When a car accident results in injuries, the first priority is to seek medical care and treatment. Once you are stable, you can file a claim with insurance or seek help from an experienced attorney to hold the at-fault driver accountable.
While things need to happen in this order, many car accident victims experience a timing problem and a cash-flow problem. Personal injury litigation can take months or years, and medical bills typically come due much sooner than that.
You may have several options for covering medical bills when you are expecting a lawsuit settlement or jury award. The option you choose will depend on the details of your case, your insurance coverage, and whether you can afford to temporarily absorb significant expenses.
Paying out of pocket and seeking reimbursement
Some car accident victims can afford to front the costs of their medical bills until such time as they receive a settlement or jury award. If you have this option and choose to take it, you should keep meticulous records of those medical bills and how much you paid. These will be important later when seeking compensation through litigation.
Filing a claim with the other driver’s insurer
In cases where fault is not contested, the other driver’s insurer may offer a settlement within enough time to pay your medical bills before they become delinquent. Before taking this option, however, you should consult with an attorney. A quick settlement offer is also likely to be a low settlement offer. If it doesn’t meet your financial needs, it doesn’t matter how quickly the payment goes through.
Filing a claim with your own insurer
Depending on what kind of insurance coverage you have, you may be able to have your own insurer cover your medical bills rather than needing to pay out of pocket and seeking reimbursement.
Later on, if it becomes clear that the other driver was at fault for the accident and your injuries, your insurer may try to seek compensation from the other driver and/or their insurer for the money it paid on your behalf. This is a procedure known as insurance subrogation.
Seeking a medical lien with the hospital
If you simply cannot pay your medical bills out of pocket but believe that you are entitled to compensation in a personal injury lawsuit, the hospital may agree to what’s known as a medical lien. This is essentially a way to receive your care “on credit,” with the promise that your bills will be paid once you receive a settlement or jury award.
In many cases, a medical lien authorizes direct payment of a portion of your settlement/judgement to the healthcare provider. Not all healthcare providers will agree to give you a medical lien, so this isn’t always an option. In some cases, if you can show that you are working with a reputable personal injury attorney, the provider may be more willing to grant the lien because the possibility of a successful financial recovery seems higher.
Learn about all of your options by contacting our firm
Trying to pay for medical care after an accident can be confusing and scary. You may not know what options you have or how to exercise them. That’s why talking to the attorneys at Woods Williford, P.C., is so helpful. We will discuss your case in a free consultation, at which time we will also inform you of the various options you may have for covering medical care until your case is resolved.
To get started, contact us today to speak to one of our skilled and caring attorneys.