Taking the Confusion Out of Common Injury and Estate Planning Worries: Answers to Your Frequent Questions

The most important job for any attorney is making sure that his client understands every aspect of her case. Although some lawyers are comfortable keeping their clients in the dark, we feel that you deserve more. You deserve to have all of your questions and concerns addressed in order to pursue your own case confidently and successfully. This is why we take the initiative to answer common questions that you may have even before you even step into our office. If you don't see your question answered below, please contact our office at 855-522-5291.

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  • Do I have to use the proceeds from my settlement to pay my medical bills?

    When it is time for you to settle your case or take it to trial, you and your attorney will revisit your incurred medical bills issue. If your medical bills remain unpaid at the time your case is resolved, the proceeds of the case will likely be used to pay your bills. 

    Medical Bills Eventually Have to Be Paid

    While you might be able to choose to not pay your medical bills with the case proceeds, you are ultimately responsible for the payment of the medical bills. 

    As such, your attorney will likely suggest that you pay them with the funds.  Often times, your attorney can work with your medical providers and have your outstanding bills reduced so that you can pocket more money.

    Paying Medical Bills With MedPay

    If your medical bills were paid by MedPay, typically in Illinois, the insurance company who paid those bills on your behalf is entitled to their money back.  While it may sound like it doesn’t make sense then to use MedPay at all, it is still wise to do so for a couple of reasons.  First, using your MedPay funds will allow you to pay off your unpaid medical bills and avoid collections.  Second, your attorney can likely get a reduction on what needs to be paid back to the MedPay carrier.  In Missouri, the news is even better because state law prohibits the MedPay carrier from seeking reimbursement. 

    In other words, in Missouri, you don't have to pay MedPay money back.

    If your bills were paid by health insurance, your attorney will have to review your contract with your health insurance carrier.  Typically, when you sign up for your health insurance, whether you know it or not, you agree to pay back your carrier if they pay your bills and then you collect from the at-fault driver. 

    Calculating Total Amount That Needs To Be Paid

    How much you have to pay back depends on how your contract reads.

    As with the unpaid medical bills and MedPay, sometimes, your attorney can get that amount reduced.  The medical bills issue can be difficult to navigate - it helps to have an attorney guide you.

     

  • Shouldn't the at-fault driver's insurance be paying my medical bills?

    As a personal injury attorney, my clients are often concerned about their medical bills after a crash or other injury suffered as a result of someone’s negligence.  I want to provide some information about this issue.  While it seems like they should, the at-fault insurance carrier does not pay your bills as they come due - they reimburse you, or your health insurance company, for your incurred medical bills at the time the case resolves.  Sometimes injured individuals will treat for a year or more.  This means that medical bills can go unpaid for that period of time too.

    When Medical Bills Pile Up

    I have seen situations where my clients’ injuries are so severe that the patient is unable to provide health insurance information at the hospital’s emergency room.  This certainly happens when the client is unconscious at the time of transfer.  Because the insurance information is not provided to the medical provider, the medical bills grow.  Sometimes, these medical bills are sent to collections and can damage credit scores.  This is obviously unfortunate considering the bills should have and could have been paid.  If you have been injured, always make sure you you’re your medical providers to bill your health insurance.  You should make sure your family members know this so that they can help you in case you are unable to pass on the insurance information yourself.  If you have been to a medical provider immediately following a car crash or other injury and you aren’t sure if the provider has your health insurance information, call the medical provider now.  Often times, the provider has a limited amount of time to properly submit your bills to insurance.

    Send Bills to Health Insurance Company

    As you are treating for your injuries, make sure you submit your bills to your health insurance company. Sometimes, the medical providers will see that your injuries were caused by a car crash and will try to bill the at fault driver's insurance.  Unfortunately, while the medical provider may mean well, this puts you in a bad position.  The at fault carrier won't pay the medical bills until they accept liability and sometimes not until the case is resolved.  This confusion can leave medical bills unpaid.  So, even if other driver had car insurance at the time of the crash, tell your medical providers to bill your health insurance company. 

    MedPay Coverage

    If you don't have health insurance, hopefully, you had MedPay coverage with your car insurance.  MedPay is an optional component of your car insurance that pays medical bills.  It will pay for medical care for you and your passengers, up to certain amount, regardless of fault.  If you don't have health insurance or MedPay, sometimes doctors will hold their bills until the claim is resolved - it's always worth asking.  The key is that you seek treatment and make sure the bills aren't sitting unpaid.

     

  • Should I see a doctor after a crash or fall even if I'm not sure I'm hurt?

    If you are injured in crash, or fall or some other way, it is very important that you seek medical treatment.  Seeking medical treatment is important for any claim that you might have because the claim won't be very valuable without a doctor's opinion regarding the injuries.  Seeking medical attention after an injury is also very important for your health. If you have a family doctor that you see regularly, go see him/her for your injuries.  Your family doctor will refer you to a specialist if you need it. 

