Cost of a Car Accident Settlement.
After you have been injured in an auto accident, it’s clear that the first thing you need to do is seek medical attention and ensure that you are OK. Some injuries do not become apparent until much later after the accident, so it is imperative that you undergo every necessary check. After all, your health is the most important thing.
Once you have received hospital treatment after a car accident or seen a healthcare provider, the medical bills will start to appear. You’ll get bills from the ambulance service used to rush you to the hospital, the ER doctor, the hospital, the radiology department, and so on.
Everyone knows they will be billed, but most people are often surprised by just how much they owe. They may be faced with unexpectedly huge medical bills which can be very problematic for most people.
How Do the Bills Get Paid?
In Florida, the beginning of your medical bills will be covered by your personal injury protection (PIP), or “no-fault” insurance. Your personal injury protection applies regardless of who was responsible for the accident, as Florida is a “no-fault” state.
However, PIP may not pay all your medical treatment bills. There are limits to what it covers and how much:
- $10,000 for medical bills
PIP will pay up to $10,000 for medical bills relating to bodily injury or sickness. In order to qualify for the whole sum, a physician, physician assistant, dentist, or an advanced nurse practitioner will need to determine that due to the person’s injuries, they had an emergency medical condition (EMC).
- $2,500 for medical bills – if you do not have an EMC
If your injuries are not deemed an emergency medical condition, you will only qualify for $2,500. The topic of EMCs has been under debate for a long time. This is because the exact process for diagnosing EMCs and what they are is rather vague.
- $10,000 for lost wages
If you’ve been injured in a car accident, you are likely unable to return to work. This can result in lost wages. PIP will pay up to $10,000 for lost wages so you can focus on getting your life back on track.
- $5,000 death benefits
If a loved one has unfortunately died in an auto accident, the immediate family is eligible to receive $5,000 in death benefits. This should help cover certain expenses, such as funeral costs.
One thing to note about PIP is that the law which governs it is designed in such a way that it will cover people even if they are uninsured, not driving, and even if the are not in the car. If a person is injured as a result of an auto accident, they should be covered by PIP.
As mentioned earlier, though, PIP may not cover everything, paying only 80% of any reasonable medical bills. Reasonable expenses include any medically necessary treatment, X-rays or other scans, surgery, and so on. It may also cover things like rehabilitative services, ambulance, nursing, and hospital services.
For several years now, a person looking for PIP coverage has a limited window of 14 days in which they must report their injuries to a medical professional. If they fail to do so, PIP coverage will be unavailable to them.
As such, PIP only pays for medical benefits if you receive care during the first 14 days after the accident. That is why it is extremely important that you go see a doctor as soon as possible.
Who Pays for the Medical Bills?
It is a fairly common misconception that attorneys pay their clients’ medical bills until their settlement comes in. However, this is not the case.
Attorney keep track of their clients’ medical bills as the case moves forward. They do this so they know the amount of damages to ask for. Ultimately, it is the injured person who is responsible for their own bills.
When it comes to property damage, either your auto insurance or the other driver’s should cover it. Medical bills, however, are an entirely different story.
As mentioned previously, your PIP insurance will cover up to 80% of your initial medical bills. Your health insurance may cover other medical bills, but it depends on the contract with your health insurance company. If you don’t have insurance and you exhaust your PIP, your lawyer may be able to find other medical financing.
If the other driver’s negligence is clearly the cause of the accident, their insurance company will pay for any additional medical expenses as a result of the settlement.
The insurer will likely offer you money early on, before you actually recover from your injuries. However, you should always decline this initial offer. Accepting it will release the other driver and their insurance company from any responsibility. As a result, they will not have to pay for any ongoing or future care that you receive.
Medical issues can often arise at a later time and if you have already accepted a payout, you will have to cover them, out-of-pocket. The best way to handle these situations is by getting the medical treatment you need before making any final deals.
Other types of insurance may also be available, such as medical payments coverage, or Med-Pay. While this is not a sure thing, if you do have it, you will receive at least $5,000. In some instances, you may also use Medicare or Medicaid if you have such insurance.
Insurance After an Auto Accident Can Be Confusing
Auto accident insurance contracts are often lengthy and complex, as auto insurance policies can include several different insurances.
Typically, car accidents likely involve four or even more types of insurance from several different companies. This is why it can be very useful to hire a car accident lawyer. They can help you efficiently use the insurance that is available to you. It can save you a lot of stress and headaches to have someone who understands the law by your side.
Sometimes, after people’s health insurance covers their bills, they are also awarded money for those specific bills. If you find yourself in this situation, you will need to pay the insurance company back the cost of a car accident settlement.
This is called subrogation. Its purpose is to ensure that people do not receive compensation for an injury twice. This may also happen if your private health insurer covers a bill and PIP also pays for it later.
How Long Before My Bills Are Paid?
Once you settle your case, you can pay any bills that PIP or other insurance did not cover. This may take months or even longer if your car accident case goes to trial. This is not uncommon, as these types of cases involve a lot of bureaucracy.
In most personal injury cases, the settlement process begins once the injured individual finishes their medical treatment and their attorney gathers every medical record and bill and sends them to the insurance company for review.
The process works this way for two reasons; first of all, your attorney will want to be certain that they are asking for enough financial compensation to cover your treatments and any losses. Secondly, it will be much easier to negotiate when there are no other variables – such as an upcoming surgery. This way, both your attorney and the insurance company have a complete picture of your case and can better negotiate a settlement.
How Do I Make Sure My Medical Bills Get Paid?
Whenever you receive any sort of medical bill, always send a copy to your lawyer. As mentioned earlier, they will keep track of all your bills and will know the total amount you have incurred and where you have received medical care. Your should always inform your laywer about the doctors you are seeing, what happens at your appointments, and when the doctors release you.
Your lawyer will keep track of all this on their own by studying your medical records, but it will make their jobs much easier if you speak to them directly and tell them what is going on.
After you have completed your treatment, your lawyer will request copies of every bill from every medical provider so that they may submit them to the responsible person’s insurance company.
It’s important to remember that just because you expect a settlement, it doesn’t mean that you do not have to pay medical bills until you receive the settlement. Do not allow bills to pile up without paying them. You need to remember that your lawyer is not paying those bills and you are responsible for them.
If you do not pay those bills, they can go to collections and harm your credit score. You should contact the medical providers and make sure that they are aware of your situation. You can explain that your bills are the result of an accident and you can ask them if they are willing to put your account on hold until you settle your car accident case and are able to pay the bills.
The bottom line is that your medical bills are your responsibility and you should take deliberate steps to pay them or postpone payments without it coming back to hurt you.
Do I Really Need a Personal Injury Attorney to Help With the Cost of a Car Accident Settlement?
An attorney has the knowledge and skills necessary to be of great help to you during your time of need. They will give you legal advice, keep track of all your records and associated costs of collision settlements and ensure that you pay them, and strive to be as efficient as possible. An attorney will also see to it that when everything is over, you receive the maximum possible compensation for your injuries.
At Palm Legal Group, we have helped thousands of car accident victims get full compensation. It can be a complicated and confusing process, but our skilled and experienced personal injury lawyers are with you every step of the way so you can focus on your recovery while we do our best to make sure that you receive maximum compensation.
Involved in an auto accident and in need of legal help? Palm Legal Group has a skilled team of lawyers who can get you the best possible settlement for your case.
Call us now at 1-561-781-9679