How Will I Pay My Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
Immediately after a car accident, you may have a lot of concerns. The least of your worries—at least in the short term—may be the medical expenses that your treatment is costing you. At some point, those expenses will become due, or you will need a procedure that is exorbitantly costly. How does someone in a car accident pay for their medical bills and expenses?
In Florida, all drivers are required to carry what is known as personal injury protection, or PIP. This is “no-fault insurance,” meaning that these benefits are available to you regardless of fault—even if you are the one that caused the accident, and even if your car was the only vehicle involved in the accident.
For medical expenses, PIP will pay for 80% of your medical bills, minus any deductible that your policy may have (there are additional coverages that you can buy that will also pay for the deductible as well as the 20% that PIP does not cover).
PIP does have a limit of $10,000. That is not a huge amount of money, especially for someone who, after an accident, may have multiple injuries, who may need to see multiple doctors, or who may need procedures, diagnostics, or surgeries.
Letters of Protection
PIP only pays 80%, you may have a deductible, and your expenses may exceed PIP’s $10,000 limit. How do you pay for treatment after that?
Many doctors will continue to treat you based on a contract called a letter of protection (LOP). Not all doctors will accept an LOP. An LOP is a contractual promise you make that you will pay back whatever you owe to your doctor out of the proceeds of your settlement or verdict, when and if you get one.
The benefit of an LOP is that it allows you to continue to get treatment, and you can do so without having to worry about having your bills sent to collections while you are waiting for your case to settle or be heard at trial.
Private health insurance is also a viable way to pay your medical expenses. Most insurance policies require that you use your PIP and exhaust its limits, before using health insurance.
One drawback to using health insurance is that at the conclusion of your case, whether you settle or win a jury verdict at trial, your health insurance company will assert a right of subrogation. This means that they will expect to be paid back from you, for anything they spent on your medical treatment for injuries related to the accident.
Sometimes, your attorney can negotiate with the insurance company, so that you do not have to repay them dollar for dollar. Still, if you do use health insurance, remember that they will want some of your settlement or verdict, even if it’s just a small amount.
The Tampa car accident attorneys at Barbas, Nuñez, Sanders, Butler & Hovsepian are here to answer your questions about getting treatment after an accident. If you have suffered an injury, talk to us about the facts of your case. Schedule a consultation today.