Accidents can happen anywhere—on the road, at work, or at the grocery store. Whether the accident is a motor vehicle accident or a slip-and-fall, it can have devastating health consequences for anyone involved.
When the accident is not your fault, one of the most common questions that arises is, “Who pays for my medical bills?” The answer can be complicated depending on the specific factual circumstances of the accident and the availability of health insurance, worker’s compensation, or other insurance. The best way to get the most relevant information specific for your case is to call our Firm for a free consultation about the facts of your claim and the injuries you have sustained.
Who’s responsible to pay for my medical bills if I’m not at fault?
The simple answer is you, the patient. However, if you were not the cause of the accident, you may be entitled to reimbursement from the at-fault party – whether through a negotiated settlement or after a trial.
Legally, you are responsible for the medical bills. When you go to an emergency room or hospital after an accident, medical providers will often require you to sign an agreement regarding payment before providing care. Even if you do not sign anything, the medical provider may still be entitled to recover the reasonable value of any services that are provided to you. The provider may also file a lien against you in the county records for an outstanding bill relating to the accident.
However, if you are not at fault for the accident, you are entitled to recover medical expenses paid or incurred in the past from the at-fault party and their insurance company.
Keep in mind you are also entitled to recover the medical expenses that will likely be incurred in the future. Insurance companies will not tell you this because they do not want to pay for the cost of future care. That is why it is critically important to get legal representation right away from an experience personal injury lawyer, who can develop the evidence needed to prove you may need future medical treatment. (Proving that you will likely incur future medical expenses will require testimony from an expert. Picking the right expert for your case is something in which we are well-versed and experienced.)
If the insurance company refuses to pay, our Firm will file a lawsuit and take the case to trial to make them take responsibility. Although this can be a years-long process, it is sometimes a necessary one. Only a jury can force the insurance company to pay your medical bills if they refuse to take responsibility.
What if I don’t want, or don’t have the money, to pay for my medical bills?
If a bill is left outstanding, the medical provider may take legal action against you. It may file a lien against you in the public records of the county where the medical care was provided. It may send the bill to a collections agency. Though rare, it may even file legal action against you for the recovery of the bill. All of these actions can have serious negative consequences for your creditworthiness and your ability, for example, to obtain a loan or purchase a home.
When our Firm becomes aware that a medical bill has been sent to collections, or a lien has been filed, our lawyers will send out letters to the medical providers asking them to stop collection efforts. This will put them on notice of the legal claim against the at-fault party. Though the obligation to pay the medical bill does not go away, bill collector typically stop calling once they know that a lawyer is involved in the case. At that point, they will deal directly with our office, rather than harass you for payment.
When our Firm settles a case, we make careful efforts to resolve any liens and outstanding medical bills in accordance with your wishes, so that you can rest assured that no bill collectors will be hounding you for payment once the case is closed.
Is there someone else who can pay my medical bills?
If you have private health insurance through the marketplace or your employer, you can use your own insurance to cover the cost of medical treatment. However, you will still be responsible for deductibles and co-pays. Our Firm would seek reimbursement of any out-of-pocket expenses you incur, even if you obtain treatment on your own insurance.
In an automobile accident, you may also be able to use your own insurance to help cover the cost of your medical care. Many people carry personal injury protection or medical payment benefits that will reimburse you for the cost of medical care relating to an accident. These are “no-fault” coverages. This means that if you have purchased the coverages, the benefits are available to you even if you are at fault for the accident.
If the accident is an on-the-job incident, your employer may have a worker’s compensation insurance policy that will cover the medical care for those injuries. If your employer does not have worker’s compensation, it may sponsor an employee benefit plan that will cover some medical treatment.
Finally, if there is no health or other insurance available, then our Firm may be able to help. We work with highly qualified doctors and therapists who provide medical treatment when an accident is not the patient’s fault and will provide treatment without out-of-pocket cost. The providers we work will instead withhold collection efforts until the resolution of the case.
If you have been injured because of someone else’s negligence, you should not be forced to carry the burden of the expenses for your medical care. Our Firm can help you get reimbursement from the at-fault party’s insurance company for the cost of treatment needed because of an accident. And if you cannot afford treatment, we can help you find highly qualified doctors to get you back on your feet. Please call us, day or night, for a free consultation regarding your injury. We are here to help you.