Who pays your medical bills after an accident is not as straightforward as you might think. You might think that justice requires the other driver to pay, and you don’t have anything to worry about, if you weren’t at fault in an accident. But it is not that simple.
After an Accident, Who Pays?
If you said that the party at fault — say, in a car accident — ought to pay your bills, then you would be right in a sense, and wrong in a sense. You would be right in that, ultimately, the other driver, or his insurance, should pay for your medical bills after a car accident, if that driver was at fault. But you would be wrong if you thought that the other driver’s insurance will pick up your medical bills without a fight.
After the accident, you may have gone to the hospital emergency room for treatment. That hospital will send you a bill, even if the accident or injury was caused through the fault of someone else. At that point, when you get the hospital bill, you may have a few options.
You Could Pay the Bill Yourself, If You Can
The simplest, most direct, and worst option is that you could pay the hospital bill with your own money and then seek to recover from the other driver what you paid out. You would probably have to sue this other driver to make him pay. This is the worst option for several reasons. First, who has the money to pay hospital bills, ready at hand, in cash? Secondly, who wants to pursue the other driver, unless you first have a lawyer.
You Could Have Your Health Insurance Pay the Bill
Another option is to have your health insurance — if you have it — pay your bills. This is the best option, because your bills are covered right away, and you don’t have to pursue the other driver yourself. If your health insurance wants to be repaid, it will have to sue the other driver.
The health insurance company then has options, after they pay the bill. They could sue the other driver to recover what they paid out. Or, if you have an attorney, who is pursuing the other driver already, they could put what is called a “lien” on your file.
What Is a Lien?
A “lien” on an accident file is a right to recover out of the proceeds of any settlement or verdict.
When your insurance company pays your medical bills, they often don’t sue the other driver themselves, but rather, wait for you to get a lawyer and sue. Then, the insurance company will file a lien with your attorney, alerting him to their rights to the proceeds that are for medical bills. Your lawyer does the work of recouping the money that the insurance company paid out (in part) on behalf of the insurance company.
What If You Don’t Have Health Insurance? Then, Hospitals and Doctors Have Liens Too
The above assumed that you have health insurance, but what if you don’t?
Then your attorney can ask the hospital and your doctors to “lien up” the file. That means, your health care providers will continue to bill you, but those bills do not need to be paid until your case settles. The doctors will continue to treat you, but the money that they would be billing you is held in abeyance until your case settles, and then, they get paid out of the settlement funds.
Conclusion: Schedule a Free Consultation
If you need help, figuring out the best way to handle your medical bills after an accident or injury, please don’t assume that it is all being taken care of, just because the other driver is at fault. Contact Robert A. Monahan, Esq. today for a FREE consultation.