You can financially plan for many things in life: marriage, children, and even emergencies. However, most people do not plan on being involved in a life-altering car accident and the resulting medical expenses. The average cost of a three-day hospital stay is over $30,000, and fixing a broken leg can cost close to $8,000. Further, these costs do not include follow-up physician visits, medication, physical therapy, pain management costs, and necessary medical equipment. This is all on top of your pain and suffering and lost wages. The cost of a car accident can add up quickly, and your no-fault insurance coverage can exhaust itself quickly. But can your mounting medical bills affect other areas of your life?
In order to encourage people injured in car accidents to seek swift medical attention and avoid litigation for minor injuries, Florida has adopted a “no-fault” insurance law. Under Florida law, operators of motor vehicles are required to carry “personal injury protection” insurance of at least $10,000. This insurance is primary if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident and your personal medical insurance will kick in only if your no-fault insurance company denies your claims or you exhaust your benefits. No-fault insurance covers your expenses regardless of liability, but as many drivers carry the state minimum $10,000, your benefits may be exhausted if you simply have to stay overnight at the hospital.
After a serious car accident, you would be surprised how quickly expenses can add up. You should be prepared to receive bills from the following health care providers:
A single MRI can cost close to $1,000, and if you injured multiple areas of your body in an accident, such as the three different areas of your spinal cord, you may require multiple MRIs over the course of a year. Furthermore, car accidents often result in spinal cord and neck injuries, such as whiplash, sprains, strains, dislocation, and herniated disks. These injuries can be difficult to treat, and rehabilitation can require three to five physical therapy visits per week, including chiropractic and pain management care. Even with continued treatment, severe herniation can require spinal fusion surgery, which costs over $100,000 and requires an average of $70,000 in rehabilitation expenses. If you have exhausted your no-fault benefits and do not have sufficient medical insurance to cover your costs, how can nearly $200,000 in unpaid medical expenses affect your life?
As the majority of medical facilities do not provide advanced billing services, do not be surprised if you begin to receive calls from collection agencies while you are in the process of negotiating or waiting for payment of your medical debt. Some medical providers are quick to send overdue payments to collections, and the collection agencies may be even quicker to report your debt to the credit agencies.
Although credit agencies have a mandatory waiting period before allowing medical debt to affect your credit and paid-off medical debt will cease to affect your credit, nearly 43 million Americans have medical debt on their credit report. Even if you are entitled to payment of your medical bills from an insurance company or lawsuit, this does not stop the debt from affecting your credit score while such payments are pending. Poor credit can result in a multitude of personal difficulties, including:
Again, even when you are entitled to payment of your medical bills through a third-party source, this can take time without the aid of an experienced Florida personal injury attorney and your medical debt may still affect your credit.
If you were injured in a Florida car accident and you were not deemed liable, you are entitled to full compensation for your medical expenses. This includes compensation from your own no-fault insurance company, compensation for the liable driver’s insurance company up to the policy limits, and compensation from the liable driver personally. Provided your treatment is deemed medically necessary from independent physicians, even your out-of-pocket expenses – such as over-the-counter medications and medical transportation expenses – can be recovered in a personal injury action.
Not only can you recover your medical expenses, but you can also recover for pain, suffering and lost wages. It is important to document all expenses incurred, even for a bottle of ibuprofen, if it is related to the treatment of your accident injuries. Additionally, if the injuries you suffered left you unable to perform daily household activities such as cleaning and driving, you can also seek compensation for housecleaning and taxi services. You should never settle for less than what you deserve after a serious Florida car accident.
It is essential that you contact a Florida personal injury attorney after a car accident – even for minor injuries. One visit to the emergency room can result in thousands of dollars of unexpected medical expenses, and even if you believe your injuries are not severe, many spinal and traumatic brain injuries may not develop until a few days after the accident.
Personal injury cases and Florida insurance laws are complex, and there is a lot of information that everyday citizens should not be expected to know. However, the law is here to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve after an accident, and Dolman Law Group is here to fight for every penny you deserve. We are your premier personal injury attorneys in the greater Tampa Bay area. Contact us today at (727) 451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation about your car accident.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765