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Use Care Signing Treatment Authorization Forms

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s question comes from a client who encountered language in a medical care provider’s treatment authorization form that shocked him.

This client simply wanted to get medical care following a car crash.  Many people do not even read what they are asked to sign.

This client read the form, and it seemed that he was being asked to sign away his legal rights in exchange for getting treatment.  And, it appeared that it was all because he was in a car crash.

What we found when we analyzed the form was that the care provider planned to accept insurance if the patient injured a leg playing volleyball, but REJECT insurance if the patient’s leg was injured in a car crash.

Here is the type of language we are talking about:

I authorize and instruct my attorney, to pay directly to my provider money owed for medical services rendered to me in consequence of this occurrence and withhold money from any settlement, judgment, or verdict to protect said provider.  I further give a lien on my case against all proceeds of any settlement, judgment, or verdict paid due to the injuries for which I have been treated.

Here is the problem in a nutshell.  Any provider who inserts such language into treatment authorization paperwork when they know there is available insurance to pay for treatment is laying a trap against the unsuspecting signer.

We suggest that anyone confronted with this kind of language consult an attorney before signing.

We understand that it’s sometimes not practical to do because the person is faced with the language at the facility.  The pressure of needing treatment can make one reluctant to walk out until they have a chance to talk to an attorney.

But being asked to sign something that signs away your rights before you get treatment should be a red flag that the provider really does not have your best interests in mind.

Even if you sign, you can always ask for a copy of what you signed.  Then you and your attorney may choose to write a letter that sets the record straight as to billing and how you’re going to pay for services.

Since our economy is not as resilient as it once was.  We suspect this language has appeared because some providers want to cover every angle to make a scarce dollar.

Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with someone being paid a fair wage for their services.  But some providers will decline available insurance payments because they do not like the lower fee insurance pays them.

Let’s say a provider bills $500 for a service.  Insurance may, by agreement, pay the provider $50, despite the $500 charge.  Keep in mind that the provider agreed with an insurance company to take the lower amount.

It can be enticing to decline insurance payments and convince a customer to sign a paper to pay the $500 charge out of a lawsuit recovery.

Most attorneys are happy to help a client figure out how to pay for treatment in a fair way that uses all of their insurance resources available to pay for treatment.

I hope you found this information helpful.  If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions.  You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”