Car accident victims often face a financial crunch when they are awaiting a settlement. Even if you know that you have a strong case, and you are likely to get money, you would still have a considerable amount of costs piling up in the meantime.
Even if you have health insurance, you may still have a high deductible or copayments for which you are responsible. The prospect of an eventual settlement may not do much to help you when you are facing an immediate short-term financial crunch. Contact our car accident attorneys in Wilmington at Horton & Mendez to discuss your situation.
Post-Accident Medical Care You May Be Billed for
You may need the following medical care in the wake of your car accident injuries:
- Surgical procedures
- Hospital stays
- Magnetic resonance imaging tests
- CT scans
These add up, and quickly.
You Must Pay Your Medical Bills After a Car Accident
In the end, you are the one who has the ultimate legal responsibility to pay your medical bills, no matter what. It does not matter that you may be expecting a settlement in the future.
When you seek medical services, you sign an agreement with the provider that obligates you to pay. Whether the provider will seek immediate payment is another story. Everything may depend on the facts and circumstances of your case.
Whatever you pay in medical expenses, you are entitled to be paid back in a settlement agreement. The party that is responsible for your car accident injuries must cover all of the related damages, including your medical expenses. First, you need to prove that they were to blame for the accident.
Nonetheless, you may need to negotiate and bring together coverage from various sources until you receive your settlement money. There may be a combination of arrangements that you can make to help get you through.
Med-Pay Coverage Can Pay Some of Your Bills
The first thing to do is check whether you have Med-Pay coverage as part of your policy. Hopefully, you spent the extra money to purchase this coverage because it can pay for up to the first $10,000 of your medical bills after a car accident. Med-Pay would function as a first-party insurance to pay medical bills that are immediately due. Under North Carolina law, Med-Pay is an optional coverage that is available for a small extra premium.
You Can Negotiate with Doctors and Hospitals
Your medical providers may or may not be flexible when dealing with your situation. Some may allow you to pay once you are paid. Others may allow you some grace period to pay your bills.
A personal injury attorney will often negotiate with doctors on behalf of their clients to reach an arrangement that allows you to stay afloat until you have the money to pay your bills. Some doctors may not expect payment right away and may be willing to work with you. It is easier to turn these matters over to a lawyer because they are difficult for you to handle when you are dealing with your own injuries.
Health Insurance Companies May Pay Expenses
You may not have had to pay all of your medical bills upfront. Your health insurance company may have paid their share of your costs, or you may have been able to negotiate delayed payment with your doctor. Both may now have a lien on your settlement for the costs that they have already paid.
They are entitled to be paid first before you are able to receive money from the proceeds of your case. It is critical to keep this in mind when you are negotiating a settlement. The last thing that you want is to not have enough money left for yourself. Your prior expenses mean little to the insurance company, which is trying to minimize its own expenses.
However, the good news is that North Carolina law protects you in that you must receive at least 50% of your settlement, even after attorney’s costs and liens. This law does not apply to your own cost obligations, including your co-payments.
In addition, North Carolina law prevents privately funded health insurance plans from placing a lien against your settlement. This may still not stop insurance companies from trying to get money from the proceeds of your claim. Your personal injury attorney may need to fight off the insurance company.
Know Your Medical Costs Before You Settle
It is essential that you have a handle on both your past and future medical costs relating to your car accident injuries. Once you sign a settlement agreement, you will have released the insurance company from any future obligations with respect to your claim.
If you settle your claim for too little, you will be the one who pays the price because you cannot go back for more money. Therefore, you need an attorney who can help you estimate the value of your claim, so you know how much to seek in a settlement agreement.
Although it may be difficult, you must still get the medical care that you need after a car accident. Injuries can grow worse if they are untreated. Further, the insurance company could argue that you did not do everything in your power to get better and claim that you caused your injuries to get worse.
Contact a Car Accident Attorney in Wilmington, NC
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, the attorney at Horton & Mendez will pull out all the stops to fight on your behalf. Our job is to pull up the red tape that insurance companies specialize in, removing barriers to your getting full financial compensation.
Medical bills after a car accident can be steep, and we can help you. You can begin the legal process by calling a lawyer today at 910-405-7751 or messaging us online. We can start with a free consultation, where we will explain the path forward.