Received an Emergency Room Bill After We Signed the Settlement Release...

by Cheryl
(Tupelo, MS)

My son was in an automobile accident in February 2012 that was the other driver's fault. All the medical bills were turned over to the at-fault driver's insurance company and paid by them. We waited a couple of months to make sure there would be no more medical bills and then signed the settlement release with the insurance company in May.

Last month (July) we received an unexpected bill from the Emergency Room physician. Can we fight this bill since they waited so long to bill us and we've already released the insurance company? Or are we going to have to pay it? Is there anything we can do? Thanks so much.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Received an Emergency Room Bill After We Signed the Settlement Release...":

Cheryl (Tupelo, MS):

Unfortunately if the emergency room bill is legitimate and covered your son's emergency room treatment, your son - or you, if he is a minor - is responsible for its payment.

You really had a duty to be sure all bills were paid before signing the settlement agreement. The settlement agreement assuredly included a full release. Once the release was signed the at-fault driver and his insurance company were relieved of all medical liability and financial responsibility for your son's injuries, including any further medical or therapeutic treatment and related bills.

The only recourse you may have is to speak with the hospital's administration and explain what happened. Ask them if they will "adjust" or "compromise" the bill. That means having the bill lessened by anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 or more. In addition you might ask for time to pay out the bill.

It's also a good idea to call the insurance company and plead your case. Ask them to cover the bill. The release may have even stated all bills for medical treatment prior to a certain date are covered. It's worth a shot.

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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