Category Archives: Accidents

Hospital Suing for Billing? How to Stop & Fight Hospital Bills

You just had a motorcycle accident. You go home from the ER at the hospital and you’re in pain. Now you’re in real pain when you receive a shocking hospital bill for $28,000!

If you don’t pay the hospital bill, the hospital may file a lawsuit and if you don’t hire a lawyer to defend you, the hospital’s lawyers will look to garnish your wages. But that doesn’t have to happen!

What Not to Do after a Motorcycle Accident

  1. Don’t limp home to avoid a bill for going to the hospital!
  2. Don’t ignore hospital bills, tell your accident lawyer immediately.
  3. If you get collection letters from the hospital, tell your accident lawyer immediately.
  4. If you are served with lawsuit papers from the hospital, tell your accident lawyer immediately!

Why Going Home to Avoid the Hospital Is a Bad Idea

We often have motorcycle accident clients who refuse to go to the hospital by ambulance and instead go home from the accident. This is a bad idea because:

  1. At the accident scene, you often won’t know how seriously injured you are because it can take up to 48 hours for pain to begin. Delaying diagnosis and treatment can cause more serious injuries and even death.
  2. Your accident case is worth more money and can settle faster if you go to the hospital by ambulance from the accident scene. We can deal with the hospital bill later and the driver who caused your accident will probably be responsible to pay it.
  3. Some motorcyclists had injuries more serious than they thought and had to go to the hospital anyway, either later that day or the next day.
  4. You’ll get into the hospital immediately when the ambulance brings you in. If you go on your own, you can sit in the waiting room for as long as 5-8 hours or more!

Why Hospital Bills Are Confusing

You may receive several different types of hospital bills

  • Summary bill
  • Itemized bill
  • Billing statement

You may receive different hospital bills from different billers

If you were only in the Emergency Room:

  • The hospital bill will include use of the emergency room and nursing services.
  • The radiology department may submit their own bill for x-rays and CT scans.
  • Doctors in the Emergency Room will each submit their own bill for physician services.*
  • You may receive an ambulance bill from the ambulance service.

If you were admitted to the hospital:

  • The hospital bill usually includes the ER room, room, food, nursing services, pharmacy, and operating room expenses. It may also include laboratory fees.
  • The radiology department will often submit their own bill for x-rays and CT scans.
  • Doctors who provide treatment will submit their own bill for physician services.*

*You may receive many separate invoices from hospital physicians like emergency room physicians, anesthesiologists, pathologists and radiologists. In addition to the cost of the x-ray or CT scan, the radiologist who reads your x-ray will send a bill for physician services for reading the scan.

Outpatient billing:

After you leave the hospital, you may see a doctor at a private office or you may go back to the hospital clinic to see a doctor. If you see a doctor at the hospital after you have left the hospital, the hospital will send you a separate bill for outpatient billing for physician services at the time of your appointment. You may also receive separate invoices for diagnostic tests, radiology, and lab fees.

Homecare:

If you need care at home after release from the hospital, you will receive a separate bill for services and/or products provided in the home, Including visiting nurses, home health aide, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapist or social worker, IV therapy and home medical equipment.

Why you don’t know what the hospital is billing you for

The hospital only sends you a Summary bill. They won’t send you an Itemized bill unless you request it. Even when you request it, they usually just send you another copy of the Summary bill. This happens to us all the time. The hospital doesn’t want you to see the Itemized bill because that’s what you’ll find out what they are really charging you for!

What hospitals don’t want you to see in their itemized bill

Hospitals are very creative with their billing and may charge fraudulent fees. The emergency room bill is sometimes reasonable but usually is not. Sometimes, we see a hospital billing $1,100 for the emergency room but we often see emergency room bills as much as $6,000-$28,000 when they should have been $1,100.

Hospital bills get real interesting when you are admitted. If you look at your itemized hospital bill, you may find that you have been charged hundreds of dollars of fraudulent charges for a disposable mucus recovery device (box of tissues) and/or thermal therapy (a bag of ice); oral administration fee (a nurse handing you pills); Etc.

