If you have been injured in a car accident, getting medical treatment is an urgent matter. While the at-fault driver is responsible for paying your expenses, winning a settlement from his or her insurance company can take months. So how can you get the treatment you need right away, and when will your bills be paid? Discussing your case with a personal injury lawyer in Houston, TX can help you address the medical bills while you pursue compensation.
How Are Medical Bills Paid After a Car Accident in Texas?
In Texas, the driver who caused the accident is responsible for paying the other driver’s medical expenses. To receive compensation, you will need to prove that he or she was responsible for the crash. The best way to make a strong case against the other driver is by hiring a lawyer to conduct an investigation. Once you have evidence in your favor, you and your lawyer will be able to pursue a settlement or a personal injury lawsuit.
In the meantime, the hospital and providers who treat you will need assurance that they will receive payment. As a rule, you should always go to the ER first and worry about the medical bills later. Most likely, you will initially cover the bills through your health insurance. Once the settlement is won, the health insurance company can seek to be reimbursed out of the payout through a process called insurance subrogation.
Deferring Your Medical Bills
Problems sometimes arise for individuals who do not have enough health insurance to cover their medical expenses. If it is necessary to defer your medical bills until after the settlement or lawsuit is concluded, you might be able to negotiate with your provider. The provider can decide whether or not to defer the bills on your behalf.
If your provider agrees to defer your bills, you will likely need to sign a contract stating that you will be responsible for covering the expenses regardless of your case’s outcome. Some providers may be more likely to defer the bills if they receive a letter from your lawyer promising that the medical expenses will be covered by the payout in the event that your case is successful.
Other Ways to Address Medical Bills After a Car Crash
If your health insurance will not cover all of the medical bills and your provider doesn’t agree to defer them, you still have options. While you and your lawyer are working on getting your payout, you can try these tactics:
Use PIP Insurance
Personal injury protection insurance (PIP) is sometimes included in auto policies. It covers the medical expenses that result from accidents. In Texas, your insurance provider is obligated to offer PIP, and it is up to you as the policyholder to opt-out of it. If you have PIP and you are injured in a crash, you can use your policy regardless of who was at fault.
Unlike health insurance providers, PIP providers have no subrogation rights, meaning that you will not need to reimburse them if you win a settlement that includes medical expenses. Some individuals can use PIP until it runs out and then cover the balance of their bills by using their health insurance policy.
Settle With Your Provider
If you are unable to avoid paying out of pocket, you will probably not be held accountable for the full cost of your medical bills. Most providers are willing to apply a self-pay discount of up to 50% for individuals who need to cover the cost of their treatments themselves.
Winning a Settlement
For most people, winning a settlement is a crucial aspect of ensuring that the medical expenses get paid. Working with a personal injury lawyer in Houston, TX greatly increases your chances of successfully holding the other driver accountable. You can expect your lawyer to guide you through several steps as you navigate the legal system:
The Initial Consultation
When you meet with your lawyer for the first time, you will be given the opportunity to share the details of your case, including when, where, and how the accident happened. Your lawyer will review some potential outcomes for your case, including assessing your chances of success. If the two of you decide to work together, you will sign a contract called a retainer, which makes the relationship official.
Your consultation will also include a discussion of the legal fees. Most personal injury attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning that their rate will come out of the settlement in addition to the amount of money needed to cover the medical bills. Hiring an attorney on a contingency fee basis means that you will not need to add legal fees to your list of immediate concerns as you are sorting out your accident-related expenses.
Negotiating With the Insurance Company
Once you are clear on how much the other driver’s insurance company should be liable to pay, your lawyer can send them a demand letter stating the amount of money they need to provide. The insurance company can then respond with a settlement offer, which is essentially an agreement to provide a certain amount of money by way of closing the matter without going to court.
The first settlement offer you receive may or may not be sufficient to cover your expenses. If it is not, your lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company for more money. In order to negotiate aggressively, he or she will cite the evidence pertaining to your case, such as your medical records, witness statements, and footage from the scene of the crash.
Going to Court
Most car accident claims resolve in a settlement instead of a court battle. However, there is a chance that the insurance company will refuse to pay you a reasonable amount. In that case, you have the right to take them to trial, where your lawyer will litigate on your behalf.
Receiving the Payout and Covering the Medical Bills
If your case is successful, you will receive a payout within approximately six weeks. Under normal circumstances, the check will go to your lawyer, who will use it to pay any liens on the settlement, including your unpaid medical bills. After he or she takes out the liens and the legal expenses, you will receive the balance. The balance might include:
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional damages
- Other damages to which you are entitled
Maximizing the Payout
If you are working with a qualified attorney, he or she will fight to ensure that your payout covers your medical bills and all of your other accident-related damages. Thoroughly itemizing all of the damages you are entitled to, gathering ample evidence, and aggressively representing your interests are the keys to maximizing your compensation. When you are looking for a lawyer, it is important to choose someone with extensive experience and strong communication skills.
Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer in Houston, TX
Facing your medical bills after a car accident is not something that you need to do alone. Getting sound legal advice from a lawyer who is qualified to represent you can help you regain control over your medical expenses. To learn more about how to win compensation for your medical bills and other damages, contact Houston Injury Lawyers PLLC.