Medical bills can pile up quickly after a car accident, especially if your injuries are severe. Unfortunately, there’s often a lot of confusion as to who pays the medical bills after a car accident, so it’s important to understand how it works.
If you were in an accident in Kansas City and need legal advice, contact the knowledgeable car accident attorneys at Peterson & Associates, P.C. They can explain the process and, if you choose to work together, help file a claim for compensation from the negligent party’s insurance company.
Who Pays for Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
Most people believe that the driver who is at fault for an accident and their insurance should be responsible for covering the medical bills of those injured. While this is technically correct, it must be proven that they are indeed responsible for the crash before any kind of settlement can be reached.
Once they’re found to be at fault, then their insurance company is liable to pay you for the damages you’ve incurred, which includes your expenses for medical care. However, proving fault, even with ample evidence, is a time-consuming process, which can take months or even years. Meanwhile, you’re not compensated until a settlement is reached. So unfortunately, as the injured party with medical bills, you’re ultimately responsible for paying them in the interim.
However, medical professionals routinely see people who are injured in car accidents. If you’re having difficulty paying your bills, it’s advisable to tell your doctor about the progress of your claim. They understand that your injuries might prohibit you from working, and how long it takes insurance companies to finalize a settlement. As such, some doctors and hospitals are open to developing a payment plan.
If you have past-due medical bills that have gone to collections, call the doctor and/or medical facility right away to update them about your work with an attorney on a settlement or possible litigation. Most can issue a temporary hold on collections until the settlement goes through or the court makes a ruling in your case. You can also request that medical billing forgo reporting any late payments on your credit report until after you receive the settlement or court-awarded damages amount.
Other Options for Covering the Cost of Your Medical Treatment
Paying medical expenses out of pocket can be financially catastrophic for many people as they wait for compensation from the insurance company. In fact, medical expenses are a primary reason why people declare bankruptcy. For this reason, it’s important to explore your options for covering your cost of care until your claim is settled. Here are some options:
You can use personal health insurance to cover medical expenses after a car accident, which will likely cover some or maybe even all of your medical bills related to the accident. However, you’re required to pay any deductibles and copayments outlined in your policy. Make a record of all deductibles and copayments you’ve had to pay, so they can be reimbursed when you discuss the total damages sustained in the accident.
Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay)
MedPay is optional auto insurance coverage in Missouri you can add to your existing policy. Coverage limits vary from $1,000 to $10,000, and are the amount your insurance company will pay toward eligible medical expenses after an accident. MedPay is a no-fault policy, so it pays for medical expenses following an accident, regardless of who is at fault. So if you have this coverage, it’s possible it might be enough to cover your injury expenses. Provide your doctor’s office with information regarding your MedPay plan, and it can bill it for the cost of your care.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
PIP insurance is another additional coverage on your car insurance policy that can be purchased in some states and may cover many of your medical and other accident-related expenses. However, in Missouri, this specific coverage isn’t available. Instead of PIP insurance, Missouri insurance companies offer the MedPay insurance discussed previously.
If you don't have the financial means to cover your medical bills, or if the at-fault driver is underinsured, seek legal help from an experienced personal injury attorney who can advise you on other ways to secure the compensation you need to cover medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.