Many times after a loved one is injures or dies as a result of nursing home neglect or negligence, our South Florida nursing home injury lawyers are asked how to get out of hospital medical bills. We have heard of instances wherein nursing home administrators have given families misleading or false information about recovering compensation for these bills.
Once, a nursing home administrator told the family of a patient who died of neglect that it would be a “waste of time” to file a lawsuit against them for medical bills because anything they won would go back to Medicaid and/ or Medicare (or whatever health insurer covered the patient prior to death). This is not so, though it’s impossible to say whether this advice was intentionally misleading or the result of a misunderstanding. When you ask “How to get out of hospital medical bills,” realize that some of those bills have already been covered by the health care insurer. Usually, nursing home patients are covered by Medicaid, a health care plan for people in poverty, as opposed to Medicare, a federal health insurance program for older Americans that does not provide coverage for long-term care, only short stints between a hospital stay and returning home.
What this administrator was likely referring to is something called “subrogation.” This is a type of insurance principle, spelled out specifically with regard to Medicaid in F.S. 409.910, that bars plaintiffs (those seeking compensation) from “double-dipping,” or collecting from two different payers for a single injury. So if Medicaid foots most of the bill for your loved one’s nursing home injuries, you sue the nursing home for negligence that caused those injuries, Medicaid’s contribution to those medical bills will need to be repaid from whatever amount you’ve been awarded for medical bills as part of the settlement or verdict. And of course, there may be some medical expenses you still paid out-of-pocket.
However, medical bills aren’t the only damages one incurs in a nursing home negligence case, and that’s really why the administrator’s advice in this case falls short. Our South Florida nursing home injury lawyers have been successful in winning compensation for patients and loved ones for things like pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment, loss of consortium, mental/ emotional anguish, wrongful death and more. Those kind of damages aren’t paid by your health insurer, so subrogation wouldn’t apply. In other words, it is often worth it to patients and/ or loved ones to pursue a claim against the nursing home for negligence resulting in injury.
How to Get Out of Hospital Medical Bills After Nursing Home Injury
As you’re weighing how to get out of hospital medical bills after your loved one’s death or discharge from the hospital, you should know first of all that unlike a car accident negligence case, nursing home negligence resulting in injuries won’t automatically grant you any personal injury protection coverage or an offer to settle by the nursing home. Facilities fight these cases hard – and if nothing else force them into arbitration, if they can – because they know the damage potentially inflicted to their business (most now are for-profit) when their patient care shortcomings are brought to light. So if you suspect nursing home negligence was a factor, you should first talk to an injury lawyer or wrongful death attorney in South Florida.
However, because those bills are going to be owed immediately, it might be tempting to take whatever early settlement offer may come your way. First know this: Florida does not have filial responsibility laws like other states that impose liability on children for the debts of a parent. So whatever hospital bill your mom or grandmother had as a result of the incident, you aren’t personally responsible for it. However, if the patient died, his or her estate could be required to pay those debts. Whatever is paid out of pocket for expenses related to an injury caused by negligence should be sought in the course of a nursing home negligence lawsuit.
You may also try in the meantime to see if those bills can be negotiated down to a more manageable amount in the meantime, though it will depend on whether it matters that the nursing home resident’s credit suffers. Discuss how to get out of hospital medical bills with our experienced South Florida nursing home injury attorneys.
Call Freeman Injury Law — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights. Now serving Orlando, West Palm Beach, Port St. Lucie and Fort Lauderdale.
Got Hefty Medical Bills? Try Negotiating to Get Them Reduced, April 4, 2017, By Barbara Kiviat, Consumer Reports
More Blog Entries:
Do I Have a Choice About Florida Nursing Home Arbitration? Palm Beach Injury Lawyer Answers, Nov. 19, 2018, South Florida Nursing Home Injury Lawyer Blog