How much should I settle for a torn rotator cuff and high medical bills?

by Katie

In July of 2013 I was tail ended... 3 of my 5 children were in the car as well as my fiancé with no injuries them, only myself. I went through a major surgery on my rotator cuff and it has caused me to be out of work for about 8 months now.

I am a hair dresser and because of the severity of the damage done to my shoulder, I cannot return back to work until my shoulder is repaired enough to withstand holding my arm in the air for a good length of time out of the day.

My children are now ages 3 to 6 (two 3 year olds, two 4 year olds, and a six year old). I was engaged at the time, but due to the accident we have had to postpone any type of marriage. The financial strain this accident has caused me and my family is tremendous and has caused me to go into a deep depression, among other issues between my fiancé and I.

I still have months before returning back to work and the medical bills are only rising (approximately $65,000 at the moment). The insurance company only paid for a certain portion of the bills and now I fear they could go to collections at any given moment.

I've never been through anything like this before and am not sure how much to settle for and what a realistic number would be. What do you think? Thanks for any info you can provide.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "How much should I settle for a torn rotator cuff and high medical bills?":

Katie (Nebraska):

Nebraska is a third party "Fault" state. Unlike in no-fault states, where an injured party must turn to his or her own insurance company for compensation, in a third party fault state like Nebraska, an injured party has the right to pursue the negligent driver for compensation.

In your case, you must hope the injured driver carried more than Nebraska’s minimum car insurance requirements. Nebraska’s minimums are $25,000 for a single injured party, and $50,000 for more than one injured party. Nebraska also requires drivers to carry uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in the amounts of $25,000/$50,000.

Because of the amount of your medical bills, you should not settle with the negligent driver’s insurance company for less than the driver’s limits. If he or she had the minimum, then you deserve full policy limits of $25,000. Your underinsured policy should pay policy limits as well.

Contact your medical providers. In many cases, medical providers will agree to compromise their bills to accommodate insured parties who don't have the funds to pay the full bill. Moreover, once the medical provider compromises the amount, the provider often extinguishes the length of the past debt.

Alternately, if a provider won't cooperate, you can ask if you can make monthly payments in the amount of $50.00 or less. While this may seem low, to large medical providers, as long as they are receiving full payment, they will usually permit the injured party to make very small installment payments. Its better than receiving nothing, and it keeps your credit intact.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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