personal injury medical billsIf you’ve been in injured in a car accident, the medical bills can pile up quickly.

And Utah law doesn’t demand the at-fault driver necessarily pay for all of the victim’s losses and damages. Instead, at the end of the day, you are legally responsible for all your bills.

If your car insurance policy meets the state requirement of a minimum $3,000 worth of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, then you will most likely draw on that protection first.

If unpaid medical bills remain after you use your PIP, you might legally be entitled to reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, not just for medical bills but for other losses and damages. Reimbursement will depend on the cost of your medical expenses as well as the at-fault driver’s specific insurance policy.

You and your lawyer can calculate how much money the other driver’s insurance company will most likely give you. This calculation is not simple or straightforward, and finding out how much your personal injury case is worth takes a great deal of know-how and expertise. If interested in this service, schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys.

Once it is established that the insurance company legalIy owes you, rest assured that eventually all your medical bills will be paid. You will be reimbursed for all or most of your out-of-pocket expenses.

But until then, what can you do? It takes many months for the legal dust to settle and for your settlement to finally arrive. The at-fault driver’s insurance company will not pay you as your bills come but rather in one lump sum at the end of your case. What do you do until that check arrives? Our attorneys suggest the following.

1. Get your health insurance to help

Ask you medical provider to forward your bills to the health insurance company if you haven’t yet. The health insurance company will often pay the cost–at least part. However, you will probably still have out-of-pocket expenses.

Depending on your health insurance, you might still have to pay your policy’s co-pays and deductibles. You insurance also might only cover a portion of the cost, leaving you to pay the rest. If you are pursuing a settlement and win, then all these costs will be reimbursed at the time of settlement.

Teddy bear patched upIf you do use your health insurance, you might have to pay the health insurance company back. Generally, this is only if you are awarded a settlement. If you receive a settlement, then your health insurance or employer’s health plan might have a right to be reimbursed for your medical bills. This is a complicated area of law known as subrogation. Be sure to review and discuss your health insurance policy with your attorney so you can plan for this, if need be. At Christensen & Hymas, we have had  success in reducing the health insurance company’s subrogation claim, and we give the money we win back to you as our client.

If your health insurance doesn’t cover any or enough of your expenses, and you still can’t pay, you have a few more options which your attorney can help you with.

2. Set up a lien with the medical provider

In a personal injury case, you can set up a lien with your medical provider and attorney. Lien’s consist of a legally binding contract that sets out the terms of payment agreement. In this lien, your medical provider agrees to wait for payment until the case settles. You attorney agrees to pay the medical provider before releasing any settlement funds to you. And you, the client, agree that no matter the outcome of the case, you still will take responsibility for the bills and eventually pay them all.

A lien can be a good option. You don’t have to worry about medical bills until receiving a settlement. However, some medical providers, refuse to accept liens.

money for medical bills3. Pay cash/monthly payments

If you pay all of your medical expenses up front with cash, you can typically receive a cash payment discount. However, this is not an option for many people.

If you are unable to pay the whole bill at once, you can istead try to set up a payment plan with your medical provider. If you make minimum monthly payments, you can keep the account current and avoid having the account sent to collections and affecting your credit.

4. Let the bills go to collections and set up a lien with collections

Even if the medical provider will not accept a lien, some collection companies do. In some cases, the advantage to setting up a lien with a collections company is that the company will not record the overdue payments on your credit report. But in other cases, even if you set up a lien, the collection company will record the overdue payment on your credit report.

If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance or enough insurance

All of the above is dependent on the at-fault driver having sufficient insurance coverage for you to claim payment from. If the other driver doesn’t have car insurance or doesn’t have sufficient coverage, then you can dip into your own Uninsured Motorist or Underinsured Motorist coverage if you have included them in your own auto insurance plan. If you don’t have either of these coverages, then you might be stuck with a lot of medical bills. If this is your case, we suggest you contact an attorney for personal advice.

Photo “Medicine Cost” copyright to Images Money

Photo “Teddy Bear Hospital” copyright to Christiaan Triebert

Photo “Budgeting” copyright to 401(K) 2012

 

Ken Christensen
Partner, Founder at Christensen & Hymas
Ken Christensen is the founding partner of Christensen & Hymas. He is an avid cyclist, loves baseball, and enjoys spending time with his family in the outdoors.

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