What to Do When You Receive Hospital Bills

If you haven’t been injured in an accident and do not have an accident attorney, see Medical & Hospital Billing Errors at HURT911®

If you have been injured in an accident, call an accident lawyer immediately and ask if the lawyer will represent you for your hospital bill.

If we are representing you for your injuries, we will make sure that all collection efforts are stopped and if you are sued, we will represent you. We will have your hospital bill reviewed to negotiate a reduction. Call us now 7 days/nights for a free consultation at 1-800-HURT-911 1-800-487-8911.

If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident or any other type of accident, make sure your accident attorney knows that you are being billed by the hospital.

Why you should tell your accident lawyer about collection letters even if you have insurance

This is an example of what can happen when you don’t tell your accident lawyer that the hospital is sending you collection letters or suing you.

Our client broke a rib in a motorcycle accident and was taken to Winthrop Hospital by ambulance. The emergency room bill was $28,000 but our client had health insurance so he didn’t have to pay for the bill.

Unfortunately, the hospital was trying to bill his “no-fault” insurance for over a year but motorcyclists in New York do not have no-fault insurance so the hospital should have been billing his regular health insurance provided by his employer.

Our client ignored requests from the hospital to provide his insurance information and then later ignored letters from the hospital’s collection agency.

Eventually, the hospital filed a lawsuit against our client but our client never responded to the lawsuit and never notified us. The hospital got a default judgment against our client and garnished his salary. He didn’t even know the money was taken out of his checking account and checks for his car and apartment bounced. That’s when our client notified us!

We submitted his hospital bill to his health insurance company but they denied it because it was submitted to late.

Because our client was personally served with the hospital lawsuit papers, we could not reopen the lawsuit and the hospital was unwilling to negotiate the $28,000 hospital bill. The best we could do was to get the hospital to unfreeze his checking account and agree to wait until his motorcycle accident case was settled.

If our client had notified us of the collection letters, we could have stopped those letters and they probably would not have filed a lawsuit. Even if they did file a lawsuit, we could have fought it for him. We probably would have been able to settle the hospital bill for as little as $1,600 paid out of our client’s motorcycle accident settlement if our client had notified us of the collection letters.

What We Do to Stop Collection

We will immediately send a letter to the collection agency advising the collection agency that we represent you and to stop contacting you.

What We Do to Fight Hospital Bills

We can have your hospital bills reviewed by a hospital billing review service to remove fraudulent charges, unnecessary charges and overcharges. See the hospital bill cost review report and the settlement letter for the example case below.

Example of a hospital bill we settled:

Hospital: NYU Winthrop University Hospital
Collection Agency: POM Recoveries
Amount of ER Hospital Bill: $6,676.99
Report of Hospital Bill Review Showed the reasonable amount to be: $1,667.20
Settlement With Collection Agency: $1,152
Motorcycle accident case settled for client: $100,000
Legal Fee: $33,333.33
Net Amount to Client After Legal Fee: $66,666.67
Amount Client Would Have Received If the Hospital Bill Was Paid: $59,989.68
Cost of Hospital Bill Review Report: $500
Amount Client Received Because the Hospital Bill Was Reduced: $65,014.67
Amount We Saved Our Client: $5,024.99
See the Hospital Collection Agency Settlement Letter

What about Doctor Bills For Medical Treatment after the Hospital?

If you have a motorcycle accident and don’t have medical insurance, that’s not a problem. We can ask your doctor to bill you on a “lien”.

This means that we will pay the doctor at the end of your accident case from your settlement money. You’ll be able to get the medical treatment you need and you won’t have to worry about making payments or receiving collection letters!

Do Biker Lawyers Represent Club Members?

We represent motorcycle club members and 1% members but we don’t know if other motorcycle lawyers do.

If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you’re entitled to just compensation for your injuries. We don’t ask if you’re a 1% member. If you decide to tell us or we find out, that’s okay. We gladly represent everyone and represent 1% members and motorcycle police officers.

We have only two goals:

  1. Prove the driver was 100% at fault for causing your accident and injuries.
  2. Obtain the most amount of money as compensation that we can get for you.

Apparently, some “biker” lawyers don’t want to associate with motorcycle club members. According to a press release by the Motorcycle Profiling Project, a well-known franchise of national motorcycle injury lawyers are not really club friendly.

