When you have been in an accident, you should seek medical treatment immediately. Unfortunately, 43% of adults are inadequately insured in 2022, and if you are among that group, you may be reluctant to pursue medical care due to the inevitable high medical bills. Getting a car accident settlement from insurance, unfortunately, can take time, and hospitals often demand payment immediately. Even when you do get a personal injury settlement, it sometimes may not be enough to cover your basic medical treatment costs.
If you need help negotiating your medical expenses after a car accident settlement, the personal injury lawyers at the law firm of Montagna Law may be able to help. We will fight for your right to compensation for your medical costs, pain and suffering, and other losses and damages after an auto accident.
Virginia is a fault-based state for personal injury claims. According to state personal injury law, the at-fault party’s auto insurance company is required to pay your medical bills after an accident. Normally, your health insurance carrier will initially pay for your medical bills after the car accident. As normal, you will be responsible for covering any co-pays or deductibles out of pocket. It is common, however, for your health insurance provider to issue a medical lien while the case is ongoing.
A medical lien is a legal statement that the health insurance company has the right to recover money spent on your medical bills. Usually, this reimbursement comes from any personal injury settlement amount you get through the process of subrogation, but the insurance carrier can take other actions as well.
Many drivers in Virginia opt for med pay coverage on their car insurance policy. Med pay is a form of personal injury protection (PIP) that exists to cover you and those in your car in the case of an accident. If you have med pay, it can be used to pay for medical costs and lost wages after an accident. Medicare and Medicaid can sometimes also help cover costs if you have this coverage, but again, the healthcare providers may put a medical lien against your eventual settlement.
Personal injury cases can take a long time to settle, and it is not uncommon for accident victims to have difficulty paying their medical bills. Even an emergency room visit, after all, can be extremely expensive.
If your healthcare provider offers an insufficient settlement that will not even cover your initial injuries, let alone those requiring long-term treatment, it may be worth fighting for a higher settlement offer. That, unfortunately, can take even longer to resolve. In the meantime, do not eschew paying medical bills. Reach out to the hospital or medical providers to see if you can arrange a payment plan.
Outstanding medical bills that go unpaid can do serious damage to your credit rating that will last for years, even if your case gets resolved and you later get the settlement to pay them off. Because a personal injury case can take several years to resolve and hospital bills are issued within a few weeks, failing to address the issue could see you sent to a debt collection agency. It is vital that whatever you do, you address the issue.
Many healthcare providers will be willing to work with you to set up payment plans for your medical costs. Some hospitals may be willing to wait for the case to be settled. If they agree to this, be sure to have them put it in writing. This written statement will become important if you get sent to collections in the future.
If your hospital will not forbear your payment until your case is settled, see if you can work out a monthly payment with an amount of money you can afford in the meantime. Most hospitals will be understanding and simply want to get paid. They do not want to send you collections, as this can result in them getting less money overall.
If you are having a difficult time arranging payment for your out-of-pocket medical costs, your personal injury attorney at Montagna Law may be able to help. Call our law offices at 757-622-8100 or use our online contact form for a free consultation and legal advice about your case today.
It is vital that your eventual personal injury settlement covers all expenses related to your car accident. Your personal injury lawyer can help you calculate the true cost of your injuries. The portion of your settlement that covers your medical expenses should cover all of your medical bills related to the accident.
These include your doctor’s office visits, the cost of medication, diagnostics, medical procedures like surgery, physical therapy, and even transportation to and from your medical appointments. Medical bills can even include the costs of any necessary in-home care, like a visiting nurse or wound care specialist to treat you while you are recovering.
Your full injury settlement should cover more than just basic medical costs. It should also cover your lost wages and loss of potential future income as well as any non-economic damages like pain and suffering that you undergo. In a wrongful death case, you may even be eligible for funeral and burial costs, among other benefits.
Many people are shocked when they discover that despite a high award, they may not recover all of the money they are entitled to receive. The higher your potential compensation amount, in fact, the more likely it is that you will exceed the at-fault driver’s insurance policy limits. The insurance company may only pay you up to the limits of the insurance coverage in this case.
It is true that the at-fault driver is still technically responsible for paying the rest out of pocket, but it can be hard to collect money that they do not have to pay. Your personal injury lawyer from Montagna Law may be able to help you pursue avenues to collect the remainder of the money they owe.
After you come to an agreement with the at-fault party’s insurance company, your money is delivered either in a lump sum or a structured payment, depending on the nature of your agreement. The vast majority of personal injury settlements are awarded in a lump sum. Structured settlements are much rarer.
It is important to note, however, that even a structured settlement is not an ongoing payment for future medical bills. It is a means of dividing your total initial award into a series of payments. Your injury attorney will estimate the total cost of your bills past, present, and future in the course of your personal injury case, and that figure is what you will receive. Structured settlements are usually best in situations where you are afraid you will spend your entire lump sum and want some security against that.
Yes. Oftentimes, you do have to pay your medical bills out of your personal injury settlement. As mentioned above, your medical provider may place a lien on your settlement and collect reimbursement for your costs through the process of subrogation.
Subrogation is a legal concept that allows a party to seek reimbursement from someone who is legally liable for money that the initial party forwards. In this case, your insurance company paid your medical bills, and you owe them repayment out of your award.
Virginia has complex laws regarding this reimbursement. The state code does have an anti-subrogation statute prohibiting healthcare insurance providers from including subrogation clauses in contracts that are issued within the state. Federal laws, however, pre-empt this anti-subrogation statute in certain cases.
This is one reason why it is so important to have a Virginia car accident attorney in your corner. They can help you negotiate not just a settlement for your accident but also with your insurance company regarding how they will be reimbursed.
The two primary expenses that will be deducted from your personal injury settlement are medical bills and attorney fees. It is also, however, important to understand that your settlement will not be split into the amount you get for medical bills, the amount you get for lost wages, and the like. Regardless of what factors were included in the negotiations, when the settlement is delivered, it will simply be a lump sum of money.
This means that if your medical bills exceed the amount given, you could lose all of your settlement to medical bills, even the portion that was negotiated to cover your lost wages and pain and suffering. No portion of your settlement amount is in any way shielded from reimbursing your insurance carrier for the medical bills owed.
Montagna Law does work on a contingency fee basