Unfortunately, the answer to the title question is yes. If you fail to pay your medical bills, the physicians, hospitals and other medical providers undoubtedly will send your bills to collection agencies. Once any debt goes to a collection agency, it negatively impacts your credit score. Depending on the size of the debt, your credit score may go down by anywhere from 50 to 100 points.
The good news is that back in 2015, the three main credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Transunion, agreed to wait 180 days before reporting medical debt. If you sustained your injuries in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing and are waiting for an insurance settlement or jury award to pay your medical bills, this 6-month time frame gives you and your personal injury lawyer in Rapid City, SD, like from The Law Office of Clayborne, Loos & Sabers, LLP, a grace period in which to attempt to conclude your case.
Given that serious personal injury cases often fail to conclude within six months, however, this grace period may not do you much good. Nevertheless, you have other options.
It goes without saying that your wisest course of action after becoming involved in an accident that results in your injuries is to contact an experienced local personal injury attorney. He or she may well be able to convince your medical providers to wait for payment of their respective bills until you receive compensation by way of an insurance settlement or jury award. Often a letter written on his or her letterhead and sent to your medical providers informing them that you have filed a lawsuit and are awaiting compensation is sufficient to forestall their turning your unpaid bills over to collection agencies.
Another common option is to tell your attorney that he or she can allow your medical providers to take out liens on your ultimate settlement or jury award in the amounts of their respective unpaid bills. This secures their ultimate payments, no matter how long it may take you to get your money, and ensures that your attorney will pay these bills “off the top” of your compensation before taking his or her fee and then sending you the balance.
Also keep in mind that most personal injury attorneys charge a contingent fee for the work they do on your case. What this means is that you pay no up-front attorney’s fee. Rather, your attorney will draft an employment contract between you and him or her setting forth the percentage of your ultimate settlement or jury award he or she will charge you. Common percentages range from 20% to 50% depending on whether or not your case goes to trial.