News & Updates from Hodge & Langley

I’m Hurt after a Crash: Who will pay these medical bills?

Written by Charles J. Hodge on November 6th 2017.

Being in a car crash that was not your fault can result in a lot of opportunities to claim things “just aren’t fair.” It’s not fair that your car was ruined by someone without insurance to help pay for repairs. It’s not fair that you have to miss work due to injury. It’s not fair that despite being innocent, you have to regularly prove that you did nothing wrong. And it’s not fair that the injuries you received are leading to high medical bills.

Unfortunately, that “not fair” feeling extends quite a bit when you start talking about hospitals. Being in a car accident in South Carolina can quickly result in steep medical bills. Ambulance rides are often $500 or more, and seeing a doctor in the emergency room can quickly total more than $1000, even for a simple visit. And as you watch those bills increase, you’re likely assuming that the at-fault person (the other driver) is going to pay those bills. This is not always true, and the timing is not on your side (yup, not fair).

Couple struggles to understand medical bills after car crash

Pay now, or pay more later.

The cost of your medical care is charged to your name the moment you leave the hospital. Assuming you have medical insurance, your insurance company will be billed as well. (Side note: Make sure your insurance company is billed, and not the other driver’s insurance. You want to cover your own expenses first, and get all proper medical care you need). You’ll also need to pay any co-pays when you check out. (Another side note: Many times health insurance companies have a subrogation interest, or a right to recoup settlement money from you, that you are contractually obligated to address upon settlement of a claim. Skilled attorneys can make all the difference in properly analyzing and negotiating these interests and protecting you from unnecessary charges.)

The key issue here is timing. Your medical bills will come due very soon after your hospital stay or treatments, but any money you receive in a car accident settlement won’t be available for months (or even years). So if you wait to pay until you’ve been reimbursed by the other driver’s insurance, or buy a court’s decision – then you’ll likely be in debt and in trouble with collection companies.

So when your medical bills start coming in, make every effort pay them, even if that feels unfair. If you have medical insurance, make sure your bills are going to your insurer as well to help cover your charges. Then it’s a matter of time to wait for any settlements to come in to pay you back for those payments.

If you choose to wait for the settlement before making any payments, you may ruin your credit score, get calls from collection companies, and/or set yourself up for fights with insurance companies. So pay your bills on time, and let a capable lawyer work on ensuring you’re paid back in the future.

Posted in Motor Vehicle Accidents