Insurance companies are pretty good at estimating the cost of an accident. This is, after all, the core of their business. And while they will always look to cut corners, you can also feel pretty comfortable that they know what they are talking about.
The same can’t be said when it comes to your medical costs after a car wreck. This makes sense, because automobile insurers are in the business of covering and repairing cars. They aren’t doctors, and it’s not fair for them to act like they are, telling you what procedures you do and don’t need and refusing to pay for some of your treatment. Did they graduate medical school?
We didn’t think so.
Medical Costs in Southern California Are Soaring
To be fair, medical costs are much harder to estimate than car repairs, and the healthcare industry is suffering from a number of issues that make it extremely difficult to keep costs down. There’s nothing that insurers hate more than uncertainty, and when it comes to doctor’s bills and medical treatment, there will always be uncertainty.
In 2014, healthcare spending in California topped out at 292 billion dollars, or more than $7,500 per person. Moreover, the total spending on healthcare in California grew faster than the national average over the last ten years. There is also a lot of discrepancy in costs depending on which part of the state you live in, or even which hospital you are admitted to. The growing costs and variation of healthcare have put a lot of pressure on automobile insurers.
But while this problem may not be the fault of automobile insurers, it’s not fair for them to make their customers pay. Victims of car accidents should not be nickel-and-dimed by their insurance companies when it comes to necessary medical treatments.
Unfortunately, this is exactly what is happening.
Insurance Companies Will Try to Limit Coverage
No matter what your policy says, your company will often offer only a fraction of your medical costs following an accident. They’ll say things like “It shouldn’t have cost that much,” or “Was this procedure really necessary?” Their priority is limiting the amount of money they pay out, not ensuring you have a full and healthy recovery.
How do they get away with this behavior? Well, for many years, insurance companies have been following a strategy known as delay, deny, and defend, in which they seek to delay payouts as long as possible, deny them on the flimsiest of grounds, and force their clients to take them to court where they defend themselves with expensive lawyers. They know that most of their customers will have no choice but to accept a partial settlement, especially when they are offering money up front and someone desperately needs it.
If somebody slams into your pickup truck and you don’t have adequate health coverage (or have a steep deductible), it could be problematic for you to wait for that driver’s insurance company to agree to pay for your medical expenses. That gives the company the leverage it needs to offer a woefully inadequate settlement up front. Many people will have no choice but to accept whatever amount they are offered, because they can’t afford to wait.
What Options Do You Have?
It’s important to remember that your insurance agent is not a medical expert. Do not let him advise you on what treatments you need. Only you and your doctor should be allowed to decide that.
This means that you should get yourself the full treatment you need to recover first and foremost. Whenever possible, have your health insurance bear the brunt of these costs. In many cases, it may be possible to recover those costs later from the at-fault driver or insurance company, and you may be able to put that money in your pocket. This will depend on whether you have a health insurance policy or what is known as a health benefit plan.
But no matter your situation, if you have been the victim of an automobile accident, you are protected under California law. You have the right to be fully compensated for your medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation, and pain and suffering associated with that collision—but the insurance company won’t tell you that.
At Jurewitz Law Group, we don’t believe that insurance companies should pay cut-rate prices for quality medical services. That’s an insult to both you and your doctor. If you have been the victim of a car accident in San Diego, call us today at (888) 233-5020 to schedule a free consultation.
And if an insurance adjuster questions whether you really needed all those physical therapy sessions after your knee surgery… tell him to speak with your lawyer. You’re too busy getting better to deal with that crap.
Ross Jurewitz is the founder and managing lawyer of the Jurewitz Law Group, a San Diego personal injury attorney law firm. These San Diego injury accident lawyers specialize in helping people seriously injured in a variety of accidents throughout San Diego County and California.
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