What to Do When You Cannot Afford Medical Bills Post-Car Accident and Pre-Settlement, Pt. 2
If you were in a car accident and your damages exceed your insurance policy limits, you may be wondering how you are going to pay the medical bills that keep showing in your mailbox. Part one of this series explored the various insurance options you can use to help foot the expenses. This post will attempt to address who will pay the bills, when you must pay your bills, how you can ensure that your bills will get paid, and if you will be required to reimburse your healthcare company. If you do choose to pursue a personal injury settlement, our Miami car accident lawyers at Spencer Morgan Law is prepared to help you manage your expenses throughout the duration of your case and fight on your behalf for the best possible outcome.
Who Will Pay Your Medical Bills?
It is a common misconception that a victim’s personal injury lawyer will foot the cost of medical expenses and then reimburse him or herself when the case settles. Though personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, they cannot feasibly cover the cost of even a single client’s medical expenses and pay for the resources necessary to prove his or her case and obtain a favorable outcome. Your lawyer will help you keep track of all your medical expenses so as to ensure that he or she can ask for the proper amount of damages as the case proceeds. He or she may even help you keep collectors at bay. However, the injured party is ultimately responsible for ensuring that medical bills get paid.
As for property damage, either yours or the liable party’s insurance company should cover the cost of repairs. Unfortunately, however, medical expenses—which are typically the most expensive damages—are often not covered by auto insurance. You may be able to rely on your PIP coverage, as mentioned in the last post, or even your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, but if your medical bills exceed your policy limits, you may need to look into medical financing. Our team can certainly help you with that as well.
If the other driver was negligent, his or her insurance company will be liable for covering the cost of your damages. If the company knows that its client was grossly negligent, it may try to offer you a settlement early on in the process. This offer should be rejected, as the amount is likely far less than what you need to cover the cost of damages. If you accept a lowball offer, the liable driver will be released from financial responsibility and cannot be held financially liable for additional expenses, including ongoing or future medical care.
If the driver was uninsured or underinsured, we may be forced to explore other means of recovery, such as placing a lien on the liable party’s assets. It only makes sense to do this, however, if the other party has significant assets. If the other party does not have much in the way of assets, there is not much a judge can do to enforce a judgement.
When Will Your Bills Get Paid?
If you do pursue a car accident injury claim, you will not be forced to pay for uncovered expenses until after your case settles. How long after an accident a case takes to settle depends on a number of factors, including but not limited to when you are released from medical treatment, when your attorney receives your final medical statement, and when the insurance company has received the final records and bills for review. Sometimes this process can take months, sometimes it takes years. How long the process takes you depends on the severity of your injuries, when you filed your claim, and whether or not your case goes to trial.
How Can You Make Sure Your Bills Do Get Paid?
Every time you receive a statement in the mail, make a copy and send it over to your attorney. Every statement counts, as your attorney uses your records to know how much in compensation for which to negotiate.
Bear in mind that just because you have a possible settlement coming does not mean that you should just ignore your bills. Remember that no one is paying your bills for you, and the longer they sit unattended, the greater the chance that they will go to collections. If your bills go to collections, it could severely hurt your credit score. The best thing you can do is call each medical provider and explain your situation. Most are likely to be pretty understanding and to allow you to make minimum payments until your case settles. Some may even put your account on hold until your case is settled.
Will You Have to Reimburse the Insurance Companies?
If you are awarded a settlement, your health insurance company may seek reimbursement through a process called subrogation. Subrogation exists to prevent victims from recovering twice for the same injuries. Subrogation may also occur if your health insurance company covers a medical bill and then PIP later pays for it. To ensure it gets paid, the health insurance company may put a lien on your settlement.
Retain the Help of an Experienced Miami Car Accident Lawyer
If you were injured in a car accident in Miami and now have excessive medical bills to cover, you may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about your financial future. The Miami car accident lawyers at Spencer Morgan Law are prepared to help you manage your medical bills, stave off collectors, and fight for the compensation you need to pay off the growing pile of bills and ensure you are financially secure throughout your recovery. Contact our law office today to learn more.