How to Recover Medical Expenses After a Car Accident

Last updated on: September 6, 2022

If you have been injured in a car accident, do not wait for the other driver to contact you about your medical expenses. The only way to be reimbursed is to take action. However, various factors affect the avenue you must take to recover compensation for your medical expenses after a car accident.

Where Did the Accident Happen?

Whether the accident happened while you were commuting or at work impacts the kind of compensation you can receive. If you were commuting, file a claim against the person who caused the accident. If you were working when you were struck by a car, then you may be able to pursue a claim through worker’s compensation.

Paying medical bills after work-related accidents.

Worker’s compensation is an insurance program for workers. All states except Texas require employers to carry worker’s compensation. 

When you work for employers that carry worker’s compensation, you cannot sue your employers for negligence if you are injured on the job. Rather, you must report the accident to your employer.

Typically, worker’s compensation covers up to two-thirds of your salary while you are unable to work, but this reimbursement is not usually taxable. The medical expenses you incur directly because of your job are covered through worker’s compensation.

Note that most employers do not have to provide workers’ compensation to workers classified as independent contractors. This excludes a large portion of American workers—as many as seventeen million.

Auto Insurance Coverage and/or Health Insurance Coverage.

It is best to seek medical care immediately. Some accident victims wait to get medical attention in the mistaken belief that their insurance company will refer them to a doctor, but this will not happen. 

You should seek help just as you would for any other type of injury and do it as soon as possible. Only after receiving medical care should you contact the insurance company to report your injuries. 

Insurance companies are like any other business: They are trying to make a profit. This means they will do all they can to avoid paying accident victims, including string them along. If enough time passes between the time of the accident and the point at which the injured individual seeks compensation, the company can argue that something else caused the injury. 

The companies are aware that most people are unfamiliar with how the insurance industry works; this ignorance allows them to get away with stalling tactics. The insurance company’s goal is to settle for as little as possible. Therefore, victims should avoid agreeing to any settlements prior to talking to an accident attorney

Can my insurance company take part in a personal injury verdict?

Depending on the state you live in, your insurance company could take part in your personal injury claim. This is because the insurance company covers your medical expenses if you are injured or sick. 

If your injury or illness is caused by someone else, then the other party’s insurance should cover your injuries. Therefore, your insurance company has a stake in your personal injury verdict, and the same issues of liability and damages that matter to you matter to your insurance company. 

You might have also agreed to certain terms in your insurance policy. To fully understand your rights after a car accident, request a copy of the policy from the insurance company. Your car accident lawyer can review the policy with you and help you decide what to do next. 

Health insurance: primary and secondary coverage

The distinction between primary and secondary coverage matters when you have more than one insurance plan that could potentially cover your medical bills. For example, you might carry your child who is under the age of twenty-six on your insurance plan, but your child might have her own health insurance through her employer. In that case, her primary coverage is through her plan with her employer and her secondary coverage is through your plan.

People who have two health plans have to pay two premiums and two deductibles, but a secondary plan can help you cover expenses that would ordinarily be out-of-pocket. Your primary insurance covers your medical expenses until you hit your coverage limits. Then, your secondary insurance might cover some of your remaining costs.

Who Has to Pay for Medical Bills Paid after a Car Accident?

Can the responsible party be held liable for the medical care costs?

You might be able to prove that the other party was responsible for the accident. This is typically accomplished through a negligence claim. When you file a negligence claim, you must show that:

  1. The other party owed you a duty of care.
  2. The other party breached the standard of that duty of care.
  3. You suffered an injury for which you can receive compensation.
  4. The other party’s breach directly caused your injury.

People generally owe each other the duty of care of a reasonable person. That means that you take the level of care that a reasonable person would take under similar circumstances. A reasonable person prevents foreseeable harm.

A person breaches the standard of care when they act in a way that does not align with the standard of care. For example, motorists are expected to slow down in inclement weather. If a driver fails to slow down, then he or she has breached the duty of care.

However, in order to successfully prove your negligence claim, you must have also suffered a compensable injury. If you incurred medical bills because of your injury, you almost certainly received an injury for which you could receive compensation, since a physical injury typically meets this requirement. 

It can be hard to link your injury directly to the other party’s breach of duty. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you do that.

Paying medical bills after a car accident in a “fault” state

In “fault” states, the driver who causes the accident must pay for the damages. But the question of who was at fault is sometimes not answered until the claim is resolved. That means that the insurance might not cover you while the claim is ongoing. 

How are bills paid in a “no-fault” state?

There are fewer “no-fault” states than “fault” states, but they present an exception to the typical payment system. In “no-fault” states, your automobile insurance company covers your medical expenses regardless of whether you were at fault for the accident. 

What about medical liens or hospital liens?

A medical lien or hospital lien lets you receive care from a hospital even if you are not insured. The hospital or medical insurance company puts a lien against a personal injury settlement so that it is compensated for its services when you win the judgment. 

A lien is typically an option for an uninsured patient to continue receiving care. The procedure will vary based on whether your state has a statute regulating the use of hospital liens. 

Average cost of medical bills after a car accident

Medical bills can accumulate quickly. An ambulance ride alone can cost more than one thousand dollars, and the trip to the emergency room may cost a minimum of three thousand dollars. Hospitalization often costs more than fifty-six thousand dollars.

You may need to figure out how to pay for treatment of your accident injuries now and get compensation from the at-fault party later.

If you are covered by health insurance, you can likely use the insurance to cover your medical expenses while you are receiving treatment before your personal injury case is settled. However, you must pay your insurance company back when the matter is settled with the other party. If you are eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, you might be able to use that to pay your medical bills.

The hospital might cooperate with you and allow you to settle your claim before it bills you, much like the hospital lien. If it turns out the driver who hit you was uninsured, your own insurance might cover your bills.

Can I get compensation for future pain and medical expenses?

Receiving compensation for future pain and expenses

When you calculate your damages for your personal injury claim, you need to include amounts for pain and suffering you currently experience, the total cost of your medical expenses, missed wages from time off work, and other expenses. However, you should also include the costs of your future pain and expenses. 

Your attorney can help you calculate your future expenses by anticipating your need for ongoing care. Namely, you should know whether you will need future physical therapy, counseling, chiropractic appointments, or counseling and include these expenses in your damages.

The defendant doesn’t have to pay your medical bills on an ongoing basis

Keep in mind that the defendant must only pay you once after you settle. If you sustain more expenses from the accident later, you will not be able to ask the defendant for recurring payments. 

Because of this inability to recover later, you should seek maximum compensation when you have the opportunity. Speak with an attorney at Zinda Law Group to learn how much your case is worth. Call (800) 863-5312, and schedule a free case evaluation today. 

Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment.