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After a dog bite, who pays that big medical bill?

They say there are seven levels of hell. If so, one couple might have just lived through two (or more) of those levels after their son suffered a serious dog bite.

The trauma of seeing their child in pain was followed by another distressing event: the arrival of the bill for the medical care the boy received.

The dog bite incident was far from La Crosse, but it's the kind of thing that happens far too often around here, too.

The New York state couple received a $4,200 bill for the care that fell through a gap in their medical insurance. Even though the emergency room where they took their 14-year-old accepts their insurance, the services of the plastic surgeon who closed the wound to the boy's ear were not covered.

"I don't think this is very fair," the mother of the boy said.

The mother had told her son to clean the muddy paws of the family's dog. The animal bit the boy's ear, causing a deep wound with substantial bleeding.

The family rushed to ER. A doctor there told the boy's father that the wound required the skills of the plastic surgeon; a surgeon who turned out to be "out of network." That means he's not in the insurance company's network of accepted providers and that insurance won't cover his work.

This is exactly the kind of problem that can make an already serious dog bite even worse. As if the physical pain and psychological trauma aren't enough, bite victims and their families can then have insurance nightmares that wind up costing thousands of dollars.

This is what makes the assistance of experienced legal help critical; someone who understands the legal system and knows how to get pet owners responsible for damages to pay medical bills and compensate victims for pain and suffering as well.

Source: "Dog bite brings $4,200 surprise -- New City family discovers doctor was out of network" by Laura Incalcaterra: Aug. 17, 2011

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