All too often, injured workers come to me after a work injury and tell me that their employer sent them to the “company’s doctor.”
At first, the employer appears to be doing the injured worker a big favor by sending them to a doctor. But, if the worker’s injury doesn’t get better within a short amount of time that initial doctor selection by the employer and its workers compensation insurance company can have bad consequences for the injured worker. The reason for this is the potential conflict of interest of the employer, its workers compensation insurance company and injured worker. The conflict arises between an employer and its workers compensation insurance company that want to contain claim costs and an injured worker who simply wants to get better.
Springtime in South Dakota begins the motorcycle riding season. Unfortunately, with the increase in riding comes accidents that injure riders and passengers. The South Dakota Department of Public Safety reported that motorcycles account for 7.6% of the motor vehicles registered in South Dakota yet represent 17.5% of the total deaths in accidents and 2.6% of accidents on South Dakota roadways. The most common injury in motorcycle accident occurs to the rider or passenger’s legs, ankles and feet. This is followed closely by upper extremity and head injuries in frequency.
Following your injury, your automobile insurance and/or your health insurance carrier may have paid medical bills on your behalf. And now you are in a position to settle with the opposing insurance company for your bodily injury claim (which will include payment to you for your medical bills incurred). When you eventually settle your bodily injury claim with the responsible insurance company, you are responsible to pay back your auto insurance company and/or health insurance company the amount they paid towards your medical bills. Insurance companies have a legal right to be paid back for the amount they paid towards your medical bills. This obligation to pay back your insurance companies is referred to as “subrogation” or right to be paid back.
So, you’ve just been injured in a motor vehicle accident that wasn’t your fault and medical bills are mounting. Does the other party’s automobile insurance have to pay your medical bills right away? The answer is actually no. At least not until you are able to get a settlement or a judgment against the other party making them legally liable to pay the bills. Even if the accident was clearly not your fault – because any party may deny they are at fault for causing an accident or even that you were injured – they are not automatically legally liable to pay your medical bills.