In a personal injury case my lawyer told me the other party had insurance when they did not. Am I liable for the health costs?

Asked about 1 year ago - Las Vegas, NV

two weeks after the accident my attorney said the other party had no insurance. Two weeks later I got a call from my attorney and was told the at fault party did have insurance. Now (a month and a half later) the attorney is saying there is no insurance and I may be liable for the costs even though I wasn't attending physical therapy until after they told me the other party was insured. Last week I found out, and now my attorney is basically avoiding my calls. What recourse do I have? What should I do, contact another attorney (im guessing expensive) report to state Bar or other? Thank you!

Attorney answers (6)

  1. Richard S. Johnson

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

    10

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . The short answer to your question is yes. You are responsible for the medical care you received.

    It could have been a simple mistake regarding the lack of insurance. You should contact your attorney again and try to find out what happened. If your attorney won't return your calls, try to schedule a meeting. You can contact another attorney, but if ere is really no insurance, it may be hard to find one to take on your case. If this was a motor vehicle accident and you have uninsured motorist coverage, you should make a claim with your own insurance company.

    If you would like a free consultation, call me at 702-823-3333. www.naimidilbeck.com
  2. Richard H. Wooster

    Contributor Level 11

    8

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . What would you report to the State Bar? That the attorney received conflicting information about insurance? If you needed the medical treatment, it is good you got the treatment you needed even if you can't pay. Did you have any insurance of your own? If you did, you may have PIP coverage or uninsured motorist coverage to help make you whole if the person that caused the accident was too irresponsible to carry enough insurance, or even the state minimum. Don't assume your attorney is avoiding your calls because he does not call back right away. Good attorneys are usually busy. Additionally, if there is no new information to report your attorney may be trying to get information before calling you back. Leave a message about what you want to talk about that is specific, as opposed to, "I want to talk about my case." That way, the attorney may be able to answer your question through his legal assistant on the fly even if he is tied up in other matters.

    This response does not create a lawyer client relationship. Each case is determined on its specific facts and... more
  3. Thomas D. Boley

    Contributor Level 14

    4

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Yes you are liable for the medical bills. I was an insurance defense counsel, where we constantly addressed this exact issue. In most instances, the plaintiff's attorney assumes that the insurance provided at the scene is valid. When the attorney sends a letter of representation to the at-fault insurance company and requests the declarations, the insurance company might have a coverage issue. This can occur if the driver was not the owner of the car, or the policy was canceled partway through the term. In very complex cases, the insurance company requests what is called a "coverage opinion" from their counsel. If the insurance company denies coverage, the plaintiff's attorney can choose to go forward or cease work on the case. I personally researched and wrote many of these.

    In many instances, if the plaintiff's gets a judgment against the defendant and the denial was in bad faith, the insurance company can be liable for major damages to both the plaintiff and defendant.

    Either way, let this serve as an example. There are many people who "dabble" in plaintiff's work because it is relatively high profit. You need to make sure your attorney understands how an insurance company adjusts claims and evaluates coverage issues. What your attorney did does not give rise to a cause of action against him. However, an inexperienced personal injury attorney can cause you to have tons of outstanding medical debt if he initiates a case before fully evaluating its value and whether it can support medical liens.

    There are a lot of bad attorneys out there. Beware.

  4. Jason Todd Studinski

    Contributor Level 20

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . This sounds very strange. Consider getting a second opinion from another lawyer. Good luck.

  5. Christian K. Lassen II

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    5

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Yes, but contact your lawyer to discuss.

  6. Jonathan Craig Reed

    Pro

    Contributor Level 16

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . If your lawyer referred you to your health care providers and they treated you on a lien basis they may be willing to write off your bills as a cost of doing business and to keep referrals coming from the lawyer who referred you to them.

    I would not be as ready as some to criticize your lawyer simply on the information you provided. Often times, there is no way, say, in the 30 days following a car collision, for a good plaintiff's attorney to know for sure if the other side has valid insurance.(For example, the driver who caused the accident didn't own the car that caused the accident and wasn't listed on the policy.) But, in a soft tissue injury case, if the Plaintiff is not treated, say within the first 30 days, it damages the case very much.

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