If you or a loved one is involved in an accident, and you are seriously injured, you may be dealing with a number of medical bills. There may be the bill for the ambulance service, the emergency room (ER) doctor, the hospital, the radiology department, and more. You may wonder: Who will pay for these bills, especially if you require follow-up treatments, surgeries, or other forms of medical care.
In no-fault states, your insurance will cover your initial bills, but there are limits as to how much they will pay. If you’re not in a no-fault state, you may have to seek medical bill coverage from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. In either case, you may have bills piling up that you have no money to pay.
Who Pays Your Medical Bills in No-Fault States?
If you live in a no-fault state, your automobile insurance company is responsible for paying at least some of your medical bills, regardless of whether the accident was your fault or not. There are limits, though, to how much your insurance company has to pay, depending on what state you live in. (You should check with your car accident lawyer to see what the limits are in your state.) In general, the cap exists around $10,000, but this may be only if you had an emergency-level injury. If you didn’t, the limit may be lower.
That means if your medical expenses rise higher than the limit, you may be responsible for paying them. If you have health insurance, or if you’re on Medicaid or Medicare, they will likely pay what they usually do on your medical bills. If you don’t have health insurance, you are likely responsible for payment.
Who Pays Your Medical Bills in At-Fault States?
If you live in a state that does not require “no-fault” insurance coverage—in a state that has fault-based jurisdiction or is a tort jurisdiction state—you are responsible for paying your medical bills. If you were not at fault for the accident, however, you can seek payment from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
The problem is that you will have to wait until fault has been established. If you are found to be 50 percent or more responsible for the accident, you won’t be able to collect damages. If you’re responsible for less than 50 percent of the accident, what you can recover depends on your percentage of fault. If you’re found 20 percent responsible, for example, you can collect 80 percent of your medical bills.
Some car insurance policies include a “med-pay” section that allows for some medical coverage. If you have this in your insurance, even if you are at fault, you may have access to a limited amount of funds to pay medical bills.
What If I File a Car-Accident Lawsuit?
If you have significant medical expenses that are not covered by your insurance companies, and you were not completely at fault in the accident, you may be able to file a car accident lawsuit to recover damages. If you settle or win the lawsuit, you may receive more funds to pay your bills, but keep in mind that you won’t get those funds until the settlement or verdict goes through. In the meantime, you are still responsible for your bills.
If you’re struggling, talk to your car accident attorney. He or she may be able to help. In Ohio, for example, the Ohio Victims of Crime program may help pay medical expenses for victims of drunk driving.
Exclusively focused on representing plaintiffs, especially in mass tort litigation, Eric Chaffin prides himself on providing unsurpassed professional legal services in pursuit of the specific goals of his clients and their families. Both his work and his cases have been featured in the national press, including on ABC’s Good Morning America.