In the press release, entitled “Don’t Support Two Faced ‘Biker’ Attorneys“, the Motorcycle Profiling Project wrote,

“Motorcycle club members are a very valuable resource for motorcycle accident attorneys. Regardless of private entities such as Law Tigers legal right to restrict employees expression rights [against associating with motorcycle clubs], motorcycle club members and motorcycle rights advocates have a choice when they are the unfortunate victims of an accident.”

“But not all all motorcycle attorneys walk the walk.”

Whether you’re a member of a 1% club or any other motorcycle club, we’ll treat you with the respect and dignity you deserve and should expect. We don’t hide our attitude. Suffolk County Police and other agencies have taken our photos together with 1% members.

See what you can do to help stop motorcycle profiling.

Call Attorneys Phil Franckel and Rob Plevy for a free consultation
Days/Nights/Weekends at 1-800-HURT-911 | 1-800-487-8911

 

Why Wasn’t The Driver Arrested?

Why wasn’t the driver charged with a crime? Two possible reasons

  1. There wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove a crime was committed; or
  2. The driver violated a section of the NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law which is a violation but not a crime (see below).

Far too frequently, motorcyclists are killed because a driver wasn’t paying attention and we have been asked by grieving family, “Why wasn’t the driver arrested?”

Unfortunately, family members don’t seem to get an adequate explanation from police detectives. This article will provide an explanation for those family members who have not called us.

Insufficient Evidence

When a crime was or may have been committed, there may not be enough evidence for the district attorney to prove guilt. It is unethical for the district attorney to prosecute if they don’t believe there is enough evidence to obtain a conviction.

For instance, a) a driver may have been drunk but the alcohol test was taken too late so it didn’t show the driver was drunk; b) the driver was on drugs but was only given a breathalyzer; c) the police officer didn’t have probable cause; or one of many other reasons.

The Driver Committed a Violation

The driver may have made an illegal U-turn or passed a stop sign or red light but just because it’s illegal that doesn’t mean it’s a crime. A misdemeanor or felony is a crime but running a stop sign or red light is a violation which is a lesser offense. A violation is not a crime.

If a driver didn’t see the motorcycle when making a left turn, the driver “failed to yield” which is not a crime but a violation of the New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law.

Whether or not a crime has been committed, the family/estate of the deceased motorcyclist can bring a civil lawsuit for wrongful death seeking money damages and punitive damages against the people and or companies responsible for causing the motorcyclist’s death.

We are often successful in proving a violation of the New York State Vehicle & Traffic Law by filing a motion for summary judgment which requests an order of the court ruling that the driver is 100% responsible for causing the motorcycle accident and provides 9% interest on any amount awarded.

There are some motorcycle accidents where the police do not file charges but could have. In some situations, we can help to bring pressure upon the police and District Attorney’s Office to file charges against the driver responsible for causing the death of a motorcyclist. Please call us 7 days/nights/weekends for a free consultation at 1-800-HURT-911 | 1-800-487-8911.

Vehicular Crimes

A violation such as speeding is not a crime, however, there are situations which can elevate a motorcycle accident to a criminal offense, either a misdemeanor or felony, for causing the death of a motorcyclist.

The two most common vehicular crimes in New York are vehicular assault and vehicular manslaughter.

Situations which can result in the arrest and prosecution of the driver causing a motorcycle accident:

Hit and Run —

When a driver leaves the scene of an accident (without exchanging identification, insurance and contact information) causing only property damage, it is a misdemeanor. When a driver leaves the scene of an accident causing injury, it is a felony. Usually, an arrest is not made where a driver leaves the scene of the accident and returns to the accident scene.

DUI / DWI / DWAI —

If a driver causes the death of a motorcyclist while intoxicated with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher or impaired by drugs, the driver will likely face serious felony charges including aggravated vehicular assault, criminally negligent homicide, vehicular manslaughter, murder in the second degree and jail or prison time (jail is for sentences of up to one year while prison is for sentences over one year).

The New York Department of Motor Vehicles lists penalties for an alcohol or drug-related violation. We believe the penalties are not severe enough.

