In short, you do.
The other driver’s insurance company might quickly pay for your car. But for medical costs, they won’t pre-pay or pay them as they become due even if they admit their driver caused the crash. You have to rely on your auto insurance and your health insurance, not the at-fault driver’s. If you do not have insurance and cannot afford health care, attorneys can usually find medical financing.
If their driver was obviously negligent, the other insurance company remains liable and eventually will have to pay. They might offer you money before you fully recover. If you take it; however, you will have to release both the company and driver from responsibility for ongoing and future care, often regardless of how badly or how likely you will need it. This could lead to large medical bills later, after the settlement money is gone.
Never take a settlement from another insurance company unless you are sure about how much you need and are comfortable with the terms. As auto accident attorneys, we encourage victims to get the medical treatment they need before making a final deal.
Med-pay and other health insurance
The number and complexity of insurance contracts can seem baffling. Auto insurance policies include a variety of different insurances. A typical accident brings into play at least three and often four types of insurance from three different companies. An attorney can advise you how to efficiently use the insurance at your disposal and will communicate effectively on your behalf with all insurance companies in your case.
One of the handiest types of insurance is medical payments coverage (“med-pay”). Unless you waived this coverage in writing, you will usually have at least $5,000 quickly available to pay providers. Most people also have health insurance, whether private insurance or some kind of government-backed insurance such as Tricare, Medicare, or Medicaid. You should take advantage of any health insurance you have and try to use med-pay for providers who don’t take your insurance, or perhaps use it to pay a subrogation claim by your health insurance company.
Subrogation is a legal principle that prevents victims from being compensated twice for an injury. If your health insurer pays for your injuries and you then receive compensation for those injuries from the auto insurance company, subrogation allows the health insurance company to recover the money it paid toward your claim.
You may be surprised to learn that your own health, disability, or worker compensation insurer will show up with its hand out demanding part of your settlement to “compensate” it for any benefits it paid, regardless of what you may have paid in premiums. Subrogation can take several forms. Both private and government-backed insurance have subrogation rights, which operate similarly to the right of hospitals to “lien” a settlement for unpaid hospital bills.
A subrogation claim can wipe any benefit of a settlement to the injured victim. As your attorneys, we negotiate with these other parties to maximize the amount you get. There are a number of state statutes that both grant and limit the rights of third party insurers and providers to take from your settlement. Often the process of resolving the various subrogation and other repayment rights can take more time than settling the underlying case.
Negotiating With Doctors
Many doctors work with accident victims on a regular basis, and will offer you a payment plan or the option to pay once your insurance claim is paid. You may have to sign a contract or accept a lien to achieve this option, and not all doctors are willing to do this.
Some doctors specialize in working with accident victims, though. These doctors frequently have a good idea of how much insurance will pay for a specific injury, which means they’re more willing to help if they think your insurance is likely to cover all or most of your medical expenses. If you have enlisted the aid of an attorney, they typically have established relationships with several medical care providers and can help you get the care you need.
If you’re struggling to pay your bills after an accident, an attorney can help move your claim forward more quickly, and can work with the insurer to reach a more favorable settlement. If you find yourself in this situation, call McDivitt Law Firm for a FREE consultation. Our experienced Colorado auto accident attorneys can help.