How to Pay for Medical Bills While a Claim Is Pending
Very few Californians have the spare cash to handle a sudden injury. From emergency room visits to invasive surgeries to physical therapy, a single accident can cost the average family tens of thousands of dollars. While you may be able to recover the full costs of your injuries in a personal injury claim, the entire process can take over a year. During that period, you may be worried about how to cover your medical expenses and may even be tempted to accept a lowball settlement offer from the at-fault insurance company to get your initial bills covered.
However, based on our more than 40 years of experience, we at Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie know a handful of ways to pay your medical bills during a personal injury claim – without giving in to insurance company trickery.
1. Health Insurance
Whether you have a policy through your employer, Medicaid or Medicare, your family, or you purchased it yourself through Covered California, health insurance is incredibly useful after an accident. While you may have high caps before coverage kicks in, these policies typically have added discounts that can reduce the overall costs of your treatment and ensure that you can see a doctor as quickly as possible. You shouldn’t rely solely on health insurance for an accident, but it can prove incredibly helpful alongside your other options.
It is important to know that your health insurance company may request payment from your settlement or jury verdict. This is referred to as subrogation, and it is a largely administrative process where your health insurance company can pursue compensation from the person responsible for your injuries. Technically speaking, your health insurance company is seeking the same damages as you are and, in some cases, may even reimburse you for your own out-of-pocket expenses. But they also cannot take all of your money in a claim, as California law limits the amount of money a health insurance company can receive to one-third the total settlement amount.
2. Personal Injury Protection
Your own auto insurance company may also provide some relief for your medical expenses. Sometimes referred to as MedPay or Personal Injury Protection (PIP), this is an optional policy that can be added to your auto insurance and, if you are involved in an accident, you can receive immediate coverage for your injuries up to your policy limit. At a minimum, these policies offer $1,000 in no-fault medical coverage, meaning you can access these funds even if you are partially at fault for the collision. These policies are typically available in $1,000 increments, often going up to $5,000.
If you have PIP and health insurance, you should use your health insurance first to decrease the overall cost of your medical treatment and get as many discounts as possible, and then PIP to reduce the bills further. PIP is typically included in an umbrella policy, which can fully cover every aspect of an accident, from medical needs to property damage.
3. Medical Liens
Similar to subrogation with health insurers, some medical providers can place your bills on a lien, or credit, with the agreement that they will be paid back through your personal injury claim. A lien can prove extremely helpful if you require long-term treatment, such as physical therapy, and do not have any way to pay these bills upfront. Sadly, not all healthcare providers work on liens, but you can easily get in contact with one who does through a personal injury attorney.
Most attorneys have their own network of doctors and specialists that they regularly refer clients to, and Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie is no different. If we take you on as a client, we can help you find the right doctor for your injury so that you receive the best treatment available. In addition, we can also help you when it comes time to pay your bills.
Discuss Every Option With a Lawyer
At the end of the day, the goal of a personal injury claim is to ensure that you are made whole again after an accident, meaning you have both fully healed and have not suffered any financial losses. This may mean placing your medical bills on subrogation or liens until your claim is settled; if you do pay anything out-of-pocket, you receive reimbursement for those payments. But before you start agreeing to any financial document, you should discuss it with an experienced lawyer who can explain your rights and, in some cases, find you a better deal.
At Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie, we are well-versed in the claims process. Not only can we investigate your accident and negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance company, but we can also review your insurance policies and medical bills to ensure you receive the most out of your claim. In addition, we work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning you do not have to pay us unless with win, and our fees are included in your claim.
If you were injured due to someone else’s negligent actions, then you should immediately reach out to one of our experienced and knowledgeable Orange County personal injury attorneys. We can provide excellent legal guidance during a difficult part of your life. To schedule a free consultation, call Allen, Flatt, Ballidis & Leslie at (949) 752-7474.
Even if you aren't sure you have a case, give us a call at (888) 752-7474, or fill out our Free Case Review below.
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