court will make the determination. In practice, this means that it is unlikely that your insurance company will try to subrogate your personal injury settlement.
Do you have to pay your medical bills out of a personal injury settlement in Oklahoma?
Oklahoma also follows the made-whole doctrine. In general, personal injury settlements cannot be subrogated by medical insurance companies unless the plaintiffs have been made whole, meaning that they must have recovered enough compensation to pay for all of their losses. After a settlement, an insurance company will have to make a proffer of evidence to show which damages are represented by the various settlement funds. Even when a plaintiff reaches a settlement in Oklahoma, that does not mean that he or she has been made whole.
However, an insurance company can avoid the made-whole doctrine in Oklahoma when it includes an express statement in its policy that an insured party does not have to be made whole before the insurance company can recover the money it has paid. The insurance company must show that it has a priority of payment in the contract it has with its insured. If there is no priority of payments provision contained in the insurance contract, a subrogation clause will otherwise be unenforceable unless a plaintiff has been made whole. This means that whether or not your medical insurance company can subrogate your personal injury settlement in Oklahoma will depend on the language of your policy and/or whether or not you are made whole through your settlement.
Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney
If you have sustained injuries in an accident caused by someone else, you should find an experienced attorney right away. Contact the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook today to request a free consultation by calling 479-783-8000 (Fort Smith), 479-455-2210 (Fayetteville), or 918-912-2132 (Tulsa) or sending us a message online.