    It is important that you be honest and complete but don't exaggerate your injuries.

    I often hear from clients that they don’t seek medical attention because it is too difficult to get off work or school.  In addition, sometimes there are financial considerations that make it impossible to go to the doctor.  I tell my clients - do your very best to get treatment.

    Regarding school/work restrictions, try to talk to the administration at the school or your boss ahead of time.  Perhaps you can develop a plan for you to take off to get treatment and make up the school work or the work time later. 

    If you have to miss work or school, we will ask for that lost time to be compensated as part of your claim. 

    This is true even if you didn’t lose money but instead had to use vacation or sick time at work. Regarding the financial considerations, it is important that if you have medical insurance, you use your insurance to seek treatment.  If you are not fortunate enough to hold medical insurance, you will want to contact your car insurance company to find out if you had MedPay coverage as part of your insurance. 

    MedPay will cover some of your bills up to a certain amount and can provide the means for you to seek treatment after an injury. 

    If you weren’t carrying MedPay at the time of the crash, ask your doctor for names of docs who treat on “lien” - this means the doctor will hold your bill until the end of your case. As always, if you have questions about this process, you should consult with your attorney.

  • Do I Have to Talk to An Insurance Adjuster After a Crash?

    We are so sorry to hear about your crash, and we hope your arm is healing up quickly! Insurance adjusters are trained to call you immediately after a wreck.

    Insurance Adjusters Will Try To Trick You

    To be honest, they know that if they can get to you before you hire an attorney, it could save their company money.

    They literally put this in their training manuals.

    Always Talk To a Lawyer First

    Under your insurance policy, you have an obligation to cooperate with YOUR company, but that doesn’t mean you have to talk to them while you’re still injured or in the hospital. If you get a call from your adjuster, tell them you want an opportunity to consider hiring counsel and that you will cooperate with them after consulting with an attorney.

    If the other driver’s adjuster calls, you have NO obligation to provide them with information, and you should not talk to them until you consult with an attorney.

    Schedule a Free Consultation

    If you would like to set up a free consultation with us, we would be happy to look at your crash report and medical records in order to determine if you need an attorney. If you do, you will not pay anything unless we secure a settlement or verdict for you.

    For more information on what to do after a crash, please order your copy of our free book ‘When the Rules of the Road Get Broken,’ or download your copy HERE.

     

  • Does a contract have to be written to be valid in Illinois?

    Many clients assume that a contract must be in writing to be valid in Illinois. This is not always the case.

    What Qualifies as Legally Binding?

    In fact, much of the time, an oral agreement can be considered a legally binding contract. There are three main special circumstances to this rule.These circumstances are part of the Statute of Frauds that says that, because of the possibility of abuse in certain situations, a contract must be in writing in order to be valid.

    The three special circumstances are: 

    1. The sale of "real property." Real property is property that cannot be moved- for example, your house or land.
    2. The sale of something for $500 or more. You should always have a written contract for something that costs $500 or more.
    3. A contract that takes more than a year to complete. For example, a 2-year employment contract would certainly need to be in writing.

    Ask a Corporate Attorney

    For more information on legal contracts in Illinois, check out this video or submit a contact form. 

     

  • Is it illegal to leave my child alone in the car for a short period of time?

    A mother in Florida was arrested last week after a police officer spotted her sleeping child alone in her vehicle. The woman had left the car running and the doors unlocked while she ran a brief errand. Her reasoning did not keep her out of jail. So, what does the law in Illinois say about child safety in automobiles?

    A person who leaves a child 6 years of age or younger unattended in a motor vehicle for more than 10 minutes is in violation of the law. 

    Defining "Unattended"

    Like most laws, the details are very important. Unattended means either: 

    • Not accompanied by a person 14 years of age or older; or
    • If accompanied by a person 14 years of age or older, out of sight of that person.

    Consequences of Leaving Child Unattended In Vehicle

    A violation of this Section is a Class A misdemeanor which means up to one year in jail and up to a $2500 fine. In some cases, it may also lead to involvement of DCFS. A second violation is a Class 3 felony, meaning 2 to 5 years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine. A violation that causes the death of the child is a Class 3 felony for which a person, if sentenced to prison, shall be sentenced to a term of 2 years and up to 10 years.

    Even under the safest conditions, it is never a good idea to leave children unattended in a car. The minor inconvenience of having a grumpy toddler or a tired baby is surely better than being forced to answer to a judge and DCFS about your parenting choices.

    Contact an Attorney If You Have Questions

    If you have questions regarding the matter above, please reach out to a family law attorney here at Tapella & Eberspacher.

     

  • Can I be forced to sell my home to pay for nursing home costs?

    Generally speaking, the answer is no – except in cases of fraud.

    Owning a house will likely not affect your eligibility for Medicaid assistance with the cost of nursing home care because you are allowed up to several hundred thousand dollars of ownership interest in your homestead (the house where you otherwise would and did reside). 

