Let’s assume that you were injured in the following Long Island motorcycle accident. While riding your Harley within the speed limit, a car coming in the opposite direction made a left turn and struck your motorcycle (the car was at fault for causing your motorcycle accident); your ankle was broken and you were taken to a hospital where surgery was performed to repair your fractured ankle; the car that struck you was insured for $100,000, but your injury is worth $1.5 million.
Because of the seriousness of your injury, most lawyers can easily settle your motorcycle accident case for the entire $100,000 insurance policy covering the person responsible for causing your injuries. But there are other very important issues which can make the difference of whether you can get more than the $100,000 insurance policy and whether you can even get to keep all of your money!
How can you find out if the owner of the car that struck you as a million-dollar umbrella insurance policy? Sometimes the insurance company will tell you, but every lawyer has heard of one or more instances where an insurance company was later found to have lied about the existence of umbrella insurance. They have nothing to lose by lying. The only way to definitively find out if umbrella insurance exists is to search the national insurance company database which is not accessible to outsiders and lawyers. However, my investigator has access and provides me with a written report showing what was found.
Most motorcycle accidents involve serious injuries with medical bills in the range of $25,000-$150,000. Your medical bills will be paid either by your health insurance company, Medicare, Medicaid, or New York State and they will want to be reimbursed from your motorcycle accident settlement. This is the most complicated part of a motorcycle accident case involving issues that are not encountered in car accidents and are often unique to motorcycle accidents.
Some of these issues are peculiar to Long Island motorcycle accidents, especially a Suffolk County motorcycle accident where I may be able to refuse to pay medicaid liens. Many attorneys mistakenly settle medical liens in Suffolk County which may not be enforceable and pay too much to settle medical liens in Nassau and other New York counties. Some private health insurance plans are no longer allowed to assert a lien against your personal injury settlement from a Long Island motorcycle accident, but self funded ERISA health insurance plans can assert a lien and seek to be reimbursed from your settlement.
This is the part where I really earn my fee by trying to pay as little as possible from your settlement money to reimburse money paid for medical bills. Some lawyers settle medical liens for 66.66%, while some lawyers feel successful when they are able to settle medical liens for 50%. I try harder. While I must advise that past results cannot predict future results and facts differ from case to case, I have been successful in settling medical liens for 5% and even nothing at all. Below is a copy of a letter showing a medical lien settlement from Rawlings for $1,600 which is only 5% of the $32,000 hospital lien asserted by GHI. Additionally, I was able to get another $1,000 medical coverage for my client which was used to pay the medical lien settlement. The result is that I only had to deduct $600 from my client’s motorcycle accident settlement.
Very few attorneys know how to find an “umbrella” insurance policy that an insurance company is trying to hide and very few lawyers know how to protect your motorcycle accident case settlement money from medical liens.
Lawyers are often unfamiliar with the unique legal issues of a motorcycle accident case because there are far fewer motorcycle accidents then car accidents. Because many attorneys are unfamiliar with these issues, they often don’t want to represent bikers.
Motorcycle accidents are significantly different than car accidents for many reasons, but some of the most important reasons are that:
- Motorcycle injuries are much more serious and much more valuable than car accidents;
- Motorcycle injuries are usually worth much more than the insurance policy of the car that struck you;
- Motorcycle injuries usually have very large hospital and medical bills;
- Motorcyclists are not covered by no-fault insurance;
- Motorcycle accident cases are often subject to medical liens which, if not handled properly, can result in too much of your money paid to settle the lien.
Because a motorcycle injury is usually so much more serious than injuries suffered in a car accident, it’s vitally important for your lawyer to make sure that all available insurance policies are discovered, especially an “umbrella” insurance policy for $1 million or more. Insurance companies will usually quickly offer to settle this type of motorcycle accident case for the entire insurance policy. But, is that all you can get?
Because insurance companies have been known to lie about the existence of million dollar “umbrella” insurance, it is very difficult to find it when it exists. Most attorneys do not know how to positively determine if there is an umbrella insurance policy. I know how to find all available insurance policies including a million-dollar or nore umbrella insurance policy and I will provide you with a written report showing you what was found.
Underinsured & Uninsured Insurance
If the car which struck you, causing your motorcycle accident, has less liability insurance than you do, you will have a claim for underinsured coverage. This is not only one of the most important part of your motorcycle insurance coverage, but is very inexpensive. If the car which struck your motorcycle has no insurance or has fled and the identity of the car is unknown, you will have a claim for uninsured coverage. The limit of your uninsured coverage is usually the same as your underinsured coverage and should be the maximum you can buy. Because there is only a matter of days within which this type of claim can be made and it may not be possible to determine the need for the coverage within that time, a claim for these coverages should be made immediately with every motorcycle accident case.
The biggest problem is that when an injured biker receives medical treatment paid by an ERISA regulated private health insurance plan, Medicaid or NYS, a lien will be placed against your case to get paid back. If you were hospitalized with surgery, the medical lien will usually be between $30,000-$50,000. Lawyers often settle the medical lien for 50%-66% rather than fight with the insurance company’s lawyers, but that’s your money they’re paying!
The laws involving medical liens are very complicated. For instance, Medicaid liens in Suffolk County may be uncollectible. Recently, I settled a $32,000 collectible lien for only $1,600 and of that, only $600 came out of my client’s settlement (I am required to advise that past results do not predict future results).
A motorcycle accident attorney experienced with the issues in Long Island motorcycle accidents can make the difference of whether you have to pay a $35,000 medical lien out of your settlement or whether you get to keep your money.
Lack of No-Fault Insurance Coverage For Motorcycle Accidents
Lack of no-fault coverage can make it difficult for a biker to get medical treatment, which can seriously devalue the case. I know doctors who will provide medical treatment, MRIs and even surgery if you don’t have health insurance.
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident in Nassau or Suffolk County, LI or the NYC area, find out your rights and speak directly to Long Island Motorcycle Accident Attorney Phil Franckel.
Free telephone consultation with no obligation.
Free in-home consultation with no obligation.
Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is one of the Dream Team Partners at 1-800-HURT-911®; He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Mr. Franckel is well-known in New York for representing motorcyclists and created the motorcycle awareness campaign BE AWARE MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE®.