Mark Mitchell learned the hard way just what a trauma activation fee is. Last January, he crashed his bicycle and suffered some minor bruising on his elbow. He also fainted briefly, which the paramedics who treated him thought might be a sign of a concussion. They urged him to go to the hospital to get checked out by an ER doctor. The cost of his two-hour visit? Over $20,000.
Trauma Activation Fees Cause New Trauma
A large part of Mr. Mitchell’s bill was the so-called trauma activation fee. It came to $14,248 for the privilege of having a surgeon and an anesthesiologist called up on standby just in case he needed them (it turned out he didn’t). Unfortunately, these outrageous fees are perfectly legal and even if you have an attorney representing you, they can still be charged against you, especially if you have no insurance.
However, one thing that should be pointed out is that because these fees are anchored in law, you can sue for coverage of the fees when attempting to recover damages after a car accident or other kind of personal injury. Your attorney will be able to advise you on the specifics of this and can often arrange with the hospital to defer payment pending a judgment in your favor.
It’s also important to keep a close eye on how much you are actually charged. Jami Mayfield of Texas was involved in a minor car accident and was actually billed twice for the trauma activation fee (to the tune of $5,163). She was also billed for the ER fee ($3,444) on top of that. Again, these fees are perfectly legal though the double billing was not. Her attorney was able to help her get one of the fees removed. Whenever you are involved in a car accident, it’s important that you watch the fees carefully as well as consult with your attorney about all of your rights.