After an accident, most of us just want to put the whole thing behind us! But how do we move on with so many bills? A simple trip to the emergency room may result in five or six medical bills: the ambulance, the hospital, the emergency room doctor, the radiologist and the prescriptions. What can you do? How can these bills be paid?
- Health insurance: Your health insurance should pay for your medical bills. Have the provider submit them, just as they normally would. Sometimes a medical provider will tell you that since your treatments are related to an accident that health insurance won’t cover it. Usually, that is not accurate. Let us know if you are running into any problems with your health insurance coverage of your accident-related bills.
- Medical payments coverage or PIP: In states, such as Maryland, most drivers have PIP or personal injury protection to cover your medical bills while you are recovering. In West Virginia and Virginia, you may have medical payments coverage. We work with our clients to submit their medical bills to PIP or to their “med pay.” In most cases, we do not charge attorney fees to assist you regarding those payments while we are working on your personal injury matter.
- Liability policies: When the other driver is at fault, their liability coverage will pay for your medical bills. Unfortunately, that usually does not occur until you finish your treatment and you sign a release that you will not pursue any action against the other driver. Sometimes the insurance company may make some payments, but they will usually require that you sign a medical release giving them access to your private medical records before they pay the bill. It is very important for you to consult with an attorney before you sign anything!
- Lien: Some medical providers may be willing to provide medical care to you and wait until you resolve your case with the other person’s insurance company for payment. They may request a “lien” on your settlement. It is a good idea to talk to an attorney before you sign a lien. This document could significantly reduce any amount that you could receive in a settlement once the “lien” is paid.
- Letter of protection: Other medical providers may be willing to wait for payment, but might request a “letter of protection.” This is a letter that your lawyer can send to the provider to ensure that they will be paid from your settlement with the insurance company for the other driver. Discuss this important decision carefully with your attorney before you sign anything or authorize your attorney to send this type of letter.
- Crime Victim’s Fund: In some situations, including situations when the accident was caused by a drunk driver, you may be eligible for your bills to be paid by a crime victim’s fund. In West Virginia, once you submit the application for the fund, the health care provider must stop collection efforts until the fund rules in your case. Our office represents persons in applications to the fund in West Virginia and will be able to assist you in exploring this as a potential means of recovery.
- Medicaid: If you don’t have health insurance because you can’t work and can’t afford it, you may be eligible for Medicaid. You can apply for medicaid in states such as West Virginia, on-line.
While payment of bills may vary from state to state, these general guidelines may be helpful and are based on the laws in West Virginia. If you have questions about how you will pay your bills after an accident, please contact us and we will be happy to help you figure out how to get the medical care you need!