Medical bills account for the greatest share of damages in most personal injury claims. Of course, even knowing that you will be compensated for your expenses doesn’t help when you need medical treatment to get well and you know that your claim may take many weeks or even years to resolve. Until settlement, what can do you to pay your medical expenses? This issue can seem even more serious if you do not have health insurance and you are unable to work following your accident.
The good news is there are several legal options that allow you to receive the treatment you need without paying until your claim is resolved. An experienced personal injury attorney can also help you explore how these options will effect your ultimate injury settlement.
What to Know About Personal Injury Medical Bills
Medical bills account for the lion’s share of damages in most personal injury claims. In an injury claim, medical expenses are considered any necessary, reasonable medical bills a victim incurs as a result of someone else’s negligence or intentional actions. The person who is found at fault for the injuries will be responsible for paying the victim’s medical bills. In most cases, the at-fault person’s insurance provider will need to approve the injury claim and offer the settlement.
As part of your injury claim, your medical expenses will include any bills you have paid, bills that have been paid by your health insurance, and any future expenses you incur as a result of the accident. This can include:
- Ambulance fees
- Prescription medication
- Hospital and ER bills
- Diagnostic tests
- Doctor and specialist visits
- Pain management
- Surgery expenses
- Therapy and rehab
- Transportation to and from treatment
- Some types of insurance costs like co-pays
While you are being treated, be sure you keep records of bills and receipts related to your treatment to prove all of your medical expenses to the insurance company.
Getting Medical Treatment Without Health Coverage
If you do not have health coverage and you are injured due to someone else’s negligence, you can still receive the treatment you need. Most medical providers are willing to accept a “letter of protection” issued by a personal injury lawyer that states the cost of services related to your accident will be paid out of the proceeds of the compensation you receive. This will allow the provider to defer payment until your claim is settled.
Some providers are also willing to put a hold on your account which means collection agencies will not be contacted as long as you agree to pay the bill when you settle.
Getting Treatment With Health Coverage
Most health insurance companies pay for services rendered that are related to an accident, although your insurance company will likely have the legal right to seek reimbursement from the proceeds of your settlement.
How Medical Liens Work
Medical liens are common in personal injury cases. With a medical lien, the lien holder, which may be a hospital or doctor, has a legal right and security interest to recover payment for their services. Your personal injury lawyer may be able to negotiate with the lien holder for a reduced amount, however. Negotiation is important because the lien will be paid before you receive your compensation and most providers automatically demand the full amount rather than a reduced charge.
How to Cover Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenses
One of the most challenging aspects of waiting for a settlement can be covering your out-of-pocket expenses, which can include prescription drugs and transportation to see your physician. A skilled personal injury attorney may be able to secure some immediate compensation from the at-fault person’s insurance provider to cover reasonable, necessary out-of-pocket expenses until your full settlement is approved.