In most personal injury cases, medical bills represent the greatest share of damages. While a personal injury claim may take anywhere from several weeks to years to resolve, you have medical bills that need to be paid now. What can you do? This is especially concerning for people who do not have health insurance and those who cannot work after a car accident. There are options that allow you to seek treatment for your injuries without paying the provider while your claim is pending. Here’s what you should know.
Medical Expenses in a Personal Injury Claim
Medical expenses in a personal injury claim typically include all reasonable and necessary medical expenses incurred by the victim of an accident. The at-fault party is responsible for paying the victim’s medical expenses, which usually means the at-fault party’s insurance company needs to approve the claim and offer a settlement.
Medical expenses include past expenses that you have already paid (or have been paid by your health insurance company) and future medical expenses. This includes:
- Hospital bills
- Diagnostic tests
- Therapy and rehabilitation
- Prescription medication
- Some insurance-related costs like co-pays
- Management of pain and suffering
- Transportation to and from medical treatment
It’s vital to keep records of all bills and receipts throughout the process to prove your medical expenses.
Getting Care Without Health Insurance
If you do not have health insurance and were hurt in a car crash, many medical providers accept a “letter of protection” or LOP, a legal document usually issued by an attorney that states that the cost of services rendered related to your accident will be paid out of the personal injury proceeds you are eventually awarded. In exchange for the LOP, the provider will defer payment while the claim is pending.
Some medical providers will even agree to place a hold on your account. With a hold agreement, the provider agrees to not contact collection agencies (which damages your credit) while you agree to pay the medical bills once your injury claim is settled.
Getting Care With Health Insurance
If you have insurance, your health insurance provider will likely pay for services rendered. Depending on who was at fault for the accident, the provider likely retains the right to seek reimbursement for the medical expenses from the proceeds of your injury claim.
Understanding Medical Liens
A medical lien gives the lien holder (such as a doctor or hospital) a security interest and legal right to recover payment for the medical services rendered associated with your injuries. In many cases, your personal injury lawyer will be able to negotiate with the lien holder to accept a reduced amount on the lien. This is essential as the lien amount will reduce your recovery from your accident and most providers automatically demand full value for their services, not a reduced charge.
Covering Out-of-Pocket Expenses
You will likely have many out-of-pocket expenses throughout the claims process, including prescription medication, transportation to seek medical care, and more. You may be able to seek immediate compensation for necessary and reasonable out-of-pocket medical expenses resulting from the accident from the at-fault party’s insurance company.
Contact a Los Angeles Personal Injury Lawyer
It’s important to consult an experienced personal injury attorney if you have suffered serious injuries in an accident. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on paying medical expenses, reaching an agreement with providers, or seeking immediate compensation for some of your medical expenses to reduce the financial burden you are facing after a serious accident.