Getting Coverage for Your Injuries After a Car Accident
The first thing you should do after you are injured in an accident is to seek medical attention. Not only is it important for your health and well-being (you may die without proper treatment), it is important also for your personal injury claim if another driver was at fault. But who will pay your medical bills?
The Medical Bill Paying Process
Do not expect the at-fault driver’s insurance company to pay the bills; not at least until you have reached a settlement or won the lawsuit. The general rule is that the defendant does not have to pay the medical bills on a claim that is still in process. Even if the other person is clearly at fault, he or she is required by law to pay your medical bills on an ongoing basis.
This means you have to pay the bills either from your pocket or forward the bills to your insurance company. So here is what the medical bill paying process involves:
- As soon as you can, get emergency treatment (if you need it).
- Contact a skilled and experienced car accident lawyer.
- Contact your insurance companies (auto insurance, health insurance and other insurances).
- If you believe another person was at fault, then contact that person’s insurance company at the earliest opportunity and have your lawyer begin the claims process.
- Save all receipts and records of your injury-related expenses.
- In the meantime, make arrangements for follow-up and non-emergency treatment.
- Once you receive your bills, submit them to your auto insurer if you have medical coverage or to your health insurer if you have treatment coverage. If you have health insurance, your health insurance company will pay your medical bills. If you have subscribed to Medicare or any state run health insurance program offered through Medicaid, then those programs will pay your bills. If you do not have any of these, then you will have to pay from your own pocket.
- If the accident was your fault, the case is closed. You will not receive any compensation.
- If the other diver was fully or partially at fault, then your lawyer will negotiate the settlement with his or her insurance company. In case no settlement can be reached, you may proceed to file a lawsuit.
- Once you have accepted a settlement or won the lawsuit, you can collect the payment, which is normally made within two weeks.
“No fault” and “fault” states
In a “no fault” state, the insurance company will pay all or some of the medical bills regardless of who was at fault. But there is usually a cap on the amount the insurance company will pay, which is generally $10,000 or less. If your bills exceed the cap, then you will have to pay the difference.
In a “fault” state, you will be responsible for paying your medical bills yourself. However, if you have medical insurance payment coverage (often shortened to ‘Med Pay’), then Med Pay will pay the medical bills of the drivers and passengers injured up to the insured individual’s policy limits. Again, if your bills exceed the cap, then you will have to pay the difference.
But what if the at-fault driver has no insurance? In this case, the uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage from your own insurance company will pay the difference between what the uninsured at-fault driver can pay and what you (the injured person) would be entitled to. This payment, of course, covers medical bills. Talk to your car accident lawyer to learn more about insurance coverage.