You suffered injuries in a car accident, and now you have the medical bills to go along with them. Those high medical costs can cause a great deal of stress and strain on your life, especially if you know that you did not cause the accident and that, therefore, someone else bears liability for those costs
Who has to pay the medical bills after a car accident? Do you have options that can help alleviate the financial strain while you want the results of a car accident claim?
As the person injured and receiving medical services, ultimately, you must take responsibility for your medical bills, including making arrangements to pay them. However, that does not mean that you do not have options. In fact, you have several options for medical bill payment that can help alleviate some of the challenges that may arise when you have substantial medical bills to deal with.
A personal injury lawyer can help walk you through many of your payment options and make it easier for you to handle your medical bills and other needs.
1. California MedPay Insurance
In California, drivers have the option to add MedPay insurance to their car insurance coverage. California does not require MedPay coverage, but insurers do leave California drivers the option to add that much-needed coverage to their auto insurance policies.
MedPay covers the immediate cost of your medical bills, minus the amount of your deductible, up to the amount of coverage you selected. MedPay coverage kicks in regardless of which driver caused the accident, so you can use MedPay insurance to cover the cost of medical treatment even before you have a chance to sort out which driver bears liability for the accident through the insurance companies.
MedPay coverage may vary depending on the policy you have selected. In some cases, minimum MedPay coverage may provide as little as $1,000 in coverage for your medical bills. On the other hand, some insurers may offer policies that provide $25,000 or more in compensation for medical costs.
After you suffer injuries in an accident, contact your insurance provider to ask about your coverage. In addition to determining whether you have underinsured motorist coverage, which may provide help if the driver that caused your accident does not carry adequate coverage for your vehicle repair, you may want to ask about your MedPay policy and what it might cover.
2. Your Health Insurance Coverage
If you carry health insurance, whether private health insurance or employer-sponsored insurance, it can prove extremely beneficial in helping you manage your medical bills after an accident.
Talk to your health insurance provider after your accident and ask about the type of coverage you have. You may also want to talk to your car accident lawyer about how your health insurance may impact your car accident claim. California law places specific limits on what liens insurance companies can place on personal injury claims, which may help you keep as much of the compensation you deserve as possible.
Your health insurance coverage can prove vital, not only for covering the immediate expenses associated with serious medical bills after an accident but for handling the long-term medical care needs often associated with severe needs. You may want to ask your insurance provider about what coverage you have for specific types of medical services.
Do you need to spend time in a long-term care facility after your accident while you get your feet back under you? Does your injury require in-home care due to your lack of mobility or overall medical needs? Make sure you know what your insurance provider covers with regards to long-term care so that you can guide your care choices accordingly. You may also discover that your insurance company will pay for more of your long-term care, including care in your home, than you initially anticipated.
Physical and Occupational Therapy
Many injuries, including comparatively minor injuries like broken bones, may require physical therapy to help you restore strength and get back to normal, or as close to normal as possible, after an accident. If you suffer more severe injuries, including injuries that will lead to permanent limitations, you may have to go through occupational therapy to learn how to cope with those limitations.
Those therapies can prove vital to your eventual recovery and overall independence. However, your insurance company may strictly limit how many therapy sessions you can have in a single calendar year or for a single accident, even if your doctor recommends additional sessions. Knowing your limits ahead of time can help you plan your medical care as effectively as possible.
Durable Medical Equipment
Many insurance policies include specific provisions for durable medical equipment. You may, for example, need a wheelchair to help you get around, or either short-term or long-term medical equipment in your home to allow you to return home while enjoying as much independence and the highest quality of life possible.
Talk to your insurance provider to learn more about the coverage you have for durable medical equipment, including what percentage of that equipment the insurance company might pay for and what steps you need to take to have it covered.
While health insurance can help alleviate many of the costs that go along with severe injuries, you need to know what your health insurance policy will cover so that you can prepare your finances and make arrangements to deal with those potential bills.
Talk to your insurance company about the overall details of your coverage. Do you need to consider your copay and deductible? Usually, those amounts renew at the beginning of the calendar year or when you take out a new policy. Does your policy have an out-of-pocket maximum amount: the maximum amount you will have to pay for medical care in a single year? That information can also help you make financial plans and manage the challenges you may face.
