After you have been injured in an accident in California, you might wonder who will pay your medical bills that are incurred to treat your injuries. California is a fault state, which means that a person must be found to be responsible for the accident before his or her insurance company will be required to pay damages. While winning a verdict or securing a settlement may provide financial relief later, the possibility of a future settlement or verdict doesn’t change the fact that your medical bills may be piling up during the interim. How your medical expenses will be paid depends on your accident type and the insurance that is involved.
The general rule: Defendants are not required to pay your medical bills as they are incurred
The most important thing to understand is that you will be responsible for paying your medical bills as they accrue. California law does not require defendants to pay for your medical expenses while your lawsuit is pending. Instead, your past and future accident-related medical expenses will be a part of the damages your personal injury attorney will seek to recover on your behalf.
Who pays for medical bills in California motor vehicle accidents
If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident that was the fault of another driver, the general rule as previously described will apply to you unless you also have the optional coverage that is known as med pay as an additional coverage on your insurance policy. If you opted for this coverage when you purchased your auto insurance policy, it will pay for your medical expenses up to the policy’s limits. While these policies may be purchased with limits ranging from $1,000 up to $100,000 or more, a majority of people who have them have policies with limits of $10,000 or less.
Premises liability accidents
If your case is one involving premises liability, you will most likely be responsible for paying for your own medical bills as you incur them. If the owner has a policy with med pay coverage, then his or her carrier may pay your medical bills up to the limits of the policy. If your medical expenses exceed that limit, then the bills will be your responsibility.
If you suffer an injury while working on the job, you are able to seek compensation by applying for workers’ compensation benefits through your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance carrier. In that case, the insurance company will be responsible for paying for your medical expenses in their entirety. Work injury accidents do not require you to pay anything towards your medical expenses, including deductibles or prescription costs. You might also be able to recover reimbursements for the expenses related to your travel to and from any needed medical appointments for the treatment of your injuries.
Boating accident injuries
Very few boat insurance policies have med pay coverage options available. This means that you will hold the responsibility for paying for medical expenses related to an accident involving a boat.
Your own medical insurance
For a majority of people, their own personal health insurance companies pay for the medical bills as they accrue, minus any deductibles that you pay out of pocket. If your health insurance company, Medicaid or Medicare pay for your accident-related medical expenses, they are likely to seek reimbursement for the costs of what was paid to the medical professionals who have provided you with care. What this means is that if you receive a settlement or win a jury award, your health insurance provider will be paid out of the proceeds of your case before you receive the balance of the settlement or the award.
What happens when insurance is unavailable or your case is unwinnable
If you suffer from an injury in an accident, you may be responsible for all of the costs of your treatment if there is no insurance available, there isn’t enough evidence or some other reason. If this applies in your case, a personal injury attorney will give you an honest assessment and explain why it is unlikely that you will recover money. This can help you to plan to address your bills via alternative means.
If you have been injured in an accident that you believe was caused by another person, it is important for you to find out what your rights of recovery might be. A personal injury lawyer may help you by assessing your case and valuing it for you so that you better understand what your options might be.