We believe it’s time to treat a death caused by an intoxicated or impaired driver the same as Assault in the First Degree which (for a person with no criminal history) has a sentence of a mandatory minimum of 5 years and a maximum of up to 25 years. If you agree, send a letter to your county legislators, New York State Senators and the governor.

Reckless Driving —

The important and difficult question to ask and answer is what conduct constitutes reckless driving and what “unreasonably” means in the statute quoted below. I will not attempt to answer that question here but as an example, speeding at 10 mph over the speed limit would not constitute reckless driving while driving at 100 mph would constitute reckless driving.

It is unlawful for a driver to drive in a manner that may endanger another person. Reckless driving in New York means driving “in a manner which unreasonably interferes with the free and proper use of the public highway, or unreasonably endangers users of the public highway.” Every person found to be driving recklessly shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail. (Vehicle and Traffic Law §1212).

A person is guilty of aggravated vehicular homicide when he or she engages in reckless driving and commits the crime of vehicular manslaughter in the second degree as defined by NY Penal Law §1212.

If you were a victim of a crime, you may be able to obtain compensation through a lawsuit but you can also file a claim with the New York State Office of Victim Services.

Call us 7 days/nights/weekends for a free consultation at 1-800-HURT-911 | 1-800-487-8911.

Be Aware Potholes Are Everywhere

March will soon be here. The mix of nice weather, potholes and sand is a deadly mix for motorcyclists. If you can, don’t start riding until May. If you can’t wait, watch for potholes and sand on curved areas of the roadway during March, April and May. Even May can be dangerous as you will see in the case below.

Every year, we get calls from motorcyclists hurt after hitting potholes or riding over sand left behind by snowplows. But for most of these accidents motorcyclists will not be able to obtain compensation from a lawsuit.

Municipalities have a prior written notice law which excuses them from liability unless they had prior written notice of the pothole or their workers caused the pothole. But it gets worse!

In Wilson v. Incorporated Village of Hempstead (120 A.D.3d 665), two witnesses who lived on the street where the motorcycle accident occurred phoned the Village because the pothole was so severe. The Village repaired the pothole, yet the patch quickly fell apart and the pothole reappeared. When a motorcyclist hit the pothole on April 30, the pothole “was in the same condition” as it was before the repair.

The Village Department of Public Works, stated that in March they only make temporary “cold patch repairs” of potholes and permanent repairs are done during warm weather.

First, the court ruled that oral notice, including by telephone or voicemail, is not prior written notice, even if it was then written by the village employee!

Second, the court ruled that the Village did not create the pothole when the patch failed because a municipality’s repair must immediately result in a dangerous condition and make the defective condition more dangerous than it was before the repair.

Although the pothole patch failed, the pothole wasn’t immediately dangerous and wasn’t more dangerous than it was before the repair. The plaintiff’s case was dismissed and he recovered nothing for his injuries.

In the case of Smith v. Town of Brookhaven (45 A.D.3d 567), the operator of a motor scooter was hurt when he hit a pothole. His lawyer hired an engineer who reported that failure to maintain a storm drain caused the street to constantly flood, freeze, thaw, and erode, eventually causing the pothole. On appeal, the court ruled that the pothole formed as a result of wear and tear and environmental factors and was not an act of negligence. The Town of Brookhaven was held not liable for the injuries.

It should also be noted that where proper prior written notice of a pothole is given, the written notice must identify the specific location of the pothole whether there is one pothole or many potholes on the street (Sheikh v. City of New York 53 Misc.3d 1214(A)).

Finally, don’t hit a pothole!

How do you protect yourself from cagers?

What’s a cager?

According to Urbandictionary.com, a cager is “a popular word among motorcyclists and bicyclists for four wheeled motor vehicle drivers. The term is often used in a derogative sense, because the car body effectively forms a cage, isolating the said driver from having to interact with other road users.”

Simply, cagers don’t see motorcycles.  Aside from motorcycle awareness campaigns and being on the lookout for cagers, the only other way you can protect yourself is financially with insurance coverage that insures you.

How to protect yourself from drivers who don’t see motorcycles

We registered the website name www.CagerProtection.com where you can find out how to protect yourself.  We give out Cager Protection.com cards and recently gave them out at FullThrottle Magazine’s Bike Night and at a Long Island ABATE meeting.

