How Will I Pay My Medical Bills after an Accident?
At our personal injury law firm, one of the first questions we often hear from accident victims is, “How can I pay my medical bills?” The answer depends on the type of accident. Your options will differ depending on whether you were hurt in a car accident, workplace accident or another type of accident such as a slip and fall.
Attorney Frank M. Eidson understands how important it is for accident victims to receive the medical care they need. Our goal is to make sure you are fully compensated for all of your medical expenses and other losses so that you receive the best medical care possible, without any interruptions.
To learn more about your options, contact us today by phone or through our online form. We serve clients in Orlando, Winter Park and throughout Florida. We would be glad to meet with you right away.
A General Approach to Paying Medical Bills after an Accident
Typically, after an accident caused by another, you would pay your bills through your own private health insurance or a program such as Medicare or Medicaid.
You would then seek reimbursement from the at-fault party (or parties) through a personal injury lawsuit that claims past and future medical expenses in addition to other damages.
Once the insurance company pays you, the insurer that paid your medical bills would have the right to seek reimbursement. In other words, the health care insurer would have “subrogation rights” or would put a lien on your recovery.
It’s important to note: The insurance company is entitled to only reimbursement of what it paid for your medical treatment – and no more than that.
For example, if you are attacked by a neighbor’s dog and go to the hospital for treatment, your health insurance would pay your costs. You could – and should – proceed to file a claim to recover compensation through your neighbor’s homeowners’ insurance. When you are paid by your neighbor’s insurer, your health insurance provider will rightly want its money back.
So, let’s say your medical bills were $10,000, and your insurance company paid for all of it (minus your deductible). You may have suffered other losses, too, such as having an expensive jacket ruined, missing work for several weeks and experiencing tremendous pain and suffering from the attack.
In your lawsuit, you would seek “damages” (compensation) for your medical expenses, property damage, lost income and pain and suffering. Anything you obtained in the lawsuit that was not for medical expenses would be off limits in your healthcare insurer’s subrogation claim.
However, in two types of accidents, paying medical bills works differently.
How Auto Accident Medical Bills Are Paid
Florida has specific rules for auto insurance. These rules require insurers to pay your medical bills after a car accident under a “no-fault” doctrine. In other words, you do not need to show that another party was at fault in order to receive this coverage.
Florida law requires vehicle owners to carry at least $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance and a minimum of $10,000 of property damage liability insurance. Policies may have a deductible (money the insured must pay out of pocket) of up to $1,000 for PIP coverage and $500 for property damage liability.
After you pay the deductible, PIP should pay:
- 80 percent of reasonable medical expenses related to the accident
- 60 percent of lost wages as a result of the accident
- $5,000 for death benefits in a fatality.
PIP plans cover the policyholder, relatives who live with the policyholder, certain passengers who do not own a vehicle and others who drive the policyholder’s car with permission.
However, two issues may arise with PIP coverage that require the help of a lawyer:
- “Reasonable” medical expenses – Your insurer may decide that the treatment you are receiving is not “reasonable.” The insurer may even require you to undergo a medical exam by its own doctor, who could then decide that you do not need any further treatment. A lawyer can help you to overcome this dispute with your insurer.
- The other 20 percent – If another driver caused your accident, you could seek the 20 percent you have paid in medical bills “out of pocket” from that driver’s liability insurance coverage. In some cases, you may have to turn to your own uninsured / underinsured motorist (UM / UIM) coverage. A lawyer can assist you if any disputes arise in receiving this coverage.
How Work Accident Medical Bills Are Paid
If you are injured in a workplace accident in Florida, all of your medical bills should be paid by your employer through its workers’ compensation insurance. In order to have these bills paid, you must go to the health care provider (or specialist) authorized by your employer and/or its insurer. The health care provider will directly bill the workers’ compensation insurer.
However, a problem may arise if the doctor decides that you have fully recovered and can return to work. As a result, your workers’ compensation benefits may be terminated unless you go back to your job.
If you disagree, you can challenge the termination of your benefits. However, this requires knowledge of the workers’ compensation system as well as independent medical evidence. You should seek help from an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer right away.
Third-Party Work Accident Claims
In some cases, a work accident occurs due to the negligence of someone who is not your employer or co-worker. In those cases, you may be able to go beyond workers’ compensation and seek recovery of medical expenses through a third-party liability claim.
For example, you may have been injured in scaffolding collapse at a construction site due to the negligence of a third-party contractor who erected the scaffolding. Or, maybe the scaffolding equipment was faulty. You could pursue a claim against the equipment manufacturer.
A third-party work accident claim would be subject to subrogation and repayment of workers’ comp benefits, as we discussed above.
Contact an Orlando Personal Injury Lawyer about Your Medical Expenses
A person injured through no fault of his or her own in an accident should not have to worry about paying for needed medical care. Insurance companies should pay benefits as stated in their policies. Unfortunately, they often do not.
Frank M. Eidson, P.A., an Orlando personal injury lawyer, can help you to seek the compensation you deserve after a car, work or other accident, including payment for all of your past and future medical expenses. We will fight to make sure insurers live up to their legal obligations and do what is right.
If you face medical bills after an accident of any kind, contact attorney Frank M. Eidson in Orlando for a free legal consultation. Call or connect with him through our online form. He can explain how he will personally focus on your case while you concentrate on getting better.