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Personal Injury Settlements – Where Does the Money Go?

February 23, 2016

As Arizona Personal Injury Lawyers, one the questions we get asked most is “are you going to take all of my money at the end of the case?”  While we understand this is a major concern, we always educate our personal injury clients about where the settlement money goes after an insurance company writes a check.  This article is not an exhaustive list of all of the payments that need to be made, but it is a good source of information for clients looking for an Arizona personal injury lawyer.

Let’s use an example using a made up personal injury case.  Peter Plaintiff get’s T-boned by Daniel Defendant.  

Peter is injured.  Peter takes an ambulance to the emergency room where they run several tests on him (X-Rays, CT Scan) and he is released and not admitted.   Peter has a private health insurance plan through his employer to cover these personal injuries.   

Peter then follows up with his primary care doctor who refers him to physical therapy.  Peter treats for three months, and then he is stable enough to be released from physical therapy for his personal injuries.  

Let’s take a look at where any settlement money will go:

  • Of course, his Arizona Personal Injury lawyer needs to be paid.  Generally, this is 33% on the settlement.  
  • The medical providers will all need to be paid.  WAIT!  You say.  Didn’t Peter already have private health insurance?  YES.  He did.  However, under Arizona law, the hospital can choose NOT to bill his health insurance OR, if they do bill his health insurance, the hospital can assert what is called a BALANCE BILLING LIEN.  Here’s how that works – let’s say Peter’s health insurance paid the hospital 50% of their billed charges because the hospital has a contract with the private health insurance where the private health insurance always accepts that amount.  Well, in a personal injury case, the hospital can then file a legal lien with the County Recorder’s office trying to get the other 50% from the patient.  Your Arizona personal injury attorney will make sure the claim is valid (there are many legal requirements to these liens), address and negotiate these.  
  • Next, the private health plan usually wants to be paid back the medical bills it paid from the settlement.  Your personal injury lawyer will make sure the claim is valid, negotiate it, and pay it for you out of the settlement, if necessary.  
  • The costs to collect medical records can be several hundred dollars.  Your personal injury attorney will fight these ridiculous charges and make sure that these medical record clearinghouses are complying with the maximum charges allowed by law.
  • The rest of the settlement goes to Peter.  At Torgenson Law, we give all of our clients a “Final Accounting Sheet” listing every single dollar in and dollar out so that you know where your money goes.  

At Torgenson Law, we have handled hundreds of personal injury matters and we know the ins and outs of Arizona law to make certain you (or Peter) receive a fair payment from all of the available insurance companies, fair reductions, and negotiations on the liens from the medical providers, and fight for every single dollar so that you are happy and satisfied with us.  

For a free consultation, call us at (602) 726-0747 or email John at jtorgenson@torgensonlaw.com.  Loyalty.  Trust.  Commitment.  Those are what we do.