We are constantly trying to get the word out to motorcyclists about inexpensive underinsured coverage and it’s starting to work.

Four clients injured in motorcycle accidents

We have four new motorcycle accident clients in the last four days. All of them were hit by drivers that never saw the motorcycle.

One of those clients in Queens heard about underinsured coverage from a friend who was a previous client of ours and he purchased $300,000 underinsured coverage. The car which hit him, has $100,000 insurance coverage. Our client can now obtain another $200,000 from his own insurance company.

The second of the four clients in Nassau, had $25,000 uninsured coverage with no underinsured coverage. He has injuries worth at least $500,000 and the car which hit him has only $100,000 coverage.

The third client in Brooklyn has $25,000 uninsured coverage and was hit by an unknown car which fled the scene, so that’s all he can get even though his injury is worth a lot more.

The fourth client in Suffolk has a leg injury worth well over $1 million.  He has no underinsured coverage, but he’s lucky because he got hit by a car owned by a large corporation which will be responsible for the entire value of his injury.

What to do before you have a motorcycle accident

Before you ride again, please take a look at www.CagerProtection.com.

If you have any questions about your insurance coverage, please feel free to call Phil Franckel, Esq. 7 days/nights to discuss it for free at 1-800-487-8911.

If you’re involved in an accident, even if another lawyer doesn’t think you have a case, call us immediately for a free consultation.

May is Motorcycle Awareness Month — what to be aware of

While efforts to raise awareness of motorcycles on the road may help to avoid some accidents, you probably see drivers not paying attention every time you’re on the road. We see the problem every time we get a new client.

May is a good time to review your underinsured insurance coverage. Read my article in last month’s issue of Full Throttle Magazine “How much underinsured coverage do I need”. Have a question about insurance coverage, just call us and will be happy to help you out.

With so many drivers not paying attention, the most important part of awareness is that of the motorcyclist. Motorcyclists need to assume that every driver doesn’t see them.

The single most important time to be aware of drivers is when you see a car about to make a left turn. The vast majority of our motorcycle accident cases involve a car making a left turn. In every one of these cases, the driver just didn’t see the motorcycle.

Motorcycle accidents involving cars making a left turn include:

  • Cars coming from the opposite direction making a left turn in front of you
  • Cars coming out of a parking lot
  • Cars coming out of a side street
  • Cars coming out of a driveway

Although we have motorcycle accident cases where a motorcycle was hit in the rear or sideswiped, these four types of left turn accidents seem to make up the bulk of our law practice.

Consequently, until left turns are banned or technology in cars takes over, the single most important driver to look for is the one about to make a left turn!

We’ve been helping raise awareness of motorcycles on the road with our campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®.  Every year, we give out lawn signs, bumper stickers, magnetic bumper stickers and large magnetic car signs. Look for our signs at motorcycle events or just ask Lee at Full Throttle Magazine.

Look for our motorcycle awareness billboards in May at Costco in Melville/Farmingdale and Westbury displaying BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®.

When a Police Officer said a hit & run accident was your fault

Robin Stissi was seriously hurt when she hit a guardrail on an exit ramp leading from Nichols road to the Long Island Expressway. There was no identification of another vehicle on the police report and the police officer indicated the accident was Robin’s fault.

We filed an uninsured claim for a hit-and-run accident with Robin’s insurance company which denied the claim saying she was not hit by a car. (You should never say you were “cut off” because contact with another vehicle is required in hit and run accidents)

We demanded an arbitration and they tried to obtain a court order permanently stopping us from proceeding to arbitration. However, we won the right to have a hearing in Suffolk County Supreme Court to determine whether a car hit Robin.

The insurance company had three witnesses testify in court at the hearing, the police officer and two drivers. But we showed that the police officer was not believable and that the two drivers did not see the accident occur.

When I spoke with the police officer prior to his testimony, he was very nice to me but had an obvious problem with our client and was very emotional about it. I still don’t understand exactly why he was so emotional but it appeared to me that he had a problem with motorcyclists and we used that to our advantage when cross-examining him.

The police officer testified at the hearing that Robin told him she lost control of her motorcycle on the sand but the supposed statement was not on the police report. In fact, the police report indicated for Robin “NO STATEMENT DUE TO INJURIES”. We also got the police officer to admit that he did not see any sand.

