Ambulance Bills in a California Personal Injury Case
One of the more common issues that confronts the individual injured in an accident are the ambulance bills. These bills can normally be significant, and there is nothing that quite adds insult to injury like receiving a bill from an ambulance company while you are still recovering from your injury. So how do you proceed with the ambulance bill? Unfortunately, there is not always a favorable solution to this problem. The ambulance company is a creditor, and you are the debtor. This puts the injured in a tough position: they believe the will have a settlement or judgement in due time and it will take care of the bills, but they do not want their credit adversely affected in the meantime. You have several options if you are in this situation.
You or your attorney can contact the ambulance company and request that they wait until a settlement or judgment is reached before taking any action on your credit report. The ambulance company could potentially agree to this, but they will generally request a lien on the recovery, of which they do not currently have. A creditor/debtor relationship does not equate to a lien. So, in exchange for waiting, they will request that the injured sign an agreement giving the ambulance company a lien on the recovery, whether the recovery is earned by a settlement or judgement is irrelevant.
The injured can pay the bill out of pocket and hope that they recover the expenses back in a settlement or judgement. The injured can also do nothing and let it adversely affect their credit and subject themselves to a lawsuit for the recovery. There is no easy answer in these situations. If you do contact the ambulance company and request that they wait, and do agree to a lien, and then no recovery occurs, it still does not absolve you of the ambulance bill. This common situation emphasizes the need to have an accident attorney in your corner. It is not possible to make a solid decision without knowing the chances of recovery in your case, and without a competent accident attorney, most of the time the injured will not have enough information to determine what the chances of recovery are, and thus will not have enough information to determine how to proceed with the ambulance bill.
Of course, the real answer to this question depends on whether the injured has health insurance, and the terms of the insurance policy. Most health insurance providers will pay the ambulance bill, so if you have health insurance or Medicare or Medi-Cal, the first step is to contact them to determine if they will pay for the ambulance, which most of the time is the case. So, if you receive a bill for the ambulance, and you have health insurance, contact your health insurance provider and let them take care of it. If you do not, make sure you consult with a personal injury attorney to determine which is the best course of action you should take to ensure that your credit is not adversely affect, and your pocketbook isn't either.