WHOA…Stop Right There!
You have just been rear ended by a distracted driver. Your injuries are typical with this type of wreck and you seek medical attention. Fast forward a few days, you start to get phone calls from the at-fault driver’s insurance company offering you a check. You just need to sign a release. What do you do? Take the money? The offer is pretty good and the holidays are just right around the corner… Attorney Henry Queener recently took on a seemingly simple case that went downhill fairly quickly. In the beginning, the client felt competent enough to deal with the insurance company on her own. This is a common mistake that we see quite often at Queener Law. Below is just one example of how “representing” yourself can go wrong.
Case in Point:
“We recently had a very nice lady call our office for help. She was concerned because the deadline for filing paperwork in the courthouse, also known as a statute of limitations, was only one month away. A heating and air-conditioning company truck had rear ended her at a stoplight. This particular business’s insurance company was offering her $25,000 and was really starting to hound her with phone calls, begging her to take the check. She was starting to feel uneasy. She finally called us wanting to know what her case was worth. Should she just take the $25,000 or hire an attorney? I explained to her that first and foremost, we needed to know the total of all the medical services she has received. She did not know, but she had a guess.
I then asked her who had been paying for the medical care she had been receiving. She told me that the at-fault driver‘s insurance company had used $5000 they had available for medical payments and then her own auto insurance volunteered to use $5000. After that Tricare, which is health insurance for those who have been in the military, and Medicare started paying for her medical care. Boy, was she surprised by what I told her next. I explained that she would have to open an account with both Tricare and Medicare to find out exactly how much they had paid out. By accepting the settlement money from the heating and air-conditioning‘s insurance company (you know, the quick check) she would automatically become obligated to pay Tricare and Medicare back. (Most likely this would eat up the initial offer of $25,000. What about future medical costs, loss of earnings, pain and suffering?)
She then had a dawning of realization. She had been getting letters from Medicare asking about the status of her settlement and did not really understand why she was getting them. Now she understood and it was so clear to her! Medicare was asking about the status of her settlement because Medicare was expecting payment out of her settlement. I then told her the news is worse than that. Her own auto insurance company did not do her any favors by using its $5000 for medical payments. Under Tennessee law, she has to pay them back too. She would’ve been better off if her auto insurance had never paid anything at all! She began to realize that she should have hired an attorney earlier in the process. AND, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are several other things that have occurred in her case that are not helpful.
Unfortunately, insurance companies ARE NOT obligated to work together for your best outcome. Furthermore, many insurance agents and insurance adjusters often have a very poor understanding of insurance law and even their own insurance policies. She has now hired us. We are diligently working for our client, so that when her case is settled, it will be her money free and clear.” If you are ever faced with the aftermath of an accident, DO NOT attempt to deal with an insurance company alone. Your job is to focus on your recovery, our job is to deal with the insurance companies. Let Queener Law work for you. Contact us for a free case evaluation.
Brain Injury Survivors: Leaving Victim Hood Behind
Over the years, Queener Law has been trusted to work with brain injury survivors across the country. The Queener Law family has our own personal experience with brain injuries, and we have felt our own great losses and fought through our own great survivals. We understand what it means to have your life forever changed in an instant by a head injury. We also know what it means to feel like no one understands. For brain injury survivors who are suffering because of the negligence caused by someone else there are two major phases of understanding beyond the hurdle that all head trauma survivors face – relearning your life with your family and friends. For victims of negligence, you also have to compete with the medical treatment phase and the litigation phase.
Phase 1: Medical Treatment Phase
You know your body better than anyone. Even doctors. Doctors may have a list of letters after their names, and they may be at the top of their fields. But unless they are specifically trained and experienced in working with brain trauma, no matter how hard they try, they just won’t get it. They can run every test in the world, prescribe every anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication, send you to therapist after therapist, or tell you to get more rest. And all of those things may take the edge off. But does that make you feel like you again? You need a specialist. You need someone who will listen. And someone who will understand. You need help finding the right medical team that can hear what you describe and allow it to set off light bulbs in their minds from their experience. You need the team that is equipped with the latest technologies, therapies, and treatments for the specific trauma you have – a team who will treat the injury, not the symptoms.
Specialists in traumatic brain injuries should also know that you are not the only person they should hear from. Sometimes you don’t even know how to articulate what’s going on or how you have changed since your injury. True brain injury specialists know that they must also reach out to your family, your friends, your coworkers, even your favorite coffee barista or mail carrier to get a full and complete picture of the uniqueness of your life. Only then can they craft the proper treatment plan for you.