One witness stated on the police report that she saw Robin hit the guard rail and did not see another car. The other witness stated that on the road before the exit ramp, “I saw her let go of the bike and hands out to the sides in a flying motion”. The witnesses testified at the hearing to the same information they provided on the police report.

But our investigator previously obtained written statements from the witnesses about what they saw including the fact that both witnesses lost sight of Robin on the exit ramp and neither witness saw the accident occur. They only saw events leading up to the accident and after the accident.

While we showed that the police officer’s testimony was not believable and that the witnesses did not see the accident occur, Robin’s testimony was detailed, in agreement with the two drivers, and extremely believable. The judge did not believe the police officer and ruled that he found Robin was struck by a hit and run car. Her insurance company immediately paid the claim.

Robin Stissi provided permission to use her name in this article.

If you’re involved in an accident, call us immediately for a free consultation.

If you have a question or would just like to say hello, please call Phil Franckel at 1-800-HURT-911

Potholes

Every year, we get calls during March, April and sometimes in May from experienced motorcyclists hurt after hitting a pothole or riding over sand left behind by snowplows.

Of course, you can hit a pothole anytime of year. We even got a call from the family of someone who was tragically killed in September when her motorcycle hit a pothole on the Parkway.

At the Long Island ABATE meeting in Suffolk last month, I made an announcement to remind people to watch for potholes and sand on curved areas of the roadway during March and April if they don’t want to put off riding until May.

Tragically, David Decarle died at Peconic Bay Medical Center after his motorcycle hit a pothole in Riverhead on March 17.

This year, the roads will likely be bad even through the month of May. If you can, don’t start riding until at least May.

Motorcyclists who call us usually say they don’t think there’s anything they can do but call to find out if there is any possibility of a lawsuit. It’s good that people call us to find out because in some situations, it may be possible.

Motorcyclists will not not be able to obtain compensation from a lawsuit for most of these accidents because usually no one is at fault. However, there are circumstances in which a company or government can be sued for negligence. One of the best types of negligence is where a government or company work crew created the condition which caused the pothole.

If you had any kind of motorcycle accident, always call us for a free consultation.
1-800-HURT-911
1-800-487-8911

Be Careful When Riding Past a Car Wash

The first time, I thought it was unusual when I got a call from a motorcyclist who was riding past a car wash and crashed when the motorcycle skidded on the slippery roadway.

Then I got a second call for the same type of accident while riding past a car wash. We have represented several motorcyclists who had accidents when riding past a car wash.

Water and soap running into the roadway can make it slippery. However, two of the accidents were caused by employees at the car wash using a chemical to make tires shine. The employees were using the chemical at the end of the driveway right by the street. The chemical was tracked into the street.

I mentioned this problem to Greg Sheridan of Full Throttle Magazine New York and he told me about a similar problem he had on a slippery area when riding past the driveway of someone who was selling cars out of his house.

Allowing the discharge of chemicals and wastewater is a violation of law. When a law written to improve safety is violated, it may be possible to have the court rule that the car wash is negligent without asking a jury to make the determination as to whether a reasonable person would do the same thing. This is called negligence per se.

After a quick look on Google, I found someone who skidded and crashed after leaving a motorcycle wash where he washed the motorcycle himself. He was at least a block away when the accident happened. It’s possible that he didn’t fully rinse the soap off and didn’t fully dry his motorcycle. Take a look at the video

If your motorcycle skids on soap or oil left by someone or a business, we’ll obtain the evidence needed to prove how negligence caused your motorcycle accident.
Call 1-800-487-8911 for a free consultation

May is Motorcycle Awareness Month at Costco

May was designated Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  Most state governors and other organizations now proclaim May as Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month.

We’ve been helping raise awareness of motorcycles on the road with our campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®.

Last year, we gave out lawn signs and bumper stickers. This year, we’re also giving out magnetic bumper stickers and large magnetic car signs.

We also purchased billboards in the 5 Suffolk and Nassau Costco warehouse stores which will be displayed in the month of May.

Look for our billboards at LI Costco stores in May

Motorcycle Awareness Billboard at Costco