How Are Medical Bills Paid After Car Accident?
Automobile Accidents - June 14, 2021
The number one priority of any person involved in a vehicle accident must be to seek medical care. However, who will end up paying medical bills after a vehicle accident occurs?
In the long run, the answer to this question should be that the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier will pay the medical bills. However, that does not necessarily help a crash victim in the meantime. Here, we want to discuss how medical bills get paid in the immediate aftermath of a vehicle accident as well as in the weeks and months that follow the collision.
Paying for Immediate Medical Bills After a Crash
In the aftermath of many car accidents, there is no time to think about how medical bills will be paid. That is because medical emergencies have to be handled immediately. If a person has to take an ambulance to the hospital or if they have to go directly to the emergency room with the assistance of a family member or friend, there cannot be any consideration about whether or not they will be able to afford the bills.
Unfortunately, this often means that the crash victim will be responsible for handling any incoming medical bills in the immediate aftermath of the incident, regardless of whether or not another party caused the crash.
However, the ultimate goal in these situations is to have the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier provide compensation for these immediate emergency medical expenses. In most situations, insurance settlements will cover these expenses.
Who Pays for Continued Care Before a Settlement is Reached?
After an initial emergency medical situation is over, it is not uncommon for crash victims to need additional care. This can include various follow-up visits with the doctor, different types of physical therapy or rehabilitation, medical device assistance, prescription medications, and more.
This continued care can become costly, can cause problems if any vehicle accident claims are not settled right away. That being said, it is imperative that car accident victims never settle their claim until after their doctor says they have reached maximum medical improvement. If a claim is settled before this point, it will be impossible to go back and get compensation later on if the injuries end up being worse or if additional care is needed.
Medical providers will often agree to render care to a car accident victim so long as they are guaranteed payment after a settlement or jury verdict is returned. This could mean that the health care provider places a medical lien against any eventual settlement or jury verdict. A medical lien guarantees repayment in the event the claim is successful. However, if a claim is not successful, the injury victim will be responsible for covering the medical expenses out-of-pocket.
Payment After a Settlement
After a car accident settlement has been reached or a jury verdict has been rendered, the crash victim will typically receive the payment either in one lump sum or in a structured settlement typically paid monthly. When the settlement comes through, medical bills and attorney fees will be paid first, and the crash victim will receive the remainder of the compensation.
If the crash victim’s personal insurance carrier paid for any of the medical bills, then the personal insurance carrier will likely be entitled to repayment through subrogation. In other words, they will be looking for repayment for the compensation that they already provided for the victim’s medical care.
What if Both Drivers Are At-Fault?
Securing compensation can become even more complicated if more than one driver was at fault for the incident. The good news is that Illinois operates under a “modified comparative negligence” system. This means that a person can still recover compensation even if they are partially at fault, so long as they are not 51% or more responsible for the incident. However, the total amount of compensation a person is awarded will be reduced based on their percentage of fault. This can affect the overall compensation that a person receives.