Who Is Responsible for Paying Your Medical Bills After a Car Accident?

medical bills after car accident

 

After a car accident in Tennessee, one of the first things you should do is seek medical attention. If paramedics arrive, they will assess your condition at the site of the crash. They may transport you to the hospital for further tests or treatment.

If paramedics aren’t called, or if they release you without taking you to a hospital, you should still go to a doctor within the next 24-48 hours, even if you’re not in pain. Paramedics provide quick field exams and treating immediate traumatic injuries, but they lack the same tests and tools available to a doctor at a medical facility.

Dealing with Medical Bills

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in or around Nashville, you know how stressful it can be to pay expensive medical bills on top of the complications that an injury already brings. Even with good insurance, you still might have to pay unforeseen costs. In 2013, the average hospital stay cost patients $10,700, and the average ER visit cost $1,389 in 2017.

At Steinger, Greene & Feiner, our team of Nashville car accident lawyers can help give you peace of mind after an accident. They’ll hold responsible parties accountable and seek compensation for all of your losses. They work quickly to claim the maximum amount of compensation available.

If you are concerned about your ability to pay or want assistance filing a claim for your medical costs, you can speak to an experienced Nashville car accident lawyer. Call (615) 590-3106 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation now.

But during the time it takes to build your case, you may already have growing medical expenses you don’t know how to pay for. Fortunately, there are a few options available to pay for any treatment during the claims process.

Using Insurance to Pay for Your Medical Bills After a Nashville Car Accident

Whether you’re at fault or not, your best option to pay for your medical bills after your car accident is to use your insurance coverage. While auto insurance will come in handy, you may have to use your health insurance as well.

Liability Insurance

Since 2017, drivers in Tennessee are required to have a minimum of $25,000 of liability car insurance for each injury, up to $50,000 for the total number of injuries in the accident. 

Tennessee is an “at-fault” state. After a driver is found responsible for an accident, they are required by law to pay for any bodily damages resulting from the accident. If you’re hurt in an accident caused by another driver’s carelessness, their liability insurance is supposed to cover your medical costs. 

However, it is often difficult to access those funds until after the case is closed. And even then, it’s not uncommon for insurance to send a low offer, far less than you deserve. They may even attempt to reduce or deny your claim through common liability defense tactics.

There are a few simple precautions you can take to boost your chances of fair reimbursement. First, avoid admitting fault when speaking to other parties and the police. Answer any questions honestly, but avoid apologizing or over-explaining. These statements can help an at-fault driver allege that you were partially or wholly responsible. 

Second, keep copies of all medical records resulting from the accident, as they’ll be necessary to get compensation as quickly as possible. 

Third, see a doctor and report any issues that arose because of the accident within 1-2 days. 

Finally, in cases where an insurance company or driver attempts to avoid paying fair restitution, seek legal assistance.

Your Car Insurance

The liability insurance required to legally drive in the state of Tennessee only applies to injuries you cause to other people involved in an accident. 

If you’re at fault in an accident or involved in a hit and run, the only option you’ll have through your car insurance is medical payments insurance, or MedPay. MedPay covers part of the cost of accident injuries. Note that MedPay is an optional supplement that is not included by default for most policies. 

Even with supplemental insurance, your medical expenses will usually only be covered up to a certain limit. In other words, this insurance is likely to only cover a portion of your expenses.

Your Health Insurance

Just like in any situation where you’re sick or injured, your personal health insurance should cover any medical expenses after an accident. Regular out-of-pocket expenses, like copays and deductibles, still apply, and only expenses explicitly listed by your insurance policy’s expectation of benefits will be covered. 

For this reason, it’s important to keep any receipts and medical documents resulting from the accident. They prove amounts you personally had to spend on your medical care.

If you seek restitution from an at-fault driver, your health insurance will likely demand a portion of the settlement payout if they covered any of your medical expenses after the crash. They may even assist you with filing a claim and conducting an investigation since they have a financial motivation to do so. 

In any case, MedPay insurance (if available) would cover immediate medical expenses first, followed by your health insurance.

Paying Out-of-Pocket

Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to afford medical treatment after an accident, even when you’re not at fault, is paying for it yourself. If you’re uninsured or your current insurance doesn’t cover the full cost of the accident, or if the other driver’s insurance company refuses to pay costs until fault is determined, you’ll probably have to pay for some or all of the expenses up-front.

Many healthcare providers will work with you on a payment plan that allows for reasonable scheduled payments. Providers may also be willing to delay payment through an agreement. This is usually the best course of action when you know you’ve got a settlement coming. 

However, be careful of signing agreements since they can lock you into a “medical lien,” which can limit your legal options during the claims process. You may be forced to settle for an amount lower than you wanted to because of the language of the lien. Have a Nashville car accident lawyer review any provider delay-of-payment or medical lien agreements before signing.

In cases where you can’t afford medical treatment out of pocket, it may be necessary to take out a medical loan or to borrow money from family and friends. 

The loan option is risky because many lenders offer predatory rates or demand a large portion of a settlement. Despite the discomfort, borrowing from a friend or family member is usually a better option, especially if they’re made aware of an incoming settlement you can use to repay them.

Getting Legal Assistance from a Nashville Car Accident Lawyer

Dealing with financial obligations after an accident is very stressful. On top of the direct costs of medical treatment, you may have added financial concerns related to missing work, pain from injuries, and the emotional trauma of the accident itself. 

We at Steinger, Greene & Feiner understand how difficult this is, and want to ease the burden. Our team can provide you with a Nashville car accident lawyer to help get you the maximum possible maximum settlement in as little time as possible. 

We’re also willing to push back on insurance companies that may be low-balling you or attempting to deny your claim. This way, you’re able to fight for the maximum amount to cover all of your losses.

Call us today at (615) 590-3106 or contact us online for a free, no-obligation consultation. We’ll review the details of your case and any settlement offer you’ve received and help you discover your best options for repaying car accident-related debts.

About The Author

Michael Steinger

Michael Steinger

The Florida BarFlorida Bar Young Lawyers DivisionMillion Dollar Advocates ForumMillion Dollar Advocates ForumBest Workers Compensation Attorneys in MiamiBest Car Accident Lawyers in MiamiLawyers of distinction

MICHAEL S. STEINGER, founding partner of Steinger, Greene & Feiner, believes in representing real people, not big businesses. Since the firm’s creation in 1997, Steinger, Greene & Feiner has never represented an insurance company or large corporation, and he vows to keep this promise. Over the course of his career, Michael has handled thousands of Florida accident cases, recovering millions of dollars for his clients and earning him membership into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum. Staying up-to-date on the ever-evolving laws protecting injury victims and their families, Michael is an active member of the American Bar Association, the Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Bar Associations, and sits on the Auto Insurance Committee of the Florida Justice Association.