The bills mount up quickly after getting into a car accident. At no point did you intend to rack up thousands of dollars in medical bills when you got behind the wheel of your car. Nevertheless, someone’s bad decision resulted in your getting seriously injured. As a result, you needed medical care to take care of your injuries and had to take time off work for recovery. The costs pile up fast along with other bills that you normally pay, but now the accident injuries have kept you from working. That leads to the question of “Who will pay my medical bills in a personal injury case?”
Medical providers expect you or your insurance to pay for the medical bills, but you can retain a lawyer to assist you with a personal injury case that can lead to a settlement or judgment that pays your medical bills. A personal injury lawyer can help you navigate how Texas state laws work with regard to paying your medical bills and how to manage the bills until your case has been settled or once you have received an award through a lawsuit. Here is a look at who will pay your medical bills in a personal injury case.
How Medical Bills Are Covered by Texas Insurance Laws After an Accident*
There are two types of fault systems used to determine whose insurance pays for the medical bills after an accident: fault and no-fault. Texas is a fault state, which means that the insurance of the driver who caused the crash will pay for bodily damages up to the maximum amount laid out in the policy. Texas requires drivers to carry a minimum liability insurance policy that covers medical bills for injuries related to an accident. A minimum liability policy pays out up to $30,000 per person (and up to $60,000 total) for medical bills from an accident. Drivers are also offered uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage that covers medical bills in case the offending driver’s insurance doesn’t have sufficient coverage.
What this means is the medical bills of the accident victim are covered by the insurance policy of the at-fault driver. However, you may have to figure out who caused the accident before you can make a claim to pay your medical bills. This is one of the reasons why you should retain a personal injury lawyer to help you with your case. A personal injury lawyer can make an informed decision on how to apply fault to the drivers involved in an accident and ask for damages that are in accordance with state laws.
The Amount of Fault Applied Determines Who Gets the Most Blame for an Accident
The state of Texas uses a fault system known as modified comparative negligence. All of the people involved in an accident receive a portion of the blame for causing the accident. In the event one person is determined to be 51% at fault, they can’t collect damages from the other party involved in the accident. If you are found to have 25% of the fault, you can still recover 75% of the amount spent on damages after the accident.
Are Medical Bills Covered in a Settlement?
Yes, medical bills are covered in a settlement, and they’re usually the primary reason why people make personal injury claims in the first place. The cost of medical care is expensive, which makes covering medical bills a priority for an accident victim. Medical bills that go unpaid can ruin a person’s credit even when they’re the accident victim. Further influencing the pressure of medical bills is the need to put them “on hold” during settlement negotiations or a pending lawsuit. These are reasons why many accident victims ask the question of “Who will pay my medical bills in my settlement?”
Accident victims aren’t usually immediately held responsible for the medical bills after an accident, but their medical providers do expect to get paid after a settlement or judgment is awarded. The money you receive in a settlement may get attached in the form of a lien by the hospital and/or medical providers. In order to clear the lien and avoid having bills sent to a collector, you need to pay the bills from the settlement you receive.
Hospitals and Medical Providers Don’t Always Look to the Accident Victim for Immediate Payment
Hospitals sometimes, but not always, bill the insurance company of the person who’s most likely at fault for the medical costs. They go this route instead of billing the health insurance of the accident victim in order to receive full payment for services. In the event there is not enough money from an insurance policy to cover the medical bills of the accident victim, the hospital can apply a medical or hospital lien to recover money from damages awarded to a patient. A hospital lien may be attached to the:
- Insurance claim payout sent directly to a patient for treatment they received at the hospital
- Damages received from a court judgment
- Money that’s awarded from a personal injury settlement that includes money for injuries treated at the hospital.
Medical providers can engage in something known as a hold agreement for payment of medical bills relating to an accident. The hold agreement usually consists of the medical provider not sending an unpaid bill for collection or filing a lien against a future judgment.
You won’t be billed directly in either of these payment arrangements, although the hospital and medical providers may bill your health insurance in the meantime. If your health insurance is billed and paid out, the insurer can also ask for repayment of the bill when the settlement arrives. This is done through a process known as subrogation, and it’s a clause included in your health insurance policy.
Medical liens and hold agreements can be problematic even though the purpose of a settlement or judgment in a personal injury case is to pay for the bills incurred through no fault of your own. A personal injury attorney may be able to help you retain more of the money to cover ongoing costs from the accident by negotiating directly with medical providers.
Contact Our Houston Personal Injury Lawyers for Help
Don’t let medical bills resulting from an accident make your life difficult. Contact Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law as soon as you can. We can help you with getting a settlement that covers your medical bills and related damages. Call us today for a free case evaluation at (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000 and learn more about your options for paying your accident-related medical bills. Terry Bryant has over 35 years of experience handling personal injury claims and can provide you with the guidance you need for a personal injury claim.