When you suffer a car accident injury that wasn’t your fault, you’ll likely incur medical expenses to get treatment. It may seem wildly unfair that you would have to pay for something that you didn’t cause.
And you’re right.
According to the law, if someone else’s negligence causes your injuries, that person has to pay for the medical care you require as a result of the injuries they caused. While the law is clear, it is always an uphill battle to actually get a check in hand from the insurance company.
Technically, any reasonable and necessary medical treatment that is required as a result of injuries sustained in the accident should be covered. Seems easy enough right? Wrong! Insurance companies love to argue over what is “reasonable”, “necessary”, and “caused” by the crash.
One of the first things that you need to prove is that your injuries were a result of the wreck. This can include any new injuries as well as old injuries that were aggravated – or made worse – by the wreck. Say for instance, that you had knee surgery last year and before the accident, it only flared up occasionally. If you re-injured that same knee in a car wreck and now need physical therapy or - heaven forbid - another surgery. then the insurance company should pay for that expense. Keep in mind, that they do not have to pay for all of your knee issues because you had the preexisting condition. They’re only responsible for the aggravation of the preexisting condition, which can be very difficult to evaluate. Sometimes it’s difficult to prove what was a preexisting condition and what injuries are new, but a good attorney will be able to gather evidence and make that argument on your behalf.
The insurance companies also regularly argue that the medical treatment you received wasn’t “necessary”. They’ll often claim that your injuries are not severe and would have gone away after a few weeks so the medical treatment you received wasn’t actually necessary. They’ll even go so far as to argue that some diagnostic exams – MRI’s, CT’s, X-Rays, etc. – were not necessary even though they were ordered by a medical professional!
They also routinely argue that the medical expenses aren’t “reasonable” because they think your bills are too high. In order words, they think the doctor should have charged you less for their services even when you have absolutely no control over what the doctor charges! Usually, insurance companies claim that everyone should be charged Medicare rates even though not everyone has Medicare! It’s completely absurd! Both arguments can be fought with the help of a seasoned attorney, but don’t be surprised if your attorney has to fight long and hard for you to be properly compensated for your medical expenses.
Typically, if you hire an auto accident attorney, then they will make sure that your medical bills are paid for after the settlement is accepted, and the check is received.
We understand that incurring medical bills is not ideal. For that reason, many personal injury attorneys have a network of doctors and medical providers who will agree to treat you under a letter of protection. This allows you to receive treatment right now with the understanding that the doctor will be paid from the insurance settlement. Not every doctor will agree to take a letter of protection for every case or from every personal injury law firm so you must choose an attorney with a good reputation
Sometimes your bills might end up in collections because of how long it can take to recover from an insurance company. If this happens, you have a few options. Of course, you can always leave the bills alone and notify the collection agency of the pending claim, but your credit may still be impacted. Your other option is to make small monthly payments to the medical provider before the bill goes to collections or to the collection agency to keep your credit in good standing. Lastly, you can pay the bill while your case is pending and wait for reimbursement from the insurance company.
The system is not perfect, and, understandably, you might be frustrated that medical bills end up in collections for injuries that were not your fault. There are options for you, but ultimately those bills are your responsibility, and your credit may be impacted by ignoring them. Ultimately, you have to do what’s best for you and your future while your attorney fights to make sure that you get fairly compensated for what happened.
Something else that you may not be aware of is your health insurance’s right of subrogation. This means that if they paid for any of your medical treatment from the injuries caused by someone else and you recovered funds from the person who injured you, then your health insurance is entitled to recover their portion from the at-fault insurance company.
This also means that you can use your health insurance for your treatment early on. Sometimes it’s easier to incur the costs of deductibles instead of waiting for the bill to go to collections because of how long the legal process can take. If you choose to have your health insurance pay, know that your out-of-pocket expenses will get paid back, along with your health insurance recovering for the portion that they paid for your car accident injury treatment.
Ultimately, there are many routes to getting your bills paid for after suffering from an injury caused by someone else. If you have questions about the details, be sure to call an experienced accident attorney. Our attorneys at McKinney Vos have years of experience battling insurance companies on behalf of our auto accident clients. Based in Austin, we serve clients throughout central Texas. Call us today for a free consultation!