“I WAS IN A CAR ACCIDENT, NOW WHAT?” Part 3

Seeking Medical Treatment and Paying for it
  1. Seeking Medical Treatment Following the Collision.

            Injuries caused by a car accident are not always immediately apparent.  Often times, clients report that they had so much adrenaline after the accident, they did not realize that they were injured.  However, in the days and weeks following the collision, people often will notice pain, headaches, or other things out of the ordinary.  Unless you are absolutely certain that you were not injured, you should seek medical attention at your local emergency room, urgent care, or family physician.  Even in seemingly minor impact accidents, you can sustain serious and permanent injury.  For example, even if you didn’t hit your head, if you lost consciousness, were having a headache, seemed dazed or confused, or a number of other symptoms after the accident, you may have suffered a concussion and need medical treatment.  If you do not seek medical treatment within a reasonable time following a collision (typically 1 week), the insurance company when looking to settle will argue that you weren’t that injured and will use it to decrease the value of your claim.

A lot of injuries from car accidents will heal on their own or with a few weeks or month of conservative treatment and rest. For those injuries that do not heal, make sure to rest, follow doctor’s orders and recommendations, and get to specialists when you need them.  Do not just grin and bear it and hope that the pain will go away.

  1. Keep Track of Your Medical Providers

As you go through and are treating with various medical providers for your accident related injuries, it is smart to keep a list of each facility/doctor that you treat with.  When looking to settle with the insurance company, they will require the medical records and medical bills from all of the facilities that you treated with from the accident.  Sometimes it is difficult to look back and remember where you treated, keeping a list will make this process easier.

  1. Paying for Accident Related Treatment

Many people who are involved in a car accident think that the at-fault driver’s car insurance should pay for their accident related medical bills as they are incurred and get frustrated when they learn that the at-fault driver’s car insurance does not pay for medical bills as they become due and payable.  The at-fault driver’s car insurance will pay for accident related bills at the conclusion of the case in a lump sum, either through settlement or verdict following a trial.  They will not pay for medical treatment as it is incurred. 

So how do you pay your medical bills from the accident if the at-fault driver’s car insurance isn’t going to pay you until some later date?  There are multiple ways to pay for accident related treatment:

  • Health Insurance. If you have health insurance, you should use it to pay for your medical treatment that you need.  At the end of the case (i.e. when you receive money from the insurance company in settlement or verdict), then you will use that money to pay back the health insurance the amount it paid for your accident-related treatment.  An experienced attorney can assist you with negotiating down or eliminating the amount owed to the health insurance company.
  • Med Pay. This is a set amount of money, typically $5,000, from your insurance carrier to pay for your medical bills as you incur them after an accident.  Unlike health insurance, you do not have to pay this back.  Med pay can assist with co-pays or treatment that is not covered by health insurance, such as chiropractic.  To use your med pay, you can (1) submit the receipts for bills you have paid for reimbursement to you, (2) submit unpaid bills for payment to you or to the facility, or (3) you can give the facility your med pay information. 
  • Liens. If there is a treatment that you cannot afford, that is not covered by health insurance, and you have exhausted your med pay, you can treat on a lien.  What this means is that you are loaned money to cover the cost of your treatment and then you have to pay it back at the conclusion of your case.  A lien can come from a lien company or the medical provider may hold the lien inhouse, meaning they just hold the balance of the bill until resolution of your case.  Liens are typically more expensive than treating through your health insurance for a number of reasons.  First, with liens interest could be charged on the unpaid balance.  Second, health insurance pays a reduced contracted for rate rather than the full billed rate, whereas the lien can charge you the full billed rate.  For example, if your doctor bills $100 for a visit, the health insurance company pays its reduced contracted for rate of $30 and you would only have to pay the health insurance company back $30, less additional reductions.  If you treat through a lien, then you will have to pay back the full $100, without additional reductions.   Finally, depending on your health insurance, there are statutes that may allow your attorney to assert that you are not made whole as a result of the settlement, and then the health insurance company is not entitled to any reimbursement.  That is not the situation with a lien.
  1. Consider Consulting with or Hiring Attorney

Here at Shapiro Winthers P.C. our attorneys take pride in understanding our client’s injuries and the medical treatment to be better able to assist our clients in both telling their story to the insurance company as well as guiding them to medical providers that may specialize in their specific injuries.  We are also well versed in assisting clients with navigating health insurance, med pay, and liens both to obtain treatment, and then at the conclusion of a case, to negotiate any repayment to achieve the best results for our clients.

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In addition to taking a medical approach
to handling automobile accidents,
we regularly obtain opinions from
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