Handle bills before case is resolved

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsIt is important that you deal with all of the outstanding health-care bills before your case is resolved. Most contingency fee agreements make clear that any such unpaid bills are your responsibility. The lawyer will negotiate those he or she knows about, and often is able to reduce them. But if the lawyer is not aware of an outstanding bill, and it is presented for payment after the settlement is done, you likely will be the one stuck dealing with it. Q: We’re in a heated civil case over ownership of a real property. Somewhere along the way the other side insists that portions of our tax returns must be turned over, but we consider those returns highly private and confidential. Will they actually get our returns? A: It is quite doubtful they will get your returns or even portions of them, unless you have put tax issues squarely in issue (for example, you sue your accountant for malpractice). If it is a case where you are likely to be assessed punitive damages, then maybe tax returns, or some portion of them, might be available. Tax returns, legally, are most often considered confidential, private and privileged. There is quite a bit of case law in California to support objections to turning over any portions of tax returns in the usual civil action. – B.L., Torrance Question: I was badly injured in an automobile accident, and the largest part of my treatment has been physical therapy. The charges are high, but the physical therapist is working on a lien – just how does this play out? Answer: A number of health-care providers work on liens associated with personal injury cases. This may include physical therapists, and chiropractors and some physicians. You and your attorney no doubt signed a lien agreement with the physical therapist which indicates you remain personally liable for the bills, but that payment is to be made from your recovery in the case. The physical therapist asserts a lien on those settlement funds. For all intents and purposes, so, too, does your attorney whose contingent fee is paid as a percentage of the recovery. Most physical therapy liens are negotiable. It is not unusual, at least in my experience, that the reduction in the physical therapy bills will equal the percentage of payment to the lawyer (e.g., one-third of the gross recovery pays the lawyer fees, and, in turn, the physical therapist reduces his or her bill by one-third). – R.C., Glendale Basic court forms for free The California Judicial Council publishes multiple, basic court forms online that you can print for free. Go to www.courtinfo.ca.gov/forms/ – it is easy to click on to a form group and choose from the clear list of categories available. Ron Sokol is a Manhattan Beach-based attorney with 29 years of experience who has arbitrated and mediated many cases. E-mail questions and comments to him at RonSEsq@aol.com. This column summarizes the law, and does not substitute for legal consultation.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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