A car accident
can result in serious injuries which can require medical treatment to correct, but who is responsible for those medical bills? What happens if no settlement is awarded? These are all common questions after a car accident and you should be fully informed of your rights to make the correct decision.
Who pays medical bills after a car accident?
This can depend on a few different factors. Are you insured? If so your health insurance provider will likely pick up the tab associated with injuries you sustain after a car accident. However, this amount will likely be reimbursed to the insurance carrier after a settlement is awarded. This element of your claim is called subrogation which will be discussed below. Having insurance is a benefit because it will allow you to seek treatment immediately and the insurance company will not require you to pay them back if no settlement is awarded.
What if I am not insured? This is a bit different. Not having insurance will require you to pay upfront for your medical treatment. If it is a small fender bender, the costs are not that high, but if your injuries are serious then the cost will be significant. In such cases you attorney can work with doctors on a medical lien. This will allow you to seek treatment without paying upfront, but after a settlement is reached the doctors will be paid back for their services.
Working on a lien can also have its own set of disadvantages, but maybe the only available option. One of the disadvantages are that you can be left with the cost of medical treatment in the event that no settlement is awarded. While your attorney can negotiate with certain health care providers in the event that no settlement is reached, you will still be responsible for a portion of the bills.
That is why you must first thoroughly discuss your case with your attorney. Make sure you do not just sign up with an attorney who does not take the time to investigate and ask you the necessary facts pertinent to your case. Understanding whether you have a lawsuit is important and will help avoid troubles in the future.
What if the driver carries insufficient insurance coverage?
This can very well be an issue when dealing with your car accident claim. In cases where the driver has little to no insurance you will either have to go through your own insurance company. However this will only work if you have sufficient underinsured motorist coverage
With regards to insufficient insurance coverage and medical bills including emergency room visits costs, hospitalization costs, doctor office bills, prescription drug payments, and rehabilitation expenses, you need to consider what the limitations of the insurance policy of the at fault driver is. Here is a example, if you were involved in a auto accident and have $50,000 in medical bills and the person who hit you has a minimum policy i.e. $15,000, then that is the maximum you can obtain.
Your attorney should take steps to investigate what the policy limits are of the care who hit your. In California you are not required to release that type of information, but there are certain ways you can obtain it. This is the job for your attorney and they should make sure that they have this information in the event they are working with doctors on lien. The reason being that you do not want to be responsible for mounting debt against doctors if the policy does not support payment. In some cases the driver may have additional assets which can be attached to help you facilitate a recovery. Regardless of any of that information your attorney is required to take steps to investigate and make determinations with regards to this.
As a general note your insurance company will be responsible for the medical expenses, but if no medical coverage exist it is your attorneys duty to investigate the matter and help you make a proper decision.