Being injured in an accident because of someone else’s actions can be overwhelming. If you suffered serious injuries in an accident that was not your fault, you might wonder how you will pay your medical bills. In fault states for car accidents like California, the other driver will normally be responsible for paying your medical bills. In no-fault states like Florida, however, the rules may be different. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will not pay your medical bills as they are accrued. It can take months or a couple of years to reach a settlement with the other driver’s insurance company. Meanwhile, your doctors and the health care facilities where you receive treatment will want to be paid immediately. If you cannot pay, your bills could be sent to collections.
If you have Medicaid, Medicare, or health insurance, you should send your medical bills to your health insurance provider. If your auto insurance coverage includes medical payments coverage, you can also use it to be reimbursed for your out-of-pocket expenses after your health insurance has paid for your care. You can also file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover damages for your medical and other losses. Finally, if the other driver was uninsured or has inadequate coverage to pay for your medical expenses, you can file a claim with your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Here is an overview of how to get your medical bills paid after your car accident.
If you have health insurance, you should definitely use it to help to pay the costs of medical treatment for your car accident injuries. Some doctors might tell you that they don’t file claims with health insurance for car accidents. If that occurs, continue to tell them to send your medical bills to your health insurance company. Using your health insurance can ensure that your health care providers are paid while also keeping you from being sent to collections.
Some people hesitate to submit medical bills to their health insurance companies after a car accident when the injuries were caused by other people. However, you or your employer pay monthly premiums for your coverage so that your medical bills will be paid. You should use your coverage to pay for your medical expenses so that you can recover.
Keep in mind that when you use medical insurance to pay your medical bills after a car accident, your insurance company has the right to subrogate any settlement or award that you might receive in a personal injury case. Subrogation means that the insurance company can seek to be reimbursed out of any award or settlement that you receive. If you do not receive a settlement or award in a personal injury action, however, the insurance company cannot come after you to seek reimbursement for what it paid for your care. Under Cal. Civ. Code § 3040, your insurance company cannot seek more than the reasonable costs it actually paid for your care. Under the decision in Progressive West Ins. Co. v. Yolo County Superior Court, 135 Ca.4th 263 (2005), California also follows the made whole doctrine. Under this doctrine, your insurer cannot take money from your settlement or verdict award until you have been made whole. In some cases, an attorney might be able to negotiate with the insurance company to reduce the amount of reimbursement.
Medical payments coverage
Another potential source for paying your medical bills after your car accident is medical payments coverage. This is an optional coverage that you can add to your automobile insurance policy. If you have this type of coverage, you can use it to help pay for your medical costs. Medical payments coverage pays your medical bills directly to your doctor or hospital. You do not have to worry about paying first and asking to be reimbursed by your insurance company. One advantage of medical payments coverage over using your health insurance is that it does not have any deductibles or copays. Your auto insurance company cannot raise your premiums for making a medical payments claim when you were not at fault. To use your medical payments coverage, contact your auto insurance company to inform it about your accident and injuries, and let the company know that you will be submitting bills under your medical payments coverage. You will be given a claim number so that you can submit your bills to the insurance company and have payments sent. Like your health insurance company, your automobile insurer can seek reimbursement for what it pays for your medical care from your settlement or award.
Filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault party
When someone else is responsible for causing your accident and injuries, you are entitled to file a personal injury claim to recover compensation. The damages that you might recover from a personal injury claim include more than your medical expenses. Through a personal injury claim, you might recover your past and future medical costs, rehabilitation costs, wage losses, property damage, and others. A personal injury claim also allows you to seek damages for your noneconomic losses, including pain and suffering damages.
Your medical expenses are important for determining the value of your personal injury claim. If you retain an attorney, he or she will calculate the value of your pain and suffering damages in one of several ways. Under the multiplier method, your lawyer may multiply a value ranging from 1 to 5 by the total cost of your past and future expected medical bills from your accident. If your injuries are severe, a higher multiplier will be used. The per diem method is another approach that might be used. This method takes a per diem rate per day from every day since your accident until you recover to calculate a reasonable pain and suffering damages amount. Finally, your lawyer might use a job description method. However, this method is less common.
Filing a personal injury claim might allow you to recover compensation for all of your losses, including your medical expenses. However, it may take months or several years before it is successfully settled or won at trial. If you use other insurance sources during the interim to pay for your medical treatment, your insurance companies can subrogate your settlement subject to the limitations mentioned previously.
Uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage
Another optional coverage that you might have on your auto insurance policy is uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. If your accident was caused by an uninsured or underinsured driver, you can file a claim with your auto insurance company under your UM/UIM coverage. When you purchase auto insurance, you must be offered this optional coverage. It is a good idea for you to purchase it. This type of coverage protects you when the at-fault driver fails to carry insurance or has policy limits that are too low to cover your losses. UM/UIM coverage also covers your medical bills when the at-fault driver flees the scene and cannot be found.
After being injured in an accident that someone else caused, you should consider retaining a personal injury lawyer to help with your claim. Your lawyer can help you find any and all sources of insurance and file all appropriate claims. He or she can work to secure maximum compensation for all of your losses. Finally, an attorney can negotiate with your insurance providers to secure reductions of any subrogation claim amounts. Having a lawyer’s help can help you to get the medical care that you need and concentrate on your recovery rather than dealing with red tape.