    Even if you have more than that amount of interest in your house, you may be eligible for the “spend down” program, wherein Medicaid determines the amount that you can and should be able to afford to spend on your medical care each month (based upon your assets and income).  All medical expenses above that “spend down” amount would be covered by Medicaid.

    Medicaid Assistance

    Once you are deemed eligible for Medicaid assistance, it is important to note that Medicaid often CAN seek reimbursement for paying your medical bills (including nursing home bills) by (a) filing a lien on your real estate (house); and/or (b) filing a claim against your estate.  Neither a lien nor an estate claim will be filed until and unless you have resided in a nursing home for at least 120 days.  [If you are concerned about an estate claim and/or lien being filed, please note that (a) your heirs may request a waiver of estate claims by showing undue hardship; and (b) a lien will not be foreclosed upon except in cases of fraud and/or after you pass away; but the lien will affect you whenever you sell your house.]  A lien will also not be filed against your house if it is lawfully occupied by your spouse, by your child who is under the age of 21, or by your child who is over the age of 21 and is blind and/or disabled.  

    Consult Our Estate Planning Lawyers For Further Information

    For more information, check out this video answer from attorney Angel Wawrzynek. If you need help forming a will or estate plan, contact us today at 855-522-5291 for a free consultation. 

     

  • How soon will I receive my Workers' Comp Settlement?

    workers comp settlement check timelineMany of my workers’ compensation clients ask me, “Once I agree to the settlement of my workers’ compensation case, how long does it take to get the money?”

    4-8 Weeks is a General Guideline for Workers' Compensation Settlements

    Generally, it will take 4-8 weeks from the time the agreement is reached until there is money in your hands.  Once the settlement is reached, the employers’ attorney will need to draft the settlement contracts. 

    The contracts are then signed by the attorneys and the employee and then submitted to the arbitrator handling the matter for approval.  This process can take a few weeks by the time everything is circulated in the mail.

    How The Workers' Compensation Payment Process Works

    Here’s how it works: Once the arbitrator approves the contracts, the employer’s attorney will order the settlement check from the insurer.  The settlement check is generally made payable to you and your attorney’s office. Therefore, you must endorse the check and then the attorney’s office must endorse the check. The funds are then placed in the attorney’s trust account until everyone is sure the check has cleared, a process that can take another two weeks. 

    Once the check has cleared, the attorney’s office will make the final distribution from its trust account. Further delays can arise if the insurer fails to pay the settlement amount once the contract has been approved by the arbitrator.

    While there is no deadline under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, which states that the insurer must send the check within a certain time frame, the employer and his insurer can have attorneys’ fees and penalties assessed against them if there is an unreasonable delay in payment. Although everyone is committed to providing you with the funds as soon as possible, the rules of distribution set out by the Illinois Supreme Court tell us that, even though the settlement has been reached, it will still take some time before the money is in your hands. 

    Do You Need a Workers' Compensation Attorney to Help With Your Claim?

    If You have been injured at work, It's important to have a qualified and experienced workers' compensation attorney on your side. Contact Tapella & Eberspacher today at 855-522-5291 for a free consultation.

  • I want more visitation with my daughter. Do I need an attorney to go back to court?

    In January of 2016, Illinois greatly revised the way divorce proceedings will be handled in our state.

    For starters, 'grounds' and 'waiting periods' were basically eliminated. The new law allows for only one ground: irreconcilable differences. This phrase assigns no blame to either party. Another major change to the law is that parenting plans are now mandatory in Illinois. That means that each parent will be required to submit their own plan for how the children should be parented in regards to education, religion, athletics, and other important areas. 

    Finally, custody and visitation have been redefined. As a matter of fact, those terms have been almost completely eliminated. Now you will hear attorneys and judges using the terms 'parental responsibilities' and 'parental time.' Parental responsibility functions as custody used to. In other words, it will determine who has decision making rights for the children in the important areas set forth in the parenting plan. Parental time functions as visitation used to. It determines who the child will stay with, and for what periods of time.

    Talk to a Family Law Attorney Today

    As you can see, the new Illinois Dissolution of Marriage Laws are good for children and families, but they are complicated. Your time with your children is at stake, so we believe it's a good idea to find a family law attorney you trust to walk you through this process. If you are considering a divorce or you believe that your parental time needs to be revisited, call us anytime for a free consultation at 855-522-5291.

     

  • I had surgery for a back injury about 5 years ago. I was recently in a wreck while driving to an off-site work meeting and now it is flaring up. Is there any way for me to get Workers Comp?

    Many people believe that they cannot file for workers' compensation benefits on a preexisting condition like your back injury. In reality, you may be entitled to compensation if your injury/surgical site was aggravated by a work-related task. Since you were in the wreck while driving to a work-related function, it would most likely be covered by workers' compensation. Be sure to notify your employer, set up a doctor's visit, and then call us for a free consultation at 855-522-5291.