In my recent discussions about the financial aspects of personal injury claims, I have emphasized the importance of negotiating medical bills. Within this topic, there is an important legal principle that we often rely on at Maes Law, P.C. called the “Make Whole Doctrine.”
The basic premise is that if you have been injured, you should be made whole before you have to pay back any lien-holders. As an example, we’ll use the the following scenario:
- You are injured in a car accident and incur $100,000 in medical bills
- You have $50,000 in pain and suffering
- You are hit by someone who has the minimum required liability insurance of $25,000
- The medical providers have rendered their services, and retained a lien against any money you receive from a liable third party. This is called a right of subrogation, and it is in almost all insurance contracts.
Under this scenario, you would receive $25,000 for the $150,000 in damages that you suffered. What’s more, is that you would have to pay all $25,000 to the medical providers. This would leave you with $75,000 of debt, and a shortage of $50,000 for your pain, suffering, lost wages, future impairment, etc.
There is a solution!
This situation is a nightmare. It is also the very reason for the Make Whole Doctrine’s existence. Using the same circumstances above, a person using the Make Whole Doctrine is entitled to receive the full $25,000 before any lien-holder may take their share. The idea is that he or she has not been made whole. C.R.S. § 10-1-135.
If your attorney is authorized to pay your bills, then they should make this claim for you. The law even states that a reasonable attorney fee should be prioritized over a lien-holder. This is because the law recognizes how valuable hiring a lawyer can be (not to mention, it was written by lawyers). This shows the intention of the legislature, as they wanted injured parties to be fully compensated, and fully represented in their search for justice.