Car accidents occur in seconds, yet their effects might last a lifetime. For most Americans, medical bills are one of the significant effects of being hurt in a collision.
The overwhelming weight of accident-related hospital bills lingers long after a person has recovered from their trauma.
In the worst scenarios, the only option for accident victims and their loved ones is to seek bankruptcy protection.
The at-fault party might be liable for covering your medical bills if you or a loved one was hurt in an automobile accident.
Here is a summary of who is responsible for paying medical bills in a car accident and how a skilled car accident attorney may navigate seeking compensation for your damages.
Car Accident Medical Bills by the Numbers
In a recent investigation, The Economic and Social Effects of Motor Vehicle Accidents, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that collisions in the US account for $30.1 billion in current and future medical costs within a year.
Generally speaking, medical costs comprise about a fifth (18.3%) of the economic effects of non-fatal accidents and about a third (37%) of the total expenses incurred by those who experienced severe non-fatal injuries.
Even minor car accident injuries can lead to substantial healthcare expenses. NHTSA estimates that the average treatment cost for victims with injuries at the bottom of a regular injury-measurement scale exceeds $2,200.
The average cost of medical care for victims with minor injuries was over $13,000. These costs escalated to over $69,000 for moderate injuries. They exceeded $188,000 for severe injuries.
Also, crash victims should expect healthcare costs to exceed $360,000 on average for highly severe or fatal injuries.
These are startling figures. Only a few Americans can afford to cover their costs out of pocket. But with insurance coverage and legal action, they may avoid paying out of pocket with the help of an experienced car accident lawyer.
Insurance That May Cover Car Accident Medical Bills
Most Americans may rely on their insurance to cover some healthcare expenses after a crash. Several forms of insurance cover the cost of treatment associated with car accidents.
Even so, they typically fall under two main categories:
- Insurance cover for accident-related medical costs that you bought or that someone else acquired on your behalf.
- Liability insurance is acquired by the person from whom you should receive compensation for your damages from the accident, which often includes medical costs.
Below is a summary of popular insurance policies that fit into these categories and could cover your medical expenses following a car accident.
Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance
Car insurance is something you probably have if you have a car. Depending on your state, you may have the choice or legal obligation to acquire personal injury protection (PIP) insurance cover.
PIP, commonly called no-fault insurance, pays for your hospital bills and lost wages caused by an auto accident, irrespective of who caused the collision.
It also covers you if you are struck by a vehicle while strolling or riding a motorcycle and your passengers if they do not carry their own PIP.
PIP usually covers your hospital bills up to a certain amount. You will cover any additional medical costs unless you have alternative insurance that does so or are entitled to compensation from another party.
MedPay is comparable to PIP since it is a form of no-fault insurance you can acquire to cover your accident-related medical costs.
Med Pay, however, only pays for your medical expenses, unlike PIP. It does not cover some costs and monetary damages generally covered by PIP.
The health insurance you get through your job, acquire on an exchange (also known as Obamacare), and receive via Medicare or Medicaid may cover your medical expenses for injuries resulting from an auto crash.
You can also use health insurance as a secondary form of protection to cover medical costs beyond any PIP or MedPay insurance coverage limit.
Workers’ compensation insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance from your employer could pay for your medical bills if you were hurt in an auto crash while on the job.
Worker’s compensation typically covers all medical costs for injuries sustained at work or when performing work-related functions.
To be covered, you should promptly notify your employer of a work-related auto accident and seek treatment from an approved medical facility, depending on the regulations of the state in which you reside.
Auto liability insurance
If the accident resulted from someone else’s negligence or reckless driving, their auto liability insurance might cover your medical expenses.
To collect compensation from the at-fault motorist’s auto liability insurance your attorney must be able to demonstrate that the driver’s actions violated their duty of care to you and resulted in the injuries for which you required medical attention.
You might only be able to recover damages from the at-fault motorist’s auto liability insurance in states where drivers must carry PIP insurance if you sustained severe injuries and have already used up your PIP insurance.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage
Your car insurance may provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This covers your hospital expenses if the at-fault driver does not have any or adequate auto liability coverage to fulfill your needs.
