If you’re referring to medical bills, usually you are responsible for any medical bills during the pendency of a case. If you have health insurance or Medicare/Medicaid you will generally be treated by your healthcare provider, and the insurance provider will submit a lien against any settlement or verdict proceeds earned on your case. Generally, we can try to obtain a “two” part recovery for clients. After the proceeds of a settlement or verdict are split up meaning (client’s portion, attorney’s portion, and the portion owed to medical provider(s)), we can go after a treatment providers lien and attempt to renegotiate the amount.
Usually because the insurance company would pay a fraction of what the face value of a medical bill is, we leverage that information to your benefit during negotiations. By trying to renegotiate the medical bills it functions as if your settlement or verdict award was higher because less of that money is being used to pay the bloated value of most medical bills. We do this on every case and can significantly increase the amount of money being sent back to the client if we are successful.
If you’re referring to your living expenses due to an injury – this gets tricky. Illinois is not a State that allows an injury lawyer to “help” a client by loaning them money or by paying a client’s day to day expenses or medical bills directly. Some State’s do allow a lawyer to assist in such a capacity but in Illinois it is against the rules of professionalism for a variety of reasons.
What an injury lawyer CAN do, is try to find a solution for short term assistance that may be able to help with housing, or food/clothing assistance. It is not uncommon for us to speak with lenders for a client and to explain to them why payments won’t be coming in for a while. In some cases this has kept the wolves at bay from initiating legal actions to repossess vehicles or foreclose on homes, but it’s 100% on the creditor to make a decision on these issues all we can do is relay to them the situation the client is in.
In the worst case scenario a lawyer can try to assist a client in obtaining litigation funding where a loan is distributed to a client with a lien against the proceeds of a future verdict or settlement. This is 100% the last ditch option and should never be entered into lightly. We have had clients that treated this pipeline of funding as an avenue to getting their financial recovery “up front”, except that the available credit line based on the injury is pennies on the dollar for what someone is actually entitled to. This has resulted in some situations where a client may have obtained for example a $20,000.00 case loan from a lending company, and at the end of their case after medical bills are paid, and the attorney is paid, there may not be a distribution to the client because all of their proceeds are paying off the case loan and the interest that accrues against the loan while the case is pending. On the other side, a case loan and an interest rate running may influence a client’s decision on whether to settle or pursue a case in litigation through court. In the back of their mind if they know interest on a case loan is taking dollars out of their eventual recovery, and that the longer the loan is outstanding the more money they have to pay, there can be an outside influence that pushes a client to settle a claim when there could be a higher recovery by litigating the case in court.
This is not to say that case loans are not a unique tool to deploy in certain cases, it’s more of a cautionary tale that they should only be used in a last ditch effort to stave off a foreclosure, eviction, or repossession of a vehicle, or in some unique cases to obtain medical treatment not covered by insurance if it’s medically necessary for your physical recovery.