Car wrecks that cause injury can come in many forms — vehicle collisions, wrecks involving tractor trailers, motorcycle wrecks, and more. After you've exchanged car insurance information with the at-fault party, called your own insurance company to notify them to start the claims process, and sought medical care for your injuries, you may be wondering — who pays the medical bills after a car accident, and how can you be sure your medical care will be paid for?
Let's take a look.
Check Your Bodily Injury Liability Coverage
Dealing with the required repairs to your car (or even buying a new one, if insurance totals out your vehicle due to extensive damage) can be seriously stressful.
Add having to locate cash for deductible and out-of-pocket medical expenses, and it's no wonder you're worried about how to make ends meet.
This is where Bodily Injury Liability coverage comes into play. Bodily Injury Liability is insurance coverage for the at-fault driver designed to cover injuries caused to other individuals in a vehicular collision. This coverage extends to all drivers and passengers within a vehicle, and also pedestrians that might be injured by the at-fault insured.
South Carolina requires all cars be insured with a minimum of up to $25,000 in coverage for bodily injury or death per person, and $50,000 in for bodily injury or death per accident, but many policies cover higher amounts, so be sure to check your policy details.
Bodily Injury Liability covers medical costs, rehabilitation costs, hospital bills, payouts for pain and suffering, and helps with potential lost wages from being out of work for more serious injuries. It doesn't cover damage to vehicles or property — that's a different type of insurance usually included in auto insurance policies.
If you are involved in a car wreck in which you are not at fault, the other party's bodily injury liability coverage should pay for your medical treatment costs. If you are the at-fault party, your Bodily Injury Liability coverage will cover the medical bills of the other people involved.
It Probably Won't Happen Right Away.
While it's certainly possible that the other party's insurance would begin to process medical costs right away, it's not likely. Investigations into car wrecks that cause injuries tend to be somewhat lengthy, and it could take weeks, months, or even years in cases involving serious injuries for everything to be settled.
The claims agent working on behalf of the at-fault party's insurance company may offer you a small settlement upfront. These early offers rarely amount to enough to cover costs and once the offer is accepted and a release is signed there will be no additional opportunities to recover more money.
Let the claims agent know that you need to have a better understanding of what your treatment costs will add up to before you can accept a specific settlement amount, and ask what steps you need to take to prove the cost of your care to ensure all costs are covered.
Do not wait to seek medical care. Many injuries become harder to treat if care is delayed, so seek care immediately. Keep any and all documentation required of care you receive as a result of the car wreck, including:
- Prescription medications
- Hospital stays, if any
- Over-the-counter medicines (keep receipts)
- Emergency room visits
- Physical therapy
- Ambulance ride costs
- Follow-up care
- Therapy appointments
- Bills received related to the car wreck
- Statements from your health insurance company
- Any costs of transportation to and from medical appointments
If you receive documents at the doctor's office, ask them to provide you with an extra copy. If bills and other documents arrive through the mail, make copies as soon as possible.
Be sure that you always have the original copies of all medical bills safely stored in case of future needs, including statements from your health insurance company.
Some health insurance companies may require compensation for costs they paid out for your medical treatment, so it is essential to keep all documents of any kind relating to the car wreck and resulting injuries.
You'll likely have to cover deductible and out-of-pocket costs on your own and get reimbursed through the settlement. If these upfront expenses are difficult, inform your medical provider of your situation.
Some physicians and medical offices are willing to work with patients who are dealing with this complex and sometimes confusing process, and may be able to place a "hold" on your out-of-pocket expenses, to be paid when your settlement comes in.
If nothing else, you may be able to ensure that even higher treatment costs don't go into collections while you wait for a settlement to be finalized.
Speak With Legal Representation
The aftermath of a car wreck can be difficult to navigate on many different levels. Injured people are often asked to advocate for themselves entirely, without much help from auto insurance companies who are often more interested in streamlining expenses than in the experiences of the individuals involved in the wreck.
We recommend that you schedule a free consultation with legal representation, especially with someone who has experience dealing with automobile accidents and Personal Injury matters. They'll be able to sit down with you and your loved ones and walk you through what to expect in the future, what documents need to be saved, and to help you make the decisions that are right for you.
At Bluestein Attorneys, we've represented clients with just about every Personal Injury concern you can think of, from dog bites, to defective products, to medical malpractice, vehicle collisions, and more. Request your FREE consultation today by phone at (877) 524-4675 or contact us online at any time.