When you’re injured in a car accident, you have to deal with seasoned insurance adjusters trying to persuade you to settle for much less than your case is worth. I know exactly how adjusters work and will help you navigate the process so you can obtain your accident settlement quickly and put your life back together. For over 35 years, I’ve helped clients in Warwick, Rhode Island and beyond, obtain millions of dollars in settlement money resulting from car accidents.
When it comes to car accidents, the most urgent question I get is “Who pays for my car accident medical bills?” This answer can vary based on a few factors, including who’s at fault. Rhode Island is an “at-fault” state for car accidents, meaning that general financial liability is determined by who’s at fault in the accident. Ultimately, your bills will get paid when the case is settled or there is a judgment, but there are ways to get them paid before that, too.
The Party at Fault Will Pay, But Not Right Away
The financial setback following a car accident adds insult to injury. Instead of focusing only on getting well, you have to deal with mounting medical bills and uncertainty about who will pay your bills and when you’ll receive the funds. No one wants to rack up debt, damage their credit or get hounded by collection agencies while they are waiting to settle their case.
If you’re the victim of a car accident, the other party is responsible for your medical bills in addition to your other damages. If they have car insurance, you’ll be paid through the insurance. While this sounds like good news—and it is a relief to know you’re not on the hook financially—a settlement can take months or years. Most hospitals and doctors expect you to pay at the time of treatment or within a short period afterward.
Health and Auto Insurance Will Help
If you have health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid, you might only incur a copay at your appointments, unless you have a deductible to meet first. If you have a high deductible plan, then the expenses for anything not covered by your health insurance will be paid out-of-pocket until you meet your deductible.
If you’re struggling to pay your co-pay or deductible after a car accident, you might be able to get financial assistance through personal injury protection (PIP) or through an auto insurance policy’s no-fault benefits. Also, if your injuries are severe, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy might agree to cover your medical bills before you even settle your case, but that’s unusual.
Another option you might have is “medical payment coverage” or “med pay” through your own car insurance. Med pay can be used to cover the cost of medical expenses regardless of if you were the car accident victim or the at-fault driver. I typically advise clients to use health insurance coverage versus med pay coverage, when possible because it can affect your net settlement.
Your health insurer pays a discounted amount of your medical bills whereas auto insurers pay the full dollar amount. When we make a claim for your medical bills, we claim the entire medical bill amount but only reimburse the insurer for what they paid. So, if your health insurance paid you get to keep the difference between what the insurer paid and what the medical bill actually totaled. But if your auto insurer pays your medical bill in full then we have to pay them back for the entire amount we recoup for that bill.
If The Accident Was Your Fault
Rhode Island is a “fault” state for automobile accidents. This means that the person who caused the car accident is responsible for all the financial losses resulting from it. For this reason, liability insurance is required for Rhode Island drivers. If you’re at fault in a Rhode Island car accident, your liability insurance will help pay for financial losses for those you injured, including medical and property damage.
If you’re at fault in a car accident and you only carry liability insurance, your coverage only covers the injured parties, not you, though your med pay coverage would pay for your medical bills up to the limit of your med pay coverage, if you have med pay coverage.
When the Other Party Has No Auto Insurance
Uninsured and underinsured coverage is only required in Rhode Island when you maintain policy limits above the minimum of bodily injury and property damage liability. Those limits are:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
While not required, it’s a good idea to opt for uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage in Rhode Island. This means if you’re injured by a driver without car insurance or the victim of a hit and run, uninsured and underinsured coverage covers you, including your medical bills.
How Do I Know What Insurance is Available?
That’s where your personal injury lawyer comes in. As an experienced car accident lawyer I know which insurance will cover your injuries under the circumstances of your case and where to look for it. Here are the usual scenarios:
- Your auto insurance: your own auto insurance will cover your medical expenses if you have medical payments coverage regardless of who is at fault, and will reimburse you for your medical bills if the other party is at fault and uninsured and you have uninsured motorist coverage.
- Your health insurance: in almost all cases your health insurance policy will cover your medical bills to the extend that their exclusions, deductibles and co-payment requirements allow, regardless of who is at fault.
- The at-fault driver’s auto insurance: Providing the driver that hit your car has car insurance, your medical bills will be reimbursed by the at-fault driver’s car insurance. Sometimes you may receive payments from them while you are still treating, but usually you have to wait until your claim is resolved in a settlement or at trial before you will receive reimbursement.
Contact Us Right Away!
When you’re injured in a car accident, you need to act quickly. Make sure you receive prompt medical attention and save all of your doctor notes and medical receipts. For more information on what to do and what to avoid after your car accident, click here.
For more than 35 years, Carl P. DeLuca, Attorney at Law, has helped clients throughout Warwick, Rhode Island obtain the settlement they deserve following a car accident. While it’s tempting to take the first offer you receive from the insurance adjuster, doing so can drastically reduce your financial settlement. You owe it to yourself and your family to get compensation for your injuries.