Phase Two: Litigation
The second, and often most trying phase, negligence victims face is the litigation phase. Think about how difficult it is to get through to your family, friends, and physicians about your injuries. Now try to express how you feel to a suit hired by the person who is trying not to be held accountable. Or to a box full of strangers you are asking to award you money for all you have gone through and the fight you have ahead of you. It cannot be understated the importance of having a team behind you who has learned through experience how to articulate to the opposition the concrete changes you have experienced, to paint a clear picture of what your life used to look like and hang it next to one of what it looks like now.
Queener Law has decades of experience working with families as they navigate this phase. We have helped them find the right medical teams and helped them learn how to express themselves to their community in a way that sets them up for the compensation they require to face their future. We have also faced these same phases in our own lives. There is no part of this process that we have not experienced on a personal level ourselves. What makes us uniquely capable of working with brain injury survivors is that we live amongst them every day. Some of us grew up with them, some of us are growing and learning with them now. We will not ask you do to anything alone, and we will not recommend to you anything we have not experienced ourselves. You are a negligence victim and a brain injury survivor. Let us help you become a survivor of both.
Injuries and Coronavirus
It is understandable that people’s thoughts are elsewhere in times like these. But when our minds are not on the roads or on the safety of ourselves and others, we heighten the dangers around us. While we’ve been asked to stay at home, we are not all so lucky to be able to hunker down. Here are some tips on how to deal with crashes, falls, and other injuries and coronavirus.
1. Keep Your Distance
“Social distancing” is a phrase we’ve heard enough times lately that we are hearing it in our sleep. But that truly is the best way to stem the tide. When you are in a wreck or if you suffer a fall, you should still remind yourself and others to stay at a safe distance. Unless you are in need of immediate medical assistance, make sure to ask witnesses and helpful bystanders to call the proper authorities to assist. If you are in a crash, you will need identifying information for the person that caused the collision. Please be sure to do so at a safe distance.
2. Get Help Immediately
As is always the case when you suffer an injury, immediate medical evaluation and care is essential. This does not change in the times of COVID-19. Hospitals and doctor’s offices are over crowded. Also, these places are full of people being tested for the exact virus we are hoping to avoid. You do not want to add illness to injury. However, many medical providers are assisting injured parties remotely. Consult a physician about your injuries from the comfort of your home. However, as always, if you are severely injured, get yourself to emergency care right away!
3. Take Photos
If you are physically able, or if a friend or loved one can assist, take pictures of anything and everything pertinent to your injury. Because the authorities are focused on coronavirus and keeping our communities safe, they may not be available to respond to the scene of a crash, fall, or other injury. It is vital to your financial recovery that you document the details on your own or with the help of loved ones.
4. Call Us Immediately
After you have cared for your injuries and the injuries others, call us. We can take the reigns and handle the investigation and insurance companies for you so that you can focus on what’s important. We remain fully functional and fully staffed during this crisis because you are important to us. We will stay at the watch to help with your needs. We are here to help you navigate the brave new world of injuries and coronavirus. Hopefully this is a short phase of our lives. But while it’s here, so are we.
Our goals for 2020 include helping you get to know us a little better. To aid in that venture, we are starting a video series to share a bit more about who we are and help you learn more about who you are working with. Our first video features Managing Partner Jennifer K. O’Connell. Jennifer grew up in Tennessee. Her father was a forester and her mother was a public school special education teacher. She and her sister regularly rode out to the woods with their dad or adventuring among the trees behind their family home, their two Springer Spaniels in tow. The whole family took regular camping trips to state and national parks across the country. If you could not see it in a tent, the O’Connell’s were not interested. They saw snow at the Grand Canyon in June and counted buffalo sightings at Yellowstone in February. More than one of those trips was here to the Rocky Mountains. In fact, Jennifer’s parents began visiting the mountains shortly after they were married. Colorado holds a special place in her family. Jennifer also loves her home state of Tennessee. While the mountains of Appalachia have a bit more oxygen at the top, hiking was still a big part of Tennessee life for her and her family. While the summit of Mount Le Conte is only 6,593 feet, there is a 2,763 foot climb to the top and there is often quite a bit of ice at the top.
Click here to learn more about Jennifer and keep an eye out for the next episode to learn more about her team! Hope you enjoy getting to know us!
Queener Law Featured in VoyageDenver
We are thrilled to see Queener Law featured in VoyageDenver! What an honor!
