“Who will pay my medical bills?” This is a common question many personal injury victims have. Whether they are injured in a car wreck, on someone else’s property, or by someone’s animal, the resulting injuries are always accompanied by medical expenses. It is important after an accident that the injured person ensure their medical bills are handled correctly to avoid credit issues and to maximize their recovery.
Many people correctly assume that the insurance company of the at-fault party will pay their medical bills. However, it must be shown that the medical bills incurred where a proximate cause of the insured’s negligence. Additionally, settlements typically only occur after the injured party is finished receiving medical treatment. Settlements can occur months, and sometimes years, after the medical bills are incurred.
Problems arise when injuries are severe and treatment lasts more than a few months. Many medical providers will not hold payment on the bills until the legal case resolves, which can result in the bill being sent to a collection agency. This can result in reporting to the credit bureaus and negative repercussions for a person’s credit score.
If an injured person has health insurance, it is almost always best to submit the medical bills to the health insurance company for payment. North Carolina’s law changed on October 1, 2011 with regard to medical expenses that can be claimed in personal injury claims. For accidents that occur on or after that date, an injured party can only claim those medical expenses that have been paid, and that remain to be paid. Filing on health insurance will therefore reduce the amount of medical expenses that can be claimed because of the contractual adjustments and write-offs that are a benefit of the health coverage. However, the elimination of the risk of credit consequences and also a potential failure to mitigate defense make this the best practice.
For those without health insurance, there may be other avenues that can be explored if you need medical treatment and cannot find a doctor that will see you without health insurance. There may be medical payments coverage that is available to help pay medical bills on your own automobile policy. Some providers will also treat an injured victim on a lien basis and not require up front payment.
If you have been injured through no fault of your own, contact our firm for a free consultation to see how having representation can benefit you. An experienced personal injury attorney can answer the questions you have, and will know how best to handle your medical bills and other losses.