·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary


How to Handle Your Medical Bills After a Car Accident

— June 30, 2021

A three-day stay in a hospital could set you back as much as $30,000.

It does not take much of an impact for occupants of vehicles involved in a car accident to be injured. Even a minor “fender-bender” can exert enough force on drivers and passengers to cause injuries requiring evaluation and treatment by medical professionals. What starts out as a minor headache or an achy discomfort may turn out to be a serious, life-threatening injury unless you get medical care right away.

Apart from putting your physical wellbeing at risk, failing to be examined by a doctor as soon as possible after a car accident can jeopardize your right to pursue a claim for compensation against a driver or other party whose careless or reckless conduct caused the crash. Claim adjusters for auto insurance companies will use the delay in seeking treatment to minimize the severity of your injuries in order to reduce the value of your claim.

In some instances, claim adjusters may even use your delay in seeking treatment to prove that something happening after the car accident was what actually caused you to be injured. Either way, you could be stuck paying substantial medical bills while the at-fault party escapes being held accountable. Should injuries suffered in a car accident have you wondering how to handle your medical bills, here are a few suggestions that may help.

Cost of medical care for injuries in a car accident

You probably already know from routine office visits to your primary care physician how expensive medical care has become. Even when you have health insurance, you remain responsible for copays and deductibles.

Calculator and paperwork; image via Pxhere, CC0.
Calculator and paperwork; image via Pxhere, CC0.

Depending on the type and severity of injuries suffered in a car accident, the costs associated with specialists, diagnostic testing, hospital fees and other expenses frequently result in astronomically high bills. According to data compiled by the federal government, medical costs associated with treatment of a broken leg could be as much as $7,500. A three-day stay in a hospital could set you back as much as $30,000.

Some of the typical expenses related to medical care following a car accident may include the following:

  • Hospital charges
  • Emergency department charges
  • Physician fees, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, and other specialists
  • Private or out-patient nursing services
  • Ambulance fees
  • X-rays, MRIs and other imaging and diagnostic testing.
  • Rehabilitation costs, including physical and occupational therapy.
  • Medical equipment, including wheelchairs and walkers
  • Prescription drugs.

You must also take into consideration the medical expenses you may incur in the future. Surgical procedures and medical care doctors anticipate you may need in the future can be substantial. They may include rehabilitation expenses, hospital costs and other charges that could be a burden unless you take steps now to anticipate how to handle them. 

Methods for handling medical bills from a car accident

Depending upon the laws in your state, options other than filing a lawsuit against the negligent or reckless party that caused a car crash may be available to pay medical bills, including the following:

  • No-fault laws: Some states enacted no-fault laws to limit personal injury lawsuits by restricting an accident victim’s right to file a lawsuit to situations involving serious physical injuries or death. In exchange for limits on the right of injured accident victims to sue for damages, states with no-fault laws allow you to recover the cost of medical care by filing a claim through your own auto insurance policy.
  • Personal injury protection (PIP) and medical payments (MedPay) coverages: PIP and MedPay are coverages you add to your auto insurance policy in states that have no-fault laws. As a general rule, PIP coverage is mandatory while MedPay is optional. Both coverages pay your medical bills for injuries suffered in a car accident regardless of fault, so people use MedPay to supplement the limits of their PIP coverage.
  • Health Insurance: If you have health insurance coverage, it may be available to pay medical bills associated with injuries you suffer in a car accident when other insurance coverage is not available. There are two disadvantages to relying on your health insurance to pay medical bills from a car accident. The first is that you may be responsible to pay deductibles and copays. The other is that whatever medical bills your health insurance company pays must be reimbursed from any money you receive through a lawsuit against an at-fault driver or other party.
  • Workers’ compensation: If you suffer injuries in a work-related car accident in a state with workers’ compensation laws, you may be entitled to collect benefits, including payment of medical bills, from your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company. However, if the accident was caused by a party other than your employer or a co-worker, the workers’ compensation insurer has the right to recover benefits paid to you from money you recover in a lawsuit against the negligent third party.

A car accident that was not work related, or if you live in a state that does have a no-fault law, a lawsuit against the parties whose negligence caused you to be injured is always an option for recovering medical expenses and other damages. 

Filing a lawsuit for personal injuries to recover medical expenses

One way to handle the medical bills associated with injuries inflicted on you in a car accident is by making the party or parties responsible for causing the crash pay them. Unless the company that issued the liability insurance policy covering the at-fault party acknowledges liability and agrees to pay your medical bills and other damages you incurred, your personal injury lawyer will file a lawsuit to compel payment of your claim.

Once your lawyer has gathered the evidence needed to prove that another party’s fault caused a car accident, a lawsuit may be filed seeking to recover damages, including payment of your medical bills. No-fault laws in some states, including New Jersey and Florida, may place restrictions on the right of accident victims to sue for damages by limiting lawsuits to cases involving only the most serious physical injuries, disfigurement or death.

Taking someone to court to force them to pay compensation for injuring you takes time, but a  lawsuit loan offers a way to get money right away to help pay medical bills, living expenses and other financial concerns while waiting for settlement of a lawsuit. The money can be immediately available as a supplement to, or in place of, other methods for paying medical bills caused by injuries in a car accident.

Deciding which of the options for handling medical expenses for injuries suffered in a car accident would be best for you depends on the particular facts and circumstances of your case. A consultation with your personal injury lawyer can help you make an informed decision.

Join the conversation!