Dealing with the aftermath of an auto accident can be frustrating and complicated. Many factors affect how you need to move forward: Do you have health insurance? Who was at fault? What kind of auto insurance did both drivers have? How severe were the injuries? Where did you seek medical care? The answers to these questions — and more — determine the direction you need to take toward resolving the medical, emotional, and financial issues that arise after a car wreck.
Car insurance plays a major role in how things are paid for after an accident. Insurance law varies from state to state. Some states are “no fault,” meaning that each driver is responsible for his or her own bills and those of their passengers, regardless of who is at fault for causing the accident.
Other states, like Texas, do not have no-fault laws, meaning that one driver is held responsible for the accident and the damages and injuries suffered by those in the other vehicle.
Who pays for what and the settlement amount are usually not determined until after car repairs and medical bills must be paid. Further complications can arise depending on what medical care is needed and where the treatment happens.
Seeking Medical Care After a Car Accident
Seeking medical treatment after a car accident is imperative for both immediate and ongoing care. Seeking this care can be frustrating and overwhelming, not to mention expensive. Car accident victims are often faced with medical bills they have no idea how they will pay for. This is especially frustrating if you were not at fault and need compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
When seeking medical care related to a car crash, it is important to document every visit and receipt, as this information will be needed for your records, the insurance company, and possibly a court. If you don’t have this documentation, tell your lawyers where you have received medical attention, so they can order the records and bills necessary to prove your case. Some of the medical items to document include, but are not limited to:
- Ambulance rides and emergency room visits
- X-rays, scans, and bloodwork
- Prescriptions and OTC medicines
- Hospital and rehabilitation facility stays
- Regular doctor and specialist visits
- Physical and occupational therapies
- Transportation costs associated with medical treatment
If you have no idea how you will pay for your medical care while you wait for a settlement, but the medical bills need to be paid for, it can put you in a precarious financial situation. Accepting the first offer from the auto insurance company is usually not a good move, as it could deny you the financial compensation you actually deserve, and it could preclude you from receiving ongoing care as a result of your injuries.
Other options available to most people are to place a “hold agreement” on the balance of what you owe or applying for a car accident settlement loan to tide you over until a settlement comes in. Sometimes these agreements can be difficult to obtain, especially if you do not have a lawyer, and this may leave you in the same tough spot as before.
Because the finances and laws involved in car accident situations are so complex, working with a personal injury attorney during this time is often the most prudent decision car wreck victims can make. An attorney can help you determine the value of your claim, understand the terms of any settlement offers that you receive, and fight to get the compensation you deserve.
There are also more complications that a personal injury attorney can help you with. For example, car accidents victims with significant injuries can become even more frustrated by the way hospitals bill patients and insurance companies for treatment services.
Hospital Billing and Hospital Liens
When going to the hospital, you might assume that your health insurance would be billed for your care. Injuries from car accidents are often treated differently, however. In the case you are injured in a car wreck, hospitals will bill the auto insurance provider as the at fault entity instead of the victim’s health insurance. This is often done so hospitals can get the full amount of the care paid for, as opposed to the (often lower) amount that the health insurance company would reimburse the hospital for the care.
If a hospital cannot be compensated for care through insurance, they may institute a lien. A hospital lien, according to Texas law, allows hospitals to recover money they are unable to collect from those who are underinsured, uninsured, or unable to pay for the treatment for another reason. The hospital will attach a lien to:
- An insurance claim for damages that were awarded to a patient for injuries that they received treatment for at the hospital.
- Damages received from a court judgment pertaining to the car accident.
- Money awarded, including punitive damages, received from a personal injury settlement that includes money for hospital treated injuries.
Hospitals do this to ensure they are paid the full amount for the services they provided, not just what would be reimbursed by a health insurance company. There is opposition to this. The argument among car accident victims and personal injury attorneys is that victims should be able to keep that money for damages, pain, and suffering.
For this reason and many more, it is important and helpful to have an experienced personal injury attorney working for you as soon after a car accident as possible. A personal injury attorney can work with the hospital and insurance company to reduce the lien and maximize the settlement money for you.
The Attorneys at Crosley Law Firm: Fighting for You
Here at Crosley Law Firm, we know the ins and outs of car accidents, hospital liens, and personal injury settlements, and we are prepared to fight for your interests in negotiations and in the courtroom. Our dedicated and knowledgeable legal team will work to get the justice and compensation you deserve. If you or someone you love has been injured in a car accident, please contact us for a free consultation by filling out our convenient online form or calling 210-LAW-3000.