3. Programs Offered by Your Care Provider
Many care providers understand the high costs that go into medical treatment after a severe accident. While medical care providers cannot alleviate the cost of those treatments completely, they can offer programs that may make it easier for you to manage your medical care without putting too much strain on your finances.
University hospitals, in particular, often offer programs that can make it easier to drop the cost of your medical treatments. Other care providers may have programs in place that will alleviate medical expenses for low-income individuals or help cut off the cost of expensive medical treatments when they exceed your ability to pay.
Contact the billing department at your care provider or hospital and ask about any policies or programs the facility might have in place to help make your medical costs easier to manage.
4. Negotiation With Your Care Provider
Sometimes, you can negotiate the cost of medical care, especially when it comes to expensive medical procedures and other long-term care needs. A lawyer can help with that negotiation process and provide you with more information about your rights and options for managing payment.
A Lien on Your Settlement
While you negotiate a personal injury claim after a car accident, you may not have the funds you need to take care of ongoing medical bills. You know those funds will come, but since you do not yet have them, you may have to wait to pay your medical bills. In the meantime, you may not know what steps you need to take next to alleviate those medical costs.
In some cases, your medical care provider may elect to place a lien on your settlement: a specific amount that the practice will take out of the settlement, once awarded. Your attorney’s office will pay the lien before distributing the remaining funds to you. For many individuals who have suffered severe injuries, this method can make it easier to continue pursuing treatment while waiting for a personal injury claim to settle.
Negotiating Down Bills
Medical care often costs substantially more than you expect. Your care providers often know the immense financial strain that goes along with severe injuries, and they may want to work with you to alleviate some strain, at least as much as possible.
A lawyer can help contact your care providers and negotiate payment terms, including how much you have to pay for those services. Your medical care providers would rather recover some compensation for their services than none, especially if you find yourself contending with substantial medical care costs, and may work with you to lower those bills and the bills for ongoing care.
For the most part, as long as you pay on medical bills over time, you will not have to worry about paying off medical costs as soon as they arise. Talk to your medical care provider about what payment options they offer so that you can spread the cost of expensive medical treatments out over time. Ideally, you should make the payments you can afford over time to help pay down medical debt. Keeping up with those payments can also help avoid your claim going to collections.
5. Your Car Accident Claim
When you file a personal injury claim after a car accident, the liable party’s insurance company will not have to pay your medical bills directly. If you have filed an insurance claim in the past, you may feel familiar with the general process, which might include the insurance company paying the garage that does the work on your vehicle directly.
Car accident claims, however, often prove much more complicated. After serious injuries, the auto insurance company does not have to pay your medical bills directly. Instead, the auto insurance company will issue a payment to you, which you must then use to help take care of any bills you may have accumulated.
A personal injury claim against an auto insurance company can include significant compensation, which may make it easier to manage your medical costs and take care of the financial challenges you may face after the accident. However, you may need to work with an attorney to maximize the compensation you can recover so that you can cover as many of your medical bills as possible with those funds.
When you file a demand package with the insurance company, it will likely break down into several crucial parts. However, when you receive a settlement offer or the actual settlement, the insurance company will likely not break down those funds into separate categories. Instead, you will receive a comprehensive settlement offer, which you must use to cover your expenses related to the accident.
First, your attorney will take his fees out of your settlement. You will agree to those fees upfront when you select an attorney, so you will know how much the attorney will take out of your claim.
Next, your attorney will pay off any liens on the settlement. That may include bills from medical care providers or a lien from your health insurance company.
Finally, you can use the remaining funds to pay your other medical bills and, depending on the settlement amount, provide a financial cushion while you rebuild your life.
An Attorney Can Help Manage Your Car Accident Claim
Costly medical expenses following a serious car accident can create extraordinary stress. Worse, you may already have enough on your plate as you recover from your injuries. An attorney can provide vital assistance in managing the aftermath of your injuries, from negotiating with your care providers on your behalf to helping to put together a comprehensive car accident claim.