Who Pays for My Medical Bills After an Accident?
Personal injury law is built on a fundamental truth: if someone causes you harm, they are responsible for paying your medical bills. Compensation could come from the at-fault party directly, their company, or their insurer—it doesn't matter. As long as they're responsible for the accident, someone on their side has to pay your medical costs.
But how does that work exactly?
If we win your case or get you a settlement, the at-fault party will reimburse you for whatever medical costs you've incurred (or will incur in the future). However, there won't be any reimbursement until you receive a jury verdict or a settlement.
In the meantime, accident survivors will submit all their medical bills to their health insurance provider, including the ambulance ride, the hospital visit, subsequent doctor's visits, and appointments with specialists. Anything that isn't insured will need to be paid for out-of-pocket by you. However, your attorney may be able to negotiate with your healthcare provider to keep the bill out of collections until your case is finalized.
When Do My Medical Bills Get Paid?
If the at-fault party is required to pay for your medical care, does that mean they reimburse you after every doctor's appointment? No, not in a personal injury case.
Your case is ready to file once you've reached the point of "Maximum Medical Improvement." MMI is the point at which you've healed as much as you're going to heal. How long it takes to reach MMI depends on your injuries. For some people, several months. For others, it may be years. You may still have lifelong injuries, but once you're no longer getting better, you've reached MMI. This is the point at which your attorney will be able to gather all your medical expenses and file a claim against the at-fault party or their insurance company.
Waiting until you reach MMI is important because it gives you a more accurate view of your medical costs. It will help you understand what injuries have healed and which will require ongoing lifelong care. This results in a more accurate claim and helps ensure that you receive everything you need to fully recover.
Now, this only applies to anything not covered by your health insurance or provider. Whatever is covered by your provider will be paid on a normal schedule.
Personal Injury Cases, Hospital Liens & Medical Liens
Much of a personal injury claim revolves around healthcare costs. Your attorney will account for every cent of your medical care as part of the settlement negotiation (or trial litigation, if that's where it leads). However, what happens to the money that your health insurance already paid to cover your care? Since you didn't actually pay for your medical care in those cases, would you still get the money?
Actually, no—your health insurer would. What often happens is your health insurer or provider will file a hospital lien or medical lien against your personal injury claim. It's not a bad thing; it is simply the insurer saying that because they paid for your healthcare, they should be reimbursed from your settlement or verdict. As a result, your settlement will have the medical lien, the attorney's fees, and court fees all subtracted from the final amount when you receive it. However, if all goes well, you should have zero medical bills and enough money to cover any future costs without a problem.
How an Attorney Can Help with Medical Bills
Let's say you get into a car accident, and your medical costs over the next few months total $100,000. Let's assume that $40,000 of that is not covered by your insurer; what your attorney can do is negotiate with your medical provider to keep your bill from going into collections until your claim is resolved.
None of this is guaranteed; in fact, the skill of your attorney may determine whether or not this happens. That's why it's vital to hire an experienced attorney who has a history of results. A history of results not only makes it more likely that the other party's insurer will deal with you fairly, but it also demonstrates that your attorney knows how to navigate the complex medical insurance system.
When people turn to Arnold & Itkin, they're turning to a firm that makes their recovery personal. Call us at (888) 493-1629 now for help from a team that's prepared to fight for the full scope of the damages you've suffered.