If you've recently suffered major injuries due to someone else's negligent or reckless behavior, you may already be gathering the information and documentation needed to file a personal injury lawsuit. Even if you have a relatively open and shut case, the legal process can take months or even years to resolve in a judgment in your favor, and you may run into further difficulties when it comes time to collect your judgment. What options are available to help you cover ordinary living expenses and medical costs incurred after a major injury? Will you be forced into bankruptcy, or can you remain afloat? Read on to learn more about some of the funding options available to you during the time your personal injury lawsuit is moving through the courts.
What options do you have to pay your everyday expenses while recuperating from an injury?
Whether your injury affects eyesight, mobility, or cognition, you could find yourself too injured to drive to work or to perform work once at your job site. Once you've exhausted your paid time off, you could find yourself losing income (even if your job itself is preserved by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA)). You may also have higher expenses, particularly if you've spent some time in the hospital and your family members are staying in hotel or eating meals outside the home during the time you're incapacitated.
While federal disability benefits aren't available for injuries that resolve themselves relatively quickly, if you find yourself facing something that can prevent you from working for nearly a year (or longer), it could be a good idea to go ahead and file for benefits. If your claim for benefits is approved, you'll lose the first 5 months of back pay -- so if you've only been disabled for 6 months at the time your application is approved, you'll receive a month of benefits before your regular checks begin arriving. If you've been disabled for a year at the time your application is approved, you'll receive a lump sum that covers 7 months of benefits. These disability benefits can be used to cover everything from rent to groceries to other living expenses, and you'll continue to receive them for as long as your injury leaves you unable to hold down full-time, gainful employment.
How can you pay for the medical expenses incurred due to your injury?
If you're beginning to receive a flurry of medical bills relating to your post-injury care, you may become stressed at the thought of having to pay these bills without a court judgment in place. Failing to pay these bills in a timely manner could damage your credit or force you into bankruptcy, even if there's a pending lawsuit that promises to cover medical costs.
Fortunately, there exist medical funding companies that can help pay outstanding medical bills and even fund future care in exchange for a stake in your pending lawsuit. These companies will agree to provide you with a lump sum based on the amount you can be expected to collect from the individual or business you're suing. In exchange, you'll sign over a percentage of the total recovery to this organization. If your lawsuit is unsuccessful, you won't be required to repay this company for any of the care you've received.
While this can be a great option to ensure you receive the care you need, you'll want to be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. If your personal injury lawsuit is already pending, it's likely that the attorney who has assisted you in filing the lawsuit is being paid on a contingency fee arrangement. This means that a specific percentage of any amount you eventually recover from the defendant is the property of your attorney, even if the judgment is in your name. You don't want to agree to hand over to a medical funding company a higher percentage of the lawsuit than that to which you're already entitled. Be sure to carefully review your fee arrangement with your attorney before signing over a portion of any court judgment to a medical funding company.