Who Pays My Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
With or without health insurance, many car accident victims find that, in addition to trying to recover from their injuries, hospitals and doctors bills are a major concern. Whether its deductibles, co-pays or the full bill, accident victims are commonly harassed by healthcare providers for unpaid medical bills. This post will attempt to answer client questions about this annoying, but very common post-accident issue.
1. “The accident was not my fault. Why should I have to pay the bills?”
Under Alabama law, fault is irrelevant to the injured victim’s obligation to pay medical bills. Stated differently, issues of fault do not change or alter the legal liability of the patient to pay the bill.
2. “Why does the at-fault driver’s insurance company not pay my bills?”
Liability insurance companies will not pay “as you go” for medical treatment. Insurance adjusters will only reimburse for medical treatment after all treatment has ended. Unfortunately for those without health insurance or the ability to pay, this frequently means they will have to forego necessary medical treatment or borrow money to pay for it.
3. “Will my doctor treat me if promise to pay after my settlement?”
Most physicians will not provide treatment under a promise to pay later. Some doctors will agree to accept a letter of protection (lop) from an attorney they trust. A lop is simply a written promise from your Birmingham car accident lawyer, agreeing to withhold payment for the doctor once a settlement is reached.
4. “What about the TV ads I see where companies will advance me money pending my case outcome?”
While there are many TV advertisers that are willing to advance money for clients with pending personal injury claims, we don’t recommend going this route. Why? Because the interest they charge is much steeper than a bank loan…sometimes reaching 15 to 20%!
5. “Will my auto insurance pay my medical bills?”
While our clients’ car insurance companies are not technically liable for medial bills stemming from a car accident, most Alabama insurance policies do have “medical payments” coverage. The usual limit is $5,000 and doesn’t cover the super large bills from most hospitals. However, when the medical treatment is not substantial, such as only chiropractic care, this money comes in handy.
For those with health insurance, there will still be co-pays and deductibles. We advise our clients to keep up with these and forward all bills and collection letters to our attention so we can claim these items in the settlement. For aggressive bill collectors, we are happy to send them lop’s in hopes that they will halt their collection activity.