FAQ: How Do I Pay For My Medical Bills After A Car or Truck Accident
One common question, and area of confusion related to car accident claims, is who pays for your medical bills after you’re been injured in an accident. In order to answer that question, you must determine several things: 1) Who was at fault in the accident?, 2) What kinds of insurance are available?, 3) How much will insurance pay?, and 4) When will insurance companies pay your medical bills?
Who Was At Fault For the Accident?
Before you can determine who should pay your medical expenses, you first have to determine who was at fault for the accident. The driver at-fault, or their insurance company, will be responsible for paying the damages, including medical expenses.
This may seem fairly straightforward to you, but it seldom is that easy, especially when trying to convince an insurance company to pay your medical bills. Many times insurance companies will dispute liability, claiming that their insured driver was not at fault, and will deny your claim. Insurance companies in Texas are very bold in denying claims to avoid paying, even when it’s obvious that their insured
was at fault. I’ve seen insurance companies deny liability on claims even when the police report clearly states that their insured was at fault for the accident.
If the at-fault driver’s insurance company denies your claim, for any reason, you should not simply give up and go away (which is what they want you to do). You should call an attorney that specializes in handling injury cases. We have gotten significant settlements for our clients, even after the other driver’s insurance company denied liability.
What Insurance Coverage Is Available?
In order to know who should pay your medical bills, you will need to know what different types of insurance are available. Important Note: There may be more than one insurance company that can help pay your medical bills:
Your Own Health Insurance Coverage. If you have health insurance, you’re usually better off using your health insurance to get medical care, especially for emergency room care. However, if you do reach a settlement in your injury claim, your health insurer has the right to be reimbursed for any payments they have made in connection with your injury (this is called “subrogation”).
If you’ve sustained serious injuries, you should consult with an attorney that specialized in handling injury claims because they can often help you find the right doctors who are familiar with the medical documentation required to strengthen your injury case.
At-Fault Driver’s Liability Insurance. Assuming that the other driver was at fault,and had valid liability insurance, their insurance company would be responsible for paying your medical bills. However, there are a few important things you need to know about liability insurance claims:
- The at-fault driver’s insurance company will not pay your medical bills as the bills come due. In fact, they usually only pay you one time at the very end of your claim. This sometimes causes credit problems for injured people without health insurance because their medical bills can be sent to collections. An experienced injury attorney can often work with medical providers to prevent ruining your credit after an accident.
- You should never settle your claim until you are completely finished with your medical treatment, that way you know exactly how much the insurance company owes you for medical care.
- Don’t accept or cash the first check an insurance company sends you unless you’re done treating, and the payment is fair (this is rarely the case). NOTE:You only get chance to settle your case. Once you accept their settlement, and sign their release, your case is over. You cannot go back later and ask for more money. That is why you should only settle your claim AFTER you have completed treatment, and know exactly what the medical bills are.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage. If you have PIP coverage on your own policy, you can submit a PIP claim to your own insurance company. PIP coverage is something EVERY Texan should carry. PIP coverage is available to pay for your medical bills, and up to 80% of lost wages that occurred because of your accident.Contrary to what many people believe, making a PIP claim on your own insurance policy will not raise your rates, in fact, it’s illegal in Texas for an insurance company to raise your rates or discontinue coverage just because you make a PIP claim.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Yes, liability car insurance in mandatory in Texas. However, its been estimated that one out of every four drivers in Texas are driving without valid liability insurance. I would bet that this number is actually much higher for south Texas cities, like San Antonio and southward. If you’re injured by an uninsured driver, the only insurance available toyou’re your medical bills will be your own insurance.
Hopefully you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your own insurance policy. This is coverage that EVERY Texan should have. If you don’t have it, you should add it as soon as you can. It doesn’t cost much, and it will protect you and your family when an uninsured driver hits you.
Unfortunately, if you’re injured by an uninsured driver and do not have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage on your own policy, the only other option you have is to sue the at-fault driver. However, this is usually pointless because if they don’t have the money to purchase valid insurance, they likely won’t have the money to pay you, even if you win a lawsuit against them.
How Much Will The Insurance Company Pay?
The insurance company will only pay medical bills that have either been paid (by you or your health insurance provider), or have been incurred (meaning you still owe the bill) as a result of the accident. Holding the insurance company accountable to pay your medical bills depends on the following:
- Proving their driver was at fault
- Documenting your injuries, and showing that the injuries were caused by their insured driver
- The type and extent of your injuries
- Whether you were compliant with your doctors orders (did you follow what your doctor told you to do)
- Whether or not your have a lawyer on your side (they are more likely to treat you fairly if you have a good attorney on your side
One thing that insurance companies are notorious for is claiming that some (or all) of a person’s injuries were not caused by the accident, and refusing to pay medical expenses related to those injuries. Because many laws in the state of Texas favor insurance companies, insurance companies are very brazen in using these types of tactics to reduce or deny claims. If an insurance adjuster is not treating you fairly, or is using these types of tactics in your claim, you should contact an attorney that specializes in injury cases as soon as possible. If you wait too long to contact an attorney, it may be too late, and you could forever lose the right to get compensated
for your medical bills
When Will The Insurance Company Pay Your Medical Bills?
As mentioned above, you should NEVER try to settle your claim until you’ve completed your medical treatment. This can take as little as a month, or several years. You should be aware though that there are strict timelines for brining your claim. If your treatment takes more than six months, you should consider discussing your claim with an experienced injury attorney so that you don’t miss important deadlines that can destroy your claim.
The insurance company will only pay you once, at the end of your claim. They will almost never pay for your medical treatment as it occurs. This makes it very difficult for people who don’t have health insurance because they often can’t afford to pay out of pocket for medical treatment. However, one thing is certain, even if you don’t have health insurance, you should NOT delay getting medical care.
Getting Medical Treatment Without Insurance
If you don’t have health insurance, and have been injured in an accident that was not your fault, we can help you get the medical treatment you need. Our Medical Treatment Program was created to help injured people without health insurance get the treatment they need following an accident. We’ve teamed up with a network of medical providers who work with us to provide medical care to our clients without
any upfront payment.
For more information about how you can get medical treatment even without health insurance, give us a call at (210) 593-8709 to see how we can help you.