You get that terrible phone call – your husband has been seriously injured in a car wreck. He has been hit head-on by a teenage drunk driver.
You go to the hospital and find your husband is in a coma, has a brain injury and a grotesquely broken arm. The doctors want to amputate. The nights at the hospital are long and tense, but he eventually comes out of the coma. Now the real work begins. He’s sent to a rehabilitation center to re-learn skills he lost because of his brain injury and amputation. It will be years
before he can become employed. The costs are astounding:
• $18,526.89 for every day in intensive care
• $8,251.59 for the rest of the days in the hospital
• $2,784.98 for every day spent in the rehabilitation center
• $???? for the lost ability to work
• $???? for future medical care
Community Hospital Report of Admission
History: This 45-year-old man, the father of three young children, was in a car that was hit head-on by a teen-age drunk driver. The patient was thrown through the windshield of the car. The patient was unconscious and was intubated. This occurred about 25 minutes ago. The patient had an obvious open radius and ulnar fracture of the right arm with bone sticking out.
Examination: The patient has a traumatic brain injury with a frontal lobe contusion. He intermittently follows a command. He also has a grade III horrible open fracture of his right radius and ulna that needs to be amputated tonight. Because of his frontal contusion and the fact that he is going under anesthesia, neurosurgery has been consulted and they will put a monitor in his head so we can monitor his intracranial pressure during his procedure. He is aware of the risk of further brain injury. The patient also has a laceration to his head and other contusions on his back and arm.
There’s one thing this family didn’t think it needed to worry about – how to pay the astronomical medical bills. Surely they could sue the drunk driver. He has to pay for all the damage he caused—doesn’t he? The medical bills and lost wages would be paid out of a claim made against the teenager’s car insurance policy, right?
This nightmare was just beginning for our client when he and his wife came into our office. We told them that Washington, like many states, only requires that every driver buy minimal auto insurance. “Remember when you were purchasing your car insurance and the agent showed you the different coverages you could buy? Remember that the required minimum in our state is $25,000? This is Washington’s way of telling you that you don’t need to have enough insurance to cover it if you severely injure someone. We’ll need to check on how much insurance the drunk driver had, if he had any insurance at all, before we can help you with your case,” we advised.
We did some checking around and found out that the drunk driver didn’t have any insurance. “Although Washington law requires all drivers to have at least $25,000 of coverage, a shocking amount of drivers don’t have any insurance at all” we told them. In fact, it is believed that over 21% of all Washington drivers who are involved in accidents are uninsured.
More Bad News Was Coming
This family’s medical bills were paid by a health insurance plan from the husband’s employer. This was a relatively new type of plan. This plan says, “If we pay your medical bills for an accident and the accident was someone else’s fault, we want to be repaid for every penny we spent before you collect a dime for yourself.” In other words, even if we get any money out of the drunk driver, the health insurance company wants it all!
What About Suing the Drunk Driver?
“Sure, we can do that,” we told them. “But what does he have? He’s only a teenager. He’s not employed and we learned that he is now in jail. If we sue and win, he can file for bankruptcy protection and never have to pay you.”
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Source: Premier Law Group