Once You Start an Accident Case, Please Don't Stop Until it's Over
At least, not until you talk to your lawyer first!
Every once in a while a client will hire me in an accident case and not want to finish out their treatment or their case. Maybe this is because they have to move away, transfer jobs, have family troubles or possibly even go to jail. This just happened to me where an old client of mine just sent me an email saying she "just wants to be done with her case". So she decided to stop treatment and hasn't returned calls from me and my secretary.
What Happens Now?
My client went to the hospital, had x-rays and began treatment with a therapist. At this point she has accumulated several thousand dollars in medical bills. If she doesn't contact me, I will likely be forced to drop her case and tell all of her medical providers that I no longer represent her. They will then look to her to pay all of her own medical bills. What's worse is that there will be no bodily injury recovery in this case because the injury claim is being abandoned and thus, there will be no money coming in to pay the medical bills.
Some time in the next few days, or weeks, my client will start getting calls from her doctors, labs, and therapists. All of them will want to get paid for their services. All of them will look to her to pay them. Shortly thereafter, my client will start to panic and call me and ask me what is happening. I will tell her that as she knows, she is responsible for the bills and regrettably, after we drop a case, that leaves her as the only person from who to collect that money.
How Do We Avoid This?
Sometimes, once certain things get put into motion, they tend to develops lives of their own. In the case of a personal injury case, the doctor's, therapists, and labs work on what is called a "lien basis". This means generally means that they treat the patient first and get paid later. To be clear, it does not mean that they treat first and get paid out of a possible recovery. Rather, it means that they wait to get paid and take their fee out of the ultimate recovery in the bodily injury case. This recovery could be months or even years after an accident.
Once the medical providers start providing treatment, they start accumulating expenses and bills. The longer they treat, obviously, the higher their bills will get. Sometimes, when we are part way through a bodily injury case and the client gets sufficient treatment to justify it, they may get some semblance of a recovery if they quit their case early. In my case, my client is not even returning my calls. If she isn't talking to me, then there is no way I can prosecute her claim. This means there is no way I can get her even a penny toward a recovery.
The simple way to avoid such a terrible situation is communicate with me. If my client just talked to me I could tell her that the best thing to do would be to see this through to the end. She should finish out her treatment. We would get final medical reports and bills and submit them to the other side. We would resolve her claim, pay her outstanding bills and get her paid for her pain and suffering.
If my client really didn't want to or simply couldn't finish out her treatment we could still try and salvage the claim we have now. We could put together the bills we have and submit them to the insurance company and likely make at least enough money out of the claim to get her bills paid and avoid having creditors hunt her down for payment on their bills. It may sound silly, but communication with your lawyer can go a long way to help keeps things on track.
If you or someone close to you has been injured in an accident, please call me:
Attorney Jeffrey Vallens (818) 783-5700 or (888) 764-4340 or
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my sites: