Who Pays Medical Bills In A Personal Injury Accident In California?
Personal Injury Attorney
Who pays medical bills in a California car accident?
After an injury accident, seeking medical care is the first thing you should do. But, bills will start to add up very quickly. Between the ambulance, hospital, x-rays, doctor visits, chiropractic care and more, you may owe a lot of money for something that was not even your fault.
When you get injured, the last thing you want to think about is medical bills. But, it's important to know who has to pay what after an accident. Hurt and unable to work, you may ask yourself:
How do I manage medical bills after an accident?
Please read on to find out.
Who pays my accident medical bills while my case is still open?
Even if it's not your fault, you're still responsible to pay your personal injury accident medical bills as they are incurred. Unfortunately, California law does not have a way for the wrongdoer to pay your bills as they are incurred. If you resolve your claim, or file a lawsuit, your damages are paid by the person or entity who caused the harm to you. But, damages are not paid step by step.
So, while your injury case is still pending, you'll still have to pay or make arrangements regarding your medical bills. Bearing the burden of worrying about your medical bills can add to the already stressful situation of being injured.
Does the insurance company pay me or the hospital?
Insurance companies usually make one check at the end of the case. If you have an attorney, the check will be in your name and the attorney's name. The insurance will mail the check to your attorney. Insurance companies don't pay the hospital directly.
If the hospital, or other medical care provider, tells the insurance that they have a lien against your settlement, the insurance company may also include the hospital or other medical care provider's name on your check.
Do I have to pay my medical bills from an accident settlement?
Regardless of whether the insurance company puts the hospital name on your check, or not, you still have to pay your medical bills from your settlement. And it's unethical for your attorney not to pay medical bills that they know about from your insurance company check.
Do I have to pay back the insurance if I got a settlement?
If you get hurt and it was your fault, your health insurance will probably pay your bills. They won't ask you to pay them back.
But, if you get hurt and it was not your fault, your health insurance will probably pay your bills. But they will require you to pay them back if you get any money from the other person.
This is because the accident was not caused by you, it was caused by someone else. Your health insurance may also tell the other person's insurance company that they have a lien against your settlement. The other person's insurance may add your health insurance as a payee on your settlement check.
Health insurance companies, hospitals, and chiropractors want to get paid. This is why they may may issue a lien to try and get reimbursed in an effort to recover these costs from you. A lien is a claim that serves to enforce repayment of a debt.
A medical provider, for example, a hospital or doctor's office, can issue this type of lien. A lien may also be issued by an insurance company, such as health insurance or car insurance, as well as the government (Medicaid, Medicare, and workers' compensation).
Can medical bills negatively affect my credit?
If you know that a hospital, doctor or health insurance provider has a medical lien on your personal injury case, it's best to hire an attorney to represent you. California laws about medical liens can be complicated. A good attorney will do everything they can to try and get your liens reduced and take care of them for good. If you do not take care of a lien, the lienholder may sue you or damage your credit.
How do I pay for this unexpected medical bill due to an accident?
Here are some ways that unexpected personal injury medical bills get paid after an accident:
Most health insurance companies will pay your medical bills even if someone else is to blame for you getting hurt. But they will almost always require you to reimburse them from any settlement you get from the wrongdoer. Having a good attorney can really help when it comes to dealing with your own health insurance, because we have a lot of experience negotiating with health insurance companies.
Lien - one that you signed
Some private doctors and chiropractors will provide care to you under a lien that you sign. The lien is a promise to pay the bill from any settlement you get from the other person's insurance. Usually these doctors and chiropractors also want your attorney to sign the lien too.
Lien - one that is imposed on you
Some hospitals impose a lien, even if an injured person never signed it.
How does a hospital lien work?
There are strict procedures that hospitals have to follow in order to impose a valid lien. Hospitals owned by the county also have extra rules. If they don't follow those procedures, the lien may not be valid. A good attorney knows medical lien law and how to verify whether a hospital lien is valid or not.
Medi-Cal and Medicare
Does Medical cover accident bills?
If Medi-Cal or Medicare paid any of your bills before your case settled, they will require that you pay them back. There are strict procedures that have to be followed when it comes to these types of liens. A good attorney knows just what to do to take care of a Medi-Cal or Medicare lien demanding reimbursement for personal injury medical bill payments.
This is what's called “med pay.” It's coverage that you had to add to your policy when you bought it. Sometimes this is called no-fault insurance because it will pay bills, up to your limit, even if you yourself caused the accident. Not everyone has this type of coverage. But, your own car insurance usually want you to pay them back if you get a personal injury settlement from the other person.
Will I have to pay my accident bills out of my own pocket?
Sometimes there is just no insurance available to pay personal injury bills while a case is pending. In those situations, an injured person may have to decide whether to pay medical bills out of their own pocket, in order to protect their credit. If reported to the credit agencies, unpaid medical bills can damage your credit for years.
When a person pays personal injury medical bills out of their own pocket, an injured person should get reimbursed for those out of pocket payments from any personal injury accident settlement. If you have a good attorney on your injury case, you should always talk to them first before you pay out of pocket. There may be another way to handle the bill that might be easier on you.
Can you settle an accident case without a lawyer?
My name is Renée Yvonne Gardner. I am a San José accident attorney at my law office, Gardner Law. I am here to help.
It's possible to settle an accident case without a lawyer, but it's not a good idea if you have anything except a minor case.
It's a better idea to have an attorney when you're dealing with medical bills and liens. That way, you do your best to protect yourself. Let a good attorney fight for you and work to resolve your medical bills and liens.
In my 15 years as an attorney practicing California personal injury and wrongful death law, I have handled different types of traffic crashes and injuries, from minor cases to a wrongful death cases. I speak Spanish - hablo español.
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