After getting in a car accident caused by a negligent driver, it only seems fair that you shouldn’t pay a single dime towards your medical expenses. But, as the old saying goes, “nothing in life is free,” and, unfortunately, you’re responsible for making sure your medical bills are paid as you incur them.
Thankfully, when you file a claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver or their insurance company, you’ll be reimbursed for your medical expenses. But, it can take a while to reach a settlement. So, how do you get your medical bills covered in the meantime?
The good news is that a Carrollton car accident lawyer can help you figure out how to pay for the treatment you need now, and can even point you in the direction of local healthcare providers who will delay payment until you have funds. Most importantly, they can negotiate on your behalf to minimize your medical bills and maximize your final settlement amount, so that any of your out-of-pocket expenses are covered down the line.
Let’s take a look at some financial options you may have to pay for your auto injuries.
File a Claim With Your Health Insurance
What If You Don't Have Health Insurance?
Those who are injured by a careless driver and have no health insurance are often in the most difficult financial situation. All your emergency medical care will be billed to you—at full rate, without the discounts that health insurance companies get—and you’re required to pay for those expenses, even while you’re out of work because of the auto injury.
Fortunately, there are a few alternative payment methods below that can help people with or without health insurance.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage
Personal injury protection (PIP) is a type of automobile insurance policy that covers expenses like medical bills, lost wages, and other costs if you are injured in a car accident. In Texas, insurers are required to offer you at least $2,500 of PIP insurance, unless you write a letter declining the coverage. If you do nothing, PIP coverage is automatically added to the policy.
Some other great aspects of PIP insurance, also known as “no-fault” insurance, is that it will cover your expenses no matter who caused the crash. PIP pays immediately, so you don’t have to wait through a long lawsuit before getting the compensation you need. Plus, it doesn’t require you to reimburse your auto insurer.
While it may not be much, it will quickly cover some of your bills and it’s especially helpful if you don’t have health insurance.
Medical Payments (Med Pay) is also a form of auto insurance that will immediately cover medical expenses, hospital bills, and similar costs if you’re injured in an accident. However, unlike PIP, you’ll have to reimburse your insurer if you recover any funds from the at-fault party. Even though you’ll have to pay these funds back, Med Pay is a great option for those with or without health insurance, as it can help you quickly tackle some up-front costs.
Med Pay and PIP are both helpful if you’re uninsured or have limited finances. But, it’s important to keep in mind that they’re not going to cover as much as you would get from filing a personal injury claim. After your bills exceed the policy limits (which can easily happen if your injuries are severe), you’ll still be responsible for paying them. That’s why it’s critical to talk to a Carrollton car accident lawyer immediately following the aftermath of a wreck. They can help you coordinate your insurance benefits and hold the at-fault driver responsible so that you receive compensation for all your medical bills.
Medical Liens and Working Out Payments With Healthcare Providers
Some healthcare providers know that many of their patients have no health insurance or might be struggling with their bills after a car accident. Rather than demanding you pay your bills at once, they may be willing to work with you on a payment plan.
If you tell them you’re planning on filing a personal injury claim, they may also agree to hold off on charging you until after you receive your settlement. This is called a “medical lien.” A medical lien is an enforceable agreement between the patient and the provider and requires your lawyer to pay the provider using the settlement proceeds before you get any of the money yourself. Once your bills are paid, you will receive a check for the remainder of the settlement.
If you’re slammed with medical bills and struggling to make ends meet, this is where hiring a Carrollton car accident attorney will pay in spades. Our team is familiar with local healthcare providers who are willing to work with patients to get the treatment they need—regardless of their ability to pay. We can also negotiate with your healthcare providers to delay your bills until the case is settled and keep any bills from going to collections and ruining your credit.
Getting the Best Deal and Minimizing Your Medical Bills Requires Strategy and Coordination
Remember, when you settle with the other driver’s insurance company, you may need to use some of your settlement money to pay back your health insurance, med pay, or doctors who agreed to a medical lien. Getting the best deal that leaves you with enough compensation to cover all of your medical expenses and other losses requires a lot of strategy and coordination with your insurance, your healthcare providers, and the at-fault party’s insurance company. The final dollar amount that ends up in your pocket can be significantly affected by how these negotiations are handled, which is where hiring a Carrollton car accident lawyer pays off.
Let’s use the following scenario to illustrate how a lawyer can handle these negotiations on your behalf, so you walk away with as much settlement money as possible.
- Sally breaks her back after she was hit by a negligent driver.
- Sally’s medical care includes an ambulance ride, surgery, a hospital stay, and a few months of physical therapy.
- Sally submits all of her bills to her health insurance company, but the only service that’s not covered is physical therapy. Sally’s lawyer gets the physical therapist to agree to delay sending her the bill until she gets her settlement money.
- After completing her recovery, Sally gets a clean bill of health from all of her doctors.
- Her attorney prepares a settlement package asking for compensation for the FULL amount of the medical bills (even if some were discounted by health insurance).
- After negotiations between Sally’s lawyer and the at-fault driver’s insurance company, they finally agree to a settlement amount. That amount includes compensation for all of her medical bills (including any co-pays and deductibles that came out of her pocket), Sally’s lost wages, and the long-term pain and suffering she will experience as a result of her back injuries.
- Sally’s lawyers notify her health insurance company about the settlement and they request reimbursement for what they originally paid. After negotiations, the insurance company agrees to LOWER their reimbursement request.
- Sally’s attorney also negotiates with the physical therapist who agrees to discount his bill by 20%.
- After paying her lawyer, Sally keeps the rest of the money (which is a huge difference considering the original cost of her medical bills and the lower settlement amount she may have received if she handled everything on her own).
Struggling to Pay Your Hospital Bills After a Wreck? A Carrollton Car Accident Lawyer Can Help
If you’re struggling to pay some or all of your medical bills after being injured in a car crash, make sure to talk to one of our Carrollton car accident attorneys about your financial options. We can help you figure out alternative payment methods, get you in touch with healthcare providers who are willing to treat you regardless of your ability to pay, and will work hard to maximize the compensation you receive from the at-fault driver. Contact us today for a free, confidential consultation.