How to Handle Medical Bills While You Wait for a Car Accident Settlement
If you have an injury due to a Texas car accident, you should seek medical attention immediately. Your top priority should always be your health even though you probably have thousands of other concerns pulling your attention in a thousand different directions. One of these many concerns is most likely the medical bills that are bound to arrive after you seek treatment for your injury.
Common Bills Associated with a Texas Car Accident:
Depending on the car accident and the seriousness of any injuries incurred, you could expect to see a number of different medical bills from various providers and services. If an ambulance was necessary at the scene of the accident, a bill will arrive from the ambulance service that transported you from the scene to the hospital. The ER doctor will bill, the hospital will bill, the radiology department will bill…and they’ll bill fairly quickly. For serious injuries, follow-up visits, tests, and prescriptions will result in additional bills. Injuries that persist may require physical therapy, chiropractic treatment, or even in-home medical treatment. It’s easy to see how the medical bills following an injury can start to stack up and be completely overwhelming.
Who Handles Medical Bills While You Wait for Your Car Accident Settlement?
Your personal injury attorney keeps track of your medical bills as the personal injury case progresses so they can calculate the accurate amount of damages, but they do not pay the bills. The injured person who received treatment is the one ultimately responsible for forking over the dough. After a car accident, damages to vehicles tend to be covered by insurance companies pretty quickly. However, medical bills tend to take a bit longer. Since negotiating a car accident settlement doesn’t happen overnight, many turn to their Personal Injury Protection (PIP).
What is Personal Injury Protection and What Does it Do?
Most Texans carry $2,500 in coverage under Personal Injury Protection (PIP), the minimum coverage that insurance companies are required to “offer” in the state of Texas when selling an auto insurance policy. PIP can be used to cover immediate medical bills (up to 80%) while waiting for the settlement. Health insurance may cover the remaining 20% if available (and depending on the contract). If PIP is exhausted (or not available) and you do not have health insurance, you may want to ask your personal injury attorney to help you find medical financing options.
PIP can also be used to replace lost income due to injury and cover reasonable household duties you cannot handle due to injury. If you are in the place to purchase PIP, get as much as your insurance will sell you. Most will sell up to $10,000 in coverage and some offer even more.
Why Doesn’t the At Fault Driver Have to Pay Your Medical Bills?
If you’re wondering why the at-fault driver isn’t held responsible for paying your medical bills, we don’t blame you. When the other driver is obviously negligent, their insurance company will ultimately be liable for medical costs and will end up paying for them in the final settlement. Some insurance companies will offer a settlement early in the process – well before you have recovered from your injuries.
It is almost never a good idea to accept this offer. Accepting the offer means the insurance company and the at-fault driver are released from any additional liability. They would have zero liability for ongoing care or future care. This would leave you with all the costs for future medical issues or new issues the doctor may discover as treatment progresses. It is usually a better idea to get all the treatment you need before coming to terms on a final settlement.
When Do All the Medical Bills Get Paid?
Most of the bills that are not covered by PIP or another type of insurance are paid when the personal injury case settles. Reaching a settlement in a personal injury case following a Texas car accident could take months and in some cases, longer if there are disputes regarding the details of the case. If you are tempted to jump the gun and settle early, remember that there’s a reason it’s done this way. In fact, there are two reasons:
1) your personal injury attorney needs to be sure that they have all the information to calculate an appropriate amount of compensation that will cover all treatments and losses, and
2) negotiations are far more likely to succeed when variables are eliminated (like the possibility of an upcoming surgery). When both sides have a full picture of the case and what it involves, negotiations are much more likely to succeed.
If you are in a Texas car accident and you are facing a growing pile of medical bills, don’t wait! Get in touch with Carrollton’s Hudson Law Firm immediately. We put the “personal” back into personal injury law.