Who pays for my medical bills if I’ve been injured in an accident?
When you are injured in an accident, the at-fault party will be responsible for paying your damages, including your medical expenses. In some states, you can still recover compensation if you are found partially at fault, although your recovery will be reduced based on your share of fault. If the other party is found liable, his or her insurance policy will compensate you for your damages, or you can pursue a lawsuit directly against the other driver.
Medical expenses account for the greatest share of of most personal injury claims, although not all medical bills can be included. Your personal injury lawyer can help you gather your medical bills and medical history to document your out-of-pocket expenses for your claim.
Medical Expenses and Personal Injury Claims
In a personal injury claim, medical expenses include any necessary, reasonable medical bills the victim incurs. If the defendant is found liable for the injuries, they will need to pay these medical bills. Your medical expenses will include not only current and past bills that have been paid (either by you or your insurance company) but also your estimated future medical expenses related to your injury. There is no limit to the amount of medical expenses that must be paid by an at-fault party in an accident.
Common Medical Expenses
There are many forms of medical expenses that the at-fault party may be required to pay in connection with your personal injury claim:
- Hospital bills
- Physician office visits
- Specialist bills
- Therapy and rehabilitation expenses
- Diagnostic tests and lab fees
- Surgery expenses
- Insurance-related expenses like copays
- Prescription medications
- Transportation to and from medical treatment
- Pain management
Not all expenses will qualify as reasonable and necessary in an injury claim. The best way to determine the types of medical bills you can recover is speaking with qualified personal injury attorneys.
Proving Your Medical Expenses
Experienced personal injury attorneys can help you document and prove your medical expenses, which may become quite extensive. In some cases, proving medical expenses may require a medical professional to testify. Proving your medical expenses in court, if necessary, may involve evidence such as hospital bills, receipts for medical treatment, pharmacy bills, and other documents.
Medical Bills and Health Insurance
If you have health insurance that paid for some or all of your medical expenses related to the accident, you can still recover compensation. This is because most health insurance policies have something called a subrogation clausethat states the insurance policy will pay for medical expenses related to a personal injury, but you must use the proceeds to reimburse the health insurance company if you make a recovery against a third party for your injuries. Your personal injury lawyer may recommend informing your health insurance company of your pending claim so they can choose to file or join your lawsuit against the at-fault party.
What to Do Without Health Insurance
If you do not have health insurance, paying your medical bills can be a major concern. The good news is most medical providers accept a “letter of protection” from a personal injury attorney. This letter states that any service expenses related to your personal injury will be paid out of the proceeds of the settlement or jury award you receive. In this case, the provider can defer payment for months or even years until you are compensated.
There are also many medical providers that will simply place a hold on your account at their practice. With a hold on the account, you will not face collection actions or credit damage as long as you sign a contract and agree to pay the bill when you receive the settlement.
If you do not have coverage and get treated at a hospital or some medical providers, you can expect a medical lien on your case. A medical lien means that the lien holder — which is a doctor or hospital — has a security interest and legal right in your eventual compensation. If you have a medical lien, inform your personal injury lawyer right away as they may be able to negotiate a lower amount rather than the full service amount most providers automatically demand.