Who Pays My Medical Bills After an Accident?
It’s bad enough that you were in an accident. But you also suffered injuries, and now you find out that even though you didn’t cause the accident, you have to pay for your own medical bills — how fair is that?
Maybe not fair, but unfortunately, it’s usually a reality, at least until your case is settled and the liable party accepts responsibility, which can take months or even years. So who pays the bills in the meantime?
If your accident was work related, your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance may pay your medical bills, whether or not you caused the accident. No co-pays or deductibles will apply, and the coverage for accident-related medical bills will continue indefinitely, although you may be required to treat only with employer-approved medical providers for a specific amount of time.
The Medical Pay Coverage on Your Own Auto Insurance
Medical pay, commonly known as med-pay, is an additional coverage that you can add to your car insurance policy that will pay accident-related medical bills up to a specific limit chosen by you when you buy the coverage. Med-pay will cover you and whoever else is riding in your automobile in the event of an accident, no matter who was at fault. In Colorado, insurance companies must include a minimum of $5000 of medical payments coverage on all automobile insurance policies issued in the state, but consumers may refuse med-pay in if they do it in writing, or in whatever manner they applied for the policy.
Typical medical pay limits can be between $1000 and $10,000; the coverage is usually relatively inexpensive and pays your bills right away without co-pays, deductibles or limits on what providers can provide treatment. But unfortunately, in the case of a serious accident, it may not take long for med-pay coverage to be used up, whether or not your accident-related bills are all paid.
Your Health Insurance
If you were involved in a non-work or non-vehicle related accident, your medical bills may be paid by your public or private health insurance plan.
If you suffered injuries in an automobile accident, your health insurance plan may pick up your accident-related medical bills after your med-pay coverage is exhausted, although co-payments, deductibles and co-insurance will likely apply, depending on your coverage.
Your Own Pocket
If your medical pay coverage is exhausted and you don’t have health insurance, you’ll be expected to pay your bills yourself. Even if you have health insurance, it will rarely cover your medical bill’s first dollar the way medical payments coverage does, so you will be responsible for co-pays, deductibles and co-insurance.
If a lawsuit arises out of your accident, your medical providers may agree to carry your balance until the case is settled, although they might choose to add interest to it. Your personal injury attorney has the ability to get the interest charges waived or reduced when your case settles, depending on the strength of his negotiation skills and relationship with the providers.
The Other Driver’s Auto Insurance — Eventually
If the accident wasn’t your fault, you can bring a lawsuit against the responsible party to recover accident-related past and future medical expenses as well as lost wages for pain and suffering.
But you’ll have to be patient, as a personal injury claim can take several years to resolve, either through settlement or trial, and your bills will not be paid until the matter is closed. And if you do recover compensation in the lawsuit, your health insurance contract will likely require you to reimburse your carrier for all accident-related medical bills paid on your behalf.
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