Who Pays for My Medical Bills After an Accident?
Personal injury law is built on a fundamental truth: if someone causes you harm, they should be responsible for paying your medical bills. Compensation could come from the at-fault party directly, their company, or their insurer—it doesn't matter. If they're responsible for the accident, someone on their side should pay your medical costs.
How does that work, exactly? If we win your case, the at-fault party will be responsible for paying the verdict or settlement, which should include coverage for medical expenses. However, this payment isn't rendered until the case is finished. At that point, you've likely already received the treatment you needed. You may have ongoing costs to consider, like in-home care, assistive devices, therapy, or medication, but what about all the medical bills you've already incurred? A successful verdict or settlement should cover both past and future medical costs associated with your injury, plus other losses or expenses, like lost earnings and emotional trauma.
When Do My Medical Bills Get Paid?
After an accident, you'll need to receive medical treatment. You'll need to receive this treatment before you even file your personal injury case. Typically, this means submitting all of your medical bills to your 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. However, your attorney might be able to negotiate with your healthcare provider to keep the bill out of collections until your case is finalized.
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, it takes 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 which injuries have healed and which will require ongoing lifelong care. This results in a more accurate claim and helps to ensure that you receive everything you need to fully recover.
It's important to note: 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 should 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, attorney's fees, and court fees all subtracted from the final amount when you receive it. However, if all goes well, your medical bills should be paid and there should be enough money to cover any future costs without a problem.
Can an Attorney 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. In these situations, your attorney might be able to 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 circumstances surrounding your case and the skill of your attorney may influence 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!