After a car accident, the last thing you should worry about is your medical bills. But human nature makes it difficult to avoid worrying about significant costs we will soon be required to pay. Faced with pain and confusion over a recent accident, we wonder, “How am I going to pay these bills?” Worrying about the financial burden of medical expenses is reasonable. Healthcare is expensive and if you don’t have reserves in the bank, it’s natural to wonder how you will cover the costs of treatment.
Financial concerns should never prevent you from seeking the care you need after an accident. Delaying treatment can have very serious consequences. Identifying the parties responsible for the accident and understanding your options moving forward can relieve stress and allow you to focus on your recovery.
The Difference Between Financial Responsibility and Personal Injury Liability
Following a car accident, your number one concern should always be your health and wellbeing. You should always seek an evaluation by a medical professional after any accident, but especially after a serious motor vehicle accident. When you go to the doctor, you will be required to sign the usual forms and hand over your insurance information. At this point, the provider may ask for your auto insurance information and your health insurance information. But why?
After an accident, there may be a lot of uncertainties. Immediately following an accident, the insurance company has not had a chance to complete an investigation and you haven’t had a chance to contact an attorney. Because you are uncertain who will be financially responsible for your medical expenses, your medical provider will gather insurance information to ensure they will be paid. Ultimately, you are responsible for your medical bills. The medical provider simply wants to make sure that you have the means to pay for the services they provide.
Who Pays Immediately After the Accident
In the ideal situation, you will not be required to pay any of your accident-related expenses out-of-pocket. However, this is not always possible. Until you settle your car accident case, you may need to use your personal insurance policy to cover any ongoing medical bills. The good news is that many parties may help you immediately cover these costs, including:
Your Personal Injury Protection Insurance
Texas law requires all insurance providers to offer Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance to their drivers. The only way to decline this coverage is to do so in writing. It’s usually not a good idea to decline PIP coverage because it can help cover expenses before you are compensated for your injuries. PIP insurance is intended to cover medical costs and lost wages in the event of an accident, regardless of who is at fault.
There is no minimum for the amount of coverage drivers should carry, but most drivers carry between $5,000 and $10,000. If you have PIP insurance coverage, your policy will cover some of your initial medical expenses immediately following an accident.
Your Health Insurance
Unless you prevail in a car accident claim, you will be responsible for covering the costs of your treatment. If you do not have PIP coverage or have exhausted your PIP policy limits, the doctor can bill your personal health insurance. However, you will still be responsible for any copays or deductibles. Keep any receipts documenting any expenses you pay for. An attorney may include these costs in your car accident claim as damages. Your health insurance carrier will likely try to recoup these costs from the at-fault party at a later date.
In the last 15 years, 27,000 people died in work-related car accidents in the United States. If you are in an accident while on the job, you may be entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim. In this case, your employer’s workers’ comp policy will pay for medical costs related to your accident.
Who May Pay Later
While you may pay some of your costs through your own insurance immediately after an accident, the goal of a car accident case is to help you recover damages from the at-fault party. After your case concludes, if you obtain a sufficient settlement, you can use it to pay off any remaining bills. Parties that may hold financial responsibility in a car accident case include:
The Other Driver’s Insurance Policy
In motor vehicle accidents, liability generally comes down to the two drivers. If the other person is at-fault, you can file a third-party claim against that driver’s insurance provider. While the case may seem straightforward, insurance companies will look to limit their responsibility. This is why it’s important to gather evidence at the scene of the accident if you are able.
Relevant evidence may include:
- Pictures of the vehicles
- Pictures of any property damage
- Witness information
A Vehicle or Parts Manufacturer
Sometimes accidents happen despite the most cautious driving. In this case, a part or vehicle defect may have contributed to causing the accident. Manufacturers have recalled millions of cars and trucks over the past several decades. Thankfully, most issues are caught before any serious injuries happen, however, this is not always the case. When an accident happens because of a defective part, the part manufacturer should be held accountable.
In rare cases, the government may share some responsibility for a car accident. These cases are exceedingly rare and difficult to prove. To show that the government is responsible for an accident, you must prove their negligence caused the accident. You cannot simply show that a pothole caused the accident. Rather, you must show that the city or state was aware of the pothole, knew how dangerous it was, and chose to do nothing about it.
Circumstances where the government may come into play may include:
- Poor road conditions
- Damaged signs
- Missing signs
- Malfunctioning lights
- Missing or inaccurate traffic markings
Don’t Wait. Seek the Care You Deserve.
You should never avoid getting the proper treatment because you are worried about covering the costs. After a car accident, there are many options to help you pay for your medical bills. In some cases, your attorney may work with your care providers to defer payment until the conclusion of your case. If you are having difficulty paying your medical bills or finding a provider who will work with you, you should speak with an attorney right away. You have rights. If you have questions or need help with your car accident claim, contact an experienced car accident attorney today.