When you’re injured in an auto accident, the doctor may handle your medical bills with a claim on a lien. This means, the physician will generate a bill as you are treated, but you will not have to pay that bill. The doctor(s) will be paid at the time of settlement and by signing the lien, you’re assuring them that they will get paid once the case settles. Otherwise, your medical bills may be paid by your health insurance (if you have health insurance) or sometimes, clients have medical payments coverage on their auto policy. In the latter case, the bills can be paid as you go along, up to whatever the limits are of your coverage for medical payments.
It is extremely important in a personal injury case that you seek medical treatment as soon as possible after the accident. The number one thing that I tell my clients is, “Go to the doctor and get better.” The insurance company is going to scrutinize your treatment history. If there are gaps then that’s what they’re going to hang their hat on saying, “injured people go to the doctor! You must not be too injured if there’s a gap, especially in the beginning of treatment.” There’s always going to be an argument if you have a big gap, especially in the beginning. The insurance company will argue the accident is not what caused your injury and that you must have done something in those three to four weeks since the accident to injure yourself. Whether it’s true or not, it’s an argument that can be made.
We often see clients who have made the mistake of not getting timely medical attention, after they tried to handle a claim on their own. They speak with the insurance company that tells them they will get better in eight to twelve weeks. Now it’s been three months and they are still hurt. It also can take weeks start feeling pain, and because of the gap, the client is healing incorrectly which often times will then cause the healing process to be delayed.
That’s what happens in these cases, now you have a three-month gap in treatment because the insurance company gave you bad advice. The insurance company is not on your side. Remember, they’re on the side of their insured and they like to keep their money. They will argue if you were hurt, you’d be at the doctor, and then use your gap in treatment as a cause to not pay you as much.
In a personal injury, auto accident, you’re always able to choose your own providers, however, some doctors don’t like getting involved in treating people who were injured in an auto accident. In this instance, we can help our clients find a doctor that will help them and handle payments on a lien, or they can go through their health insurance to find a provider.
You should be mindful of what you share with medical professionals regarding your accident. It is safe to share with the hospital how you were injured and how the accident happened. If possible, it is advised to explain to the hospital staff how your body reacted to being hit. What direction did your body move? What did your body hit inside the car, such as did your head hit the window? Did your airbag explode? Did it hit you? Did your seat belt lock up? All of this is great to share with your physician. Generally the hospital is the first place that will treat you when you are injured so it is important to get all the above information in the records.
However, you definitely do not want to tell them you were at fault. Anything you say, good or bad, will end up being in the hospital records. Only share medically pertinent information.
Uninsured Or Underinsured
It is possible to get financial recovery in cases where the other party is uninsured or underinsured if you have the proper motorist coverage. One of the most important coverages to have on your auto policy is uninsured motorist coverage, which also includes underinsured motorist coverage. This means, if you get injured by a party that does not have insurance, or not enough insurance to cover what the value of the claim is worth, then you can use your own auto insurance policy to fill in the gap.
In the case of underinsured motorist coverage, it would fill in the gap from whatever the other party’s limits were, up to what yours are. For instance, if the other party had a minimum policy of $15,000 per person and your case is worth $30,000, the at fault party would be uninsured by $15,000. If you have a $30,000/$60,000 uninsured motorist coverage limits, you would be able to use your $30,000 minus the $15,000 that other party pays to get up to another $15,000 for your injuries. If the other party was uninsured, your insurance would cover you as if the other party had the same auto coverage as you. For this reason, I suggest to my clients that they at least get uninsured motorist coverage limits of the same amount as their liability coverage and that each be $50,000/100,000 at minimum if they can afford it.
For more information on Payment of Medical Bills Before Settlement, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (562) 600-0807 today.