We love their insightful questions that prompt us to think a bit more about how we got here and why we have made the choices we made along the way. The life of a business owner is full of forks in the road and choices. It is always important to look back and evaluate the road already traveled to help make the right decisions for the one ahead. We are also extremely happy that our client-centric focus came through. We purposefully keep out hometown feel and insist that our clients speak to a partner every time. We want to make sure our clients know how important they are and how dedicated we are to their cases. It was very exciting to hear that the editors wanted to see Queener Law featured in VoyageDenver to give us a chance to share that view with the community.
Check out the feature here!
Call us any time for a free consultation or to refer your friends or family members in need of help. No more being tossed around from attorney to attorney or case manager to case manager. At Queener Law, you will be in the capable hands of a partner and paralegals from start to finish. Your case deserves undivided attention, and so do you.
Getting Your Medical Bills Paid the Right Way
“The insurance company said they’d pay all my medical bills. Now they only want to pay a fraction of what I owe!’ We have heard this complaint almost daily in our decades of practice. What’s the reason and who’s the culprit? Of course, every story like this begins with the fact that car insurance companies are designed to collect premiums and not pay out. But that is not the only conspiracy happening here. Hospitals and medical providers have found ways to use the car insurance system to increase profits, as well. In a recent article in The New York Times, the master plan of hospital billing is broken down into the following steps:
1. Medical Swag
When you are in a wreck, the first thing the EMS or ER staff will do is slap on that age-old neck brace. Often, that neck brace either came free as medical sales swag or was bought in bulk at a rate of a few bucks each. When you get your medical bills in the mail, you find out that your insurance paid $100-plus and you owe an additional $20 bucks or so after insurance. You could get the same brace at your local pharmacy for much less. But when your chart is flagged for a car accident, out comes the medical swag. And in the end, all of this gets paid by the car insurance company… out of your settlement.
2. The Cover Charge
When you are taken to the emergency room, you get a bill. That we know. But did you know that this bill is just for use of the room? In essence, that bill is a “cover charge” for entry. In addition to that fee, which may vary depending on how emergent or traumatic your injury may be, there is a separate fee for every material used and every person who walks into the room. In many cases, you’ll even get a completely separate bill just for the use of a doctor, a necessary component of your emergency room visit. This bill, again, may vary based on what the hospital determines is the severity of your injury. Two guesses what they label car accident victims as in order to increase their bill.
3. Impostor Billing
Not only can you get billed for every person who walks in the room, but you may also receive a bill for people who you have never met. Medical billing allows for “consult billing,” even when the physician never consulted with the patient themselves. If a radiologist simply stops an orthopedist in the hallway for a second look at your x-rays, you get billed. These are not common charges, but we see them often in cases like auto accidents where the hospital anticipates deep pockets.
4. The Drive-By
In more serious cases, where post-ER treatment is required, you can get billed even before your first visit. For instance, if your injury requires physical therapy, a therapist can enter the room just to discuss your future therapy visits, and you will receive a bill for that conversation. A full assessment or actual therapeutic treatment is not required for the hospital to bill for it.
We have added this prong because it is so prevalent and crushing to your in-pocket compensation while filling the hospital’s bank account. Hospitals allow representatives from Avectus or other lien companies to enter patients’ rooms, although they have no medical training or degrees and have not received consent from the patient or relatives. Their only purpose is to have medicated and shocked accident victims sign forms promising to pay the hospital’s bill in its entirety, regardless of whether they have health insurance. Why? Because the hospital does not want to take the contractual discount with the health insurance, and instead wants to take as much as possible from the auto insurance policy, in addition to all of your other medical bills.
The End Game
Why do we care so much about what the hospital is doing if the car insurance company is paying in the end? Why should you care about what money goes where? An auto insurance policy is like a bank account. Everything that comes out of it – including medical bills – reduces the amount in the account. In other words, every penny the hospital takes is one less for you. If your hospital bill is inflated simply because you were in an auto accident, your compensation for the injuries you sustained will go to the hospital rather than to you. If the auto policy available is only $50,000 and your hospital bill is $40,000, there is very little money left to pay remaining bills, reimburse your lost wages, or cover your future medical needs. And that’s if you don’t come out with a $75,000 bill and only $50,000 in automobile insurance. What can be done to stop this? Short of changing legislation, simply put, you need an attorney. Our office has decades of experience forcing hospitals to use health insurance and refusing to pay their liens if they are on notice and ignore us. We not only fight the insurance company on your behalf, but we also hold the hospitals to a high ethical and economical standard, refusing to let them dig into the policy that was meant to compensate you. Be aware and proactive with your health and your future. Work with a firm that has no blind side. We see the attacks coming, and will head them off at the start.