After an auto accident, your worries increase immediately. You’re probably in a lot of pain, and you begin to see medical bills piling up. And who is going to pay for all of it? The weight of financial devastation can weigh you down and make it feel like there is no hope.
According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, nearly 54,000 people were injured in vehicle accidents in the State of Arizona in 2015. The average cost for the medical treatment of the injuries from those accidents is astronomical. The average incapacitating injury cost over $90,000. The average non-incapacitating injury cost $26,000, and the average cost of investigating possible injuries was a whopping $21,000. These figures show that any way you cut it, the medical bills for the average car accident in Arizona can be expensive.
So, who picks up the tab for all of this expensive medical treatment? In a car accident, which insurance company is responsible? If an insurance company does pay the doctor’s bills, does any of that money have to be paid back? Where does Medicare enter into the picture?
At the end of the day, your medical bills are your responsibility. Yes, someone else’s insurer may be responsible for compensating you for the cost of treating the injuries they caused. However, until that compensation arrives, the burden of payment remains on you. Medical providers can still demand payment and send your accounts into collections if those payments are not received. This will affect your creditworthiness. Therefore, it makes sense to make payments on your medical bills if and when you can and wait to be reimbursed for those payments by the negligent party’s insurer.
That being said, let’s examine a few different payment situations involving accident-related medical bills and their payment. After reading through these examples, you’ll start to get an idea of how you can get the cost of your medical treatment taken care of quickly, with the least possible amount of personal expense.
Your personal health insurance coverage is the primary source of coverage for any medical bills arising from the treatment of car accident injuries. It’s going to work the same way that it does for any other covered medical expense that you incur in your day-to-day life. You give your medical providers your insurance information and, in most cases, they will bill your health insurance company directly. Obviously, you will still be responsible for any deductibles or copayments, per the agreement between you and your insurer.
Don’t be afraid to use your insurance. After all, this situation is precisely why you decided to invest in health insurance coverage in the first place. However, be aware that if you receive a settlement or judgment, your insurer is entitled to recoup all payments it made on your behalf that arose out of your accident. Obviously, this is only fair. You cannot expect one insurer to pay for the cost of your medical treatment and then have another insurer pay you compensation for the same cost. In such a case, you’d receive a double recovery, and your insurer would be left holding the bag.
If you do not have health insurance coverage, you still may be able to have your medical treatments paid for by the auto insurance policy of the at-fault driver. If you have health insurance, your auto insurance coverage could help you pay for your deductible and any co-pay charges that you still must come up with out-of-pocket.
Auto insurance policies will only cover medical expenses up to the amount stated on the policy, so if you have coverage up to $100,000, and your treatment costs add up to $150,000, you would still be personally responsible for the $50,000 that exceeds the other driver’s coverage. This is why it pays to carry as much insurance coverage as you can afford to buffer your finances against a situation like this.
As you probably know, Arizona law requires that all drivers carry auto insurance that provides a minimum of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident in bodily injury liability coverage. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of Arizona drivers flaunt this law. If the driver who caused the accident that injured you had no insurance or had insurance that was insufficient to pay for your injuries, you could look to your own uninsured/underinsured coverage to pay your medical bills.
Uninsured motorist coverage is auto insurance that you purchase that protects you and the passengers in your car from the damages caused by a driver who carries no liability insurance. With uninsured motorist coverage, the insurer will pay compensatory damages to you for bodily injuries that resulted from the uninsured driver, up to the policy limits.
Underinsured motorist coverage is also auto insurance that you purchase. Underinsured coverage protects you and the passengers in your car from the damages caused by a driver who has insufficient liability insurance coverage to pay for your injuries. The insurer will pay compensatory damages to you for bodily injuries whose cost exceeds the other driver’s policy limits, but only up to the limit of the underinsured motorist policy.
If you do not have any insurance coverage, your medical bills are your sole responsibility to pay. Your medical providers will probably not wait until you settle your case for you to pay, so it is essential that you keep lines of communication open with the billing offices. Let them know that you have an open claim or lawsuit and that you are working with an attorney on a settlement. They will not put a hold on the bills, but you can work out a low monthly payment plan that will show good faith until your case is settled.
When your treatments have ended, and you have physically recovered from all of your injuries, you can then begin to settle your claim. The entire amount of all of your medical bills will be included in your damages. If you have insurance, you will reimburse their payments to medical professionals for your treatment out of the compensation you receive. Your personal injury attorney will help you navigate the entire process.
Keep in mind that an experienced personal injury attorney will be able to negotiate with health insurance companies, auto insurance companies, and government entities such as Medicare to have what you owe them reduced – sometimes by as much as 50%.
The attorneys at Parker & Lazzara are familiar with the complexities of competing insurance interests following a car accident. They can work the various insurers to get your medical bills paid and make sure that you receive every penny of compensation to which you’re entitled. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.