Medical bills after a car accident involving serious injuries start mounting almost immediately. You likely will incur initial expenses for ambulance services, the emergency room, surgeons or attending physicians, and the hospital stay itself. Then you will probably have bills for diagnostic tests, treatments, prescriptions, and follow-up appointments, not to mention future treatments and rehabilitation. When all is said and done, a serious injury can set you back thousands of dollars.
If you have yet to receive a settlement check or are in the midst of the claim process or litigation, you will have to find other ways to pay for medical bills in the interim. This can be especially difficult when your injuries have prevented you from going back to work earning a paycheck. Below, we will discuss a few of potential options to make do until your case resolves.
Your Auto Insurance Policy
One of your first options for recovery is your own auto insurance policy. All Pennsylvania drivers are required to carry minimal medical benefits coverage, which pays medical bills after an accident, regardless of who was at fault.
Some of the expenses medical benefits will cover include:
- General medical bills
- Dental and other specialized treatment
- Hospitalization and surgeries
- Professional nursing services
- Prostheses and medical devices
- Funeral expenses
While you can purchase as much as $100,000 worth of coverage, Pennsylvania only requires that drivers carry $5,000 worth of medical benefits. In light of exorbitant and rising costs of medical bills, this minimum isn’t much coverage. Take a seriously fractured arm injury, for example. After emergency room fees, x-rays, radiology, surgical costs to implant wires or screws, pain relievers and anti-inflammatory prescriptions, and follow-ups, your bills could be more than $15,000. For catastrophic injuries such as spinal cord damage and paralysis, your injury could wind up costing you more than $1 million.
Higher limits on medical benefits coverage and optional coverages such as extraordinary medical benefits and income loss are also available. Extraordinary medical benefits can cover up to $1 million in medical bills. If your policy only contains the minimum coverage, though, then $5,000 is the most your insurer will compensate you.
Your Health Insurance
Your next option is to use your own public, private or employer-sponsored health insurance policy. You will need to check your policy details for specifics about coverage. Most policies pay a portion of your medical bills after you meet your deductible. Unfortunately, sometimes even deductibles and the portion that patients are responsible for paying (coinsurance is usually 10 to 30 percent or more) is too much for some folks’ budgets.
If you decide to use your own health insurance to cover medical bills after crash, you should be aware that some insurers will want to recover what they have paid on your behalf after you get your settlement check. Health insurers have a right to take out a lien on your settlement when another party (such as the other driver or that driver’s insurance company) is liable for the damages. In other words, if you win your case, your health insurance company might be entitled to a portion of your settlement because someone else was technically responsible for paying for it.
This is called subrogation, and different types of insurers have different types of subrogation rights. If you plan to use your health insurance to pay medical bills after a crash, speak to an attorney to discern your particular insurance company’s rights and for help understanding how your settlement might be affected.
One of the last options you might consider for help paying for medical bills after an accident is pre-settlement funding. Pre-settlement funding, also referred to as personal injury lawsuit loans, is essentially a cash advance on your future settlement. They are non-traditional finance options that most banks and credit bureaus do not offer. Pre-settlement finance companies specifically provide for this purpose. They offer loans to plaintiffs in personal injury cases until their case settles and borrower can make good on the loan.
When you apply for a lawsuit loan, the lender will examine the facts of your case, speak with your lawyer, and decide whether or not they think the case will settle in your favor. If the lender thinks your case is a relatively safe bet, they will offer you a loan. But pre-settlement funding is not without its drawbacks. Because of high-risk nature of the loans and because these types of companies are not regulated by federal or state laws, financers usually charge exceptionally high interest rates – sometimes as much as 50 percent. Plus, obtaining an advance on your settlement might encourage overspending and could leave you in a financial pinch later.
Before even considering pre-settlement funding, you will want to exhaust other options. If auto insurance and health insurance doesn’t meet your needs, you can look into government assistance and even loans from family or friends. If you are working with one of our attorneys at Cordisco & Saile, we can discuss the option of helping you with a letter of protection with your doctors. This is basically an agreement you make with your doctor that you will receive treatment, and then pay for it after you obtain your settlement. Any of these options likely will serve you much better in the long run than a pre-settlement loan.
Deciding What’s Best for You
If you are looking for ways to deal with your mounting medical bills after an auto accident, you are welcome to call one of our attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC in Pennsylvania for a free consultation. We can help with any personal injury legal needs and explain your options so that you can make choices that suit your case best.
We also recommend downloading our free eBook, Don’t Crash Again! A Car Accident Victim’s Guide to Maximizing Recovery. In the book, attorney Saile answers many questions accident victims often have, including paying for medical bills.
Contact our office at 215-791-8272 for a free consultation or fill out our online contact form.