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As of Monday 28th August this year, a minor change to the way medical compensations are awarded has now become law. While any personal injury lawsuits filed before this date are expected to be ruled as per the law when they were actioned, any new cases will be set to the new rules.
Explaining the new changes
Compensation packages are split into two distinct sections when the amounts are awarded, compensatory and punitive awards. The compensation portion of an award is designed to reflect an accurate financial repayment to cover any costs incurred by the defendant through the accident.
Under new guidelines, all medical costs must be determined by either the total amount already paid to a hospital, the total amount outstanding to a hospital or where appropriate, a combination of the two.
Under previous laws, the sum awarded for medical costs was always the amount which was originally invoiced by the hospital. Because this figure could potentially move after the lawsuit was settled, the new changes are sought to align the awarded cost to that of the actual cost of injury to provide a more precise reflection within the settlement.
Perceived problems of this change
For many people who are injured in a MVA and require medical attention, medical bills are often something which needs to be settled before a lawsuit is resolved. This means that the bills must be paid prior to receiving your compensation.
For many people on low incomes or without adequate savings, this can be a major problem. This is also something which can be further exasperated by a loss of income due to the injuries received.
To aid people in this situation, submitting your medical bills through a group health insurance plan has the option to help. Part of this includes the insurance group and the hospital agreeing to a negotiated fee plan. This has the benefit of both reducing the overall size of the bill and the insurer covering any upfront costs.
While this is being cited as an attempt to simplify the overall system which governs how compensation packages are calculated, many believe it will cause ripples throughout the current system for little actual benefit.
With any financial changes that hospitals and insurance companies are faced with, there is often a knock-on effect to the amount which customers are charged. As yet, it remains to be seen whether there will be an increase in medical costs or insurance premiums to absorb any financial losses they could face.
All other elements of a compensation package including the cost of repairs, loss or earning, emotional, pain and suffering payments, and punitive damages will remain untouched.
If you’ve recently suffered an injury from a car accident in the State of Missouri and are worried about how these changes will affect you, contact a competent law office immediately.
Brad Richardson enjoys writing about legal and law issues. He’s a regular contributor to numerous websites regarding important issues within the legal industry. The Bruning personal injury law firm who are based in St. Louis and specialize in both MVA and personal injury cases.