To prove a claim under the Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, you must demonstrate the at-fault driver’s negligence and the inability of their insurance to pay your damages.
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In places where you must first use your own PIP coverage to offset medical bills in a car accident, your uninsured/underinsured motorist policy may work as secondary insurance, as mentioned above.
General liability insurance
If another party, besides the at-fault driver, contributed to the accident, their general liability insurance might cover your medical costs.
For instance, most companies carry commercial liability insurance to shield themselves against liability for their employee’s negligence.
Likewise, people frequently have homeowners’ or renter’s insurance that protects them against liability for all wrongdoing, including non-driving behavior that causes a car accident.
You must prove liability and damages, like when you file a claim against the at-fault driver to qualify for this coverage.
What If There’s No Insurance Available?
It is uncommon for a car accident to occur without some form of insurance available to cover the injured victim’s medical bills in a car accident. But if this happens, you could still get another party to cover your expenses.
If another party’s negligence, recklessness, or willful misconduct caused the accident, they would be legally responsible for covering your damages, whether or not they have insurance.
At-fault parties occasionally own assets that an attorney may confiscate on your behalf through a lawsuit.
So, ensure you speak with an expert lawyer about your situation, even if you doubt the at-fault party has insurance to pay your medical expenses following the car accident.
The Process for Getting Payment for Medical Bills in A Car Accident Claim
Apart from your health insurance and workers’ compensation (in some situations), you cannot count on anyone to automatically cover your medical bills after sustaining injuries in a car accident.
Usually, you can pursue legal action with the help of an experienced car accident attorney to seek compensation.
Here is a general overview of how this works.
Demanding payment from the at-fault party or appropriate insurance provider is the first step toward paying medical expenses following a car accident.
Attorneys who represent car accident victims seek financial compensation for their client’s medical expenses by, for instance:
- Sending a demand letter to the at-fault party or their lawyer
- Filing a first-party claim to the victim’s insurance provider
- Filing a third-party claim to the negligent party’s liability insurance provider
- Bringing a legal action in court to recover damages from a negligent party or their insurance provider
You can seek other damages besides just medical bills in a car accident. Specific insurance policies also cover a percentage of your lost wages.
Car accident lawyers usually look into the facts of the accident to determine all parties who might be liable for your damages and the full extent of your injuries.
Negotiating or litigating
Unless the at-fault party or insurance provider agrees to pay your claim fully, a demand letter typically results in the following:
- Denial to compensate at all
- An offer to settle your claim in part but not fully
- A request for additional details from you
The above responses usually set off a process between your attorney and the other party that could involve a negotiation or lawsuit.
The parties may share information over weeks, months, or (in some cases) years, petition a court to mediate their disputes, and consider settling your claim.
An attorney may also speak with your doctors while this process is ongoing. Usually, an attorney can persuade medical billers to postpone the collection of your bills until your compensation claim is settled.
They can also persuade your insurer to fund your medical costs immediately in exchange for your commitment to assisting them in eventually recovering the damages from the at-fault party’s insurance provider – a process called subrogation.
Discuss any concerns with your attorney so they can look into your options for covering medical expenses.
Settling your claim or going to court
Many demands for payment of your medical bills in a car accident from the liable party or insurance provider end in one of the following three ways:
- An out-of-court settlement
- A trial before a court or jury
- Dropping the claim without settlement
Generally, your lawyer works towards securing compensation for your medical expenses and other damages through either of the first two options. Most claims end in a settlement.
In a traditional settlement, the injured car accident victim agrees to indemnify the liable party from further liability in exchange for an agreed-upon amount.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today
You may incur substantial medical bills in a car accident. But this does not necessarily mean you are the only one responsible for paying them.
You can recover your medical expenses and other damages from the at-fault party or their insurer with the help of an experienced car accident lawyer.
At Legal Giant, we partner with the best lawyers specializing in car accident claims. Our partner attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they will only charge something if they win your case.
They also offer free initial consultations to injured car accident victims. So, save time.
Contact us at (855) 740-5024 to speak to a car accident lawyer near you.