Victim In Head-On Collision Asks Judge To Divide Insurance Payouts Among Medical Providers

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A passenger severely injured in a 2017 head-on collision in rural Cochise County has asked a judge to decide how to split $113,000 in insurance settlements among several medical providers who have billed her for more than $440,000.

Patricia Acosta and several co-workers were riding in a vehicle on Aug. 18, 2017 when the driver, Sotero V. Altamirano, ran into vehicle on U.S. Highway 191 near the communities of Cochise and Pearce. Acosta was airlifted from the scene to Banner UMC in Tucson at a cost of more than $48,000.

Once at Banner UMC, Acosta was hospitalized for more than three weeks, racking up a bill for $292,757. She also incurred another $101,000 in bills for surgeons and other medical care, bringing her total expenses to $443,911.

Acosta received only $113,074 from claims against the insurance policies of both drivers. As that represents only one-fourth of her medical costs, Acosta wants Judge Timothy Dickerson of the Cochise County Superior Court to hold a hearing to determine how the funds should be distributed to the multiple creditors.

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Dickerson could also appoint a special court officer to meet privately with the parties to resolve the matter. The judge can also order the medical providers to accept whatever payment is authorized in the case.

The creditors have not yet filed their answers to Acosta’s filing. Any hearing would likely take place in early 2021.

Altamirano, now 48, pleaded guilty in November 2018 to driving under the influence of a cocaine metabolite, recklessly endangering the other driver, and possession of cocaine in connection to the accident.

He was ordered to spend 90 days in the Cochise County jail -which he served on weekends- and must complete three years of probation which commenced January 2019.