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How to Handle Your Medical Bills after a Car Accident

Car Crash Lawyers in Clearwater, FL

After you are injured in a car accident, it is a no-brainer to seek medical attention right away. After all, your health is more important than any of the other hundreds of things going on around you. But once you have been to the hospital, or seen a healthcare provider, the medical bills will inevitably start rolling in.

First, you’ll receive the bills from the ambulance service that rushed you to the hospital. Then, the ER doctor, hospital, and radiology department will all start sending their bills to your doorstep. If your injuries are serious, you will have follow-up visits, tests, and medicines to pay for. Later, you may have to pay for things like physical therapy, chiropractic care, or in-home medical care. These bills will start to come one after the other. Slowly, but surely, these haunting white envelopes will start stacking up on the kitchen counter.

There is no doubt, the arrival of these bills can be overwhelming.

This article will answer:

  • How do the bills get paid?
  • Who pays the bills?
  • When do they get paid?
  • What you need to do to make sure they are paid?
  • How will these bills get paid?

No-Fault Insurance

In Florida, your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or No-Fault insurance will cover the beginning of your medical bills. This is because Florida PIP applies regardless of fault. So if you did cause the accident, or if it was the other driver’s fault—either way—your PIP pays the medical bills.

PIP will not pay all of your medical bills, however. There are limits to what they will cover and how much. These limits are:

  • $10,000 for Medical Bills

PIP pays $10,000 per person for medical bills resulting from bodily injury or sickness that arises from a car accident. In order to be qualified for the full $10,000, a physician, dentist, physician assistant, or advanced registered nurse practitioner must determine that the injured person had an Emergency Medical Condition (EMC).

  • $2,500 for Medical Bills if You Don’t Have an “Emergency Medical Condition”

You only qualify for $2,500 per person for medical bills from bodily injury or sickness, if your injury is not deemed an EMC (see above link for details on how EMCs are determined). EMC is a hotly debated topic since exactly what and how they are diagnosed is vague.

  • Lost Wages up to $10,000

PIP will pay for some of an injured person’s lost wages if they are in a car accident. This is for the time the injured person took off work. This can be to heal, to go to doctors’ appointments or because they could not work.

  • $5,000 Death Benefit

In the unfortunate event that a loved one dies in an auto accident, their immediate family is eligible for $5,000 in death benefits to help cover things like funeral costs.

One thing about PIP is that is that the law is designed to cover people even if they are not insured, not driving, or not even in the car. If someone is injured as a result of a car accident, PIP should cover them. For more details on who PIP covers and how visit this link.

Some things you should know about PIP:

As mentioned earlier, PIP does not cover all of one’s medical bills. Instead, it pays 80% of reasonable medical bills. Reasonable expenses include things like medically necessary treatment, surgery, X-rays or other diagnostic scans, dental repairs, etc. It may also cover things like rehabilitative services, including prosthetic devices and medically necessary ambulance, hospital, and nursing services.

A few years ago, the PIP laws were changed—this was the same time they added the EMC clause—to limit an injured victim to just 14 days to report their injury to a medical professional. Otherwise, they will not be covered.

Thus, medical benefits are only paid by PIP if you receive initial services and care within 14 days after the motor vehicle accident. For this reason, it’s absolutely a must that you see a doctor right away if you are injured in a car accident.

During the same legislative session as above, massage and acupuncture were removed from the approved list of treatments; in the past, they were considered legitimate services.

Who pays the medical bills?

It’s a common misconception by clients that their attorney is paying their medical bills until their settlement comes in. This is not the case.

Your attorney will keep track of all your medical bills as the case proceeds so they can ask for a proper amount of damages, but they are not actually paying the bills.

The injured person is ultimately responsible for their own bills.

When it comes to the physical damage to your car, either your or the other driver’s insurance may cover it fairly quickly. However, medical bills are often a different story.

As mentioned above, you will rely on your PIP insurance to cover your initial medical bills, up to 80%. After that, your health insurance may begin to cover additional bills (depending on the contract). If you do not have health insurance and the PIP is exhausted, your attorney can usually help you find medical financing.

If the other driver was obviously negligent, their insurance company will ultimately be liable for additional medical costs and end up paying them in the settlement.

They may even offer you money early in the process, well before you fully recover. This offer should be rejected. If you do take it, you will release both the insurance company and the other driver from any responsibility. This means they will not have to pay for any ongoing and future care. It is often the case that future medical issues arise or that doctors discover other issues. If you already took a payout, these new medical bills will have to be paid out of your pocket. Instead, you should get the medical treatment you need before making a final deal.

There are also other types of insurance that may be at your disposal. One of these types is called medical payments coverage, or Med-PayAlthough this is not a given, if you do have it will provide you with at least $5,000 almost right away to pay providers.

You may also be able to use your Medicare or Medicaid in some instances if you have this type of insurance.

Insurance can be confusing.

Insurance contracts can be complex and lengthy. Auto insurance policies can also include a variety of different insurances.

A typical car accident will most likely involve four or more types of insurance from multiple different companies. This is why hiring an attorney can be useful in helping you to efficiently use the insurance at your disposal. Having someone who understands not only the complexities of the law but also of insurance, can be a major stress-saver

Subrogation

If your health insurance or any other type of coverage pays for your bills, and then later you are awarded money specifically for that bill, the company will ask for it back. This is called subrogation and it’s designed to prevent victims from being compensated twice for an injury. This may also occur if your private health insurance covers a bill, and then PIP pays for it later.

When will my bills be paid?

Most bills that were not covered by PIP or some other insurance will be paid when your case settles. The settlement may take several months after the accident—longer if the case goes to trial or there is wide dispute regarding the case. This is really not all that surprising when you consider the amount of bureaucracies that must be traversed. Between medical treatments, billing departments, and insurance companies, it can be an arduous process.

With most personal injury cases, the settlement process will begin once: the injured person is released from all medical treatment, the attorney has gathered all medical records and bills, and those records and bills have been sent to the insurance company for review.

It is done this way for two reasons. First, your attorney wants to be sure that they are asking for enough compensation to cover all of your treatments and losses. Secondly, negotiations are much easier when variables (like an upcoming surgery) are eliminated. This way, both sides have a complete picture of the case from which to negotiate.

How do I make sure they get paid?

Anytime you receive a bill at a doctor’s office or in the mail, you should send a copy to your attorney. They will be keeping track of all your medical bills, so they can know the total amount incurred and where you are receiving medical treatment. 

You should keep your attorney up-to-date on what doctors you are visiting, what happens at those appointments, and when you are released from that doctor.

Of course, your attorney will be keeping track of this on their end, since they will have access to your medical records during the case, but nothing beats speaking directly to your attorney about what is going on.

Once your treatment is complete, your attorney will request copies of your bills from each medical provider and submit them to the responsible party’s insurance company.

Just because you may have a settlement coming, does not mean you don’t have to pay the bills.

Do not allow bills to just pile up without taking any action. Remember, your attorney is not paying these bills out of their pocket.

These bills can still go to collections and still begin to harm your credit score. Instead, contact the medical providers and let them know the situation. You should take deliberate steps to make sure these companies know your situation. Explain to them that your medical bills are the result of an accident. Ask the billing company if they are willing to put your account on hold until your case is settled and you are able to pay your bills.

Some companies may even allow you to make small payments to prevent your account from going into collections until the full amount of the bill is paid.

The bottom line is that your bills are just that, your bills, and it’s your responsibility to monitor and handle them.

Why hire an attorney?

Obviously, the reason you hire an attorney is to help you through this process; and they very much will. Your attorney will help ensure your bills are paid, that everything is done in the most legal and efficient way possible and that you are compensated when it’s all over. But just like anything in life, if you want to stay in control of the entire situation, you must be active with what is going on.

At Dolman Law Group, we’ve helped thousands of victims get the full compensation they deserve for their injuries. The process is complicated, confusing, and frustrating. Dealing with the aftermath of an accident can be a heavy burden to carry, but we can help to take some of the load off. Visit our website to meet our attorneys, see videos about personal injury topics, and to read about our services. Call our offices today to set up a free consultation and case evaluation. Our number is (727) 451-6900.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

(727) 451-6900

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/auto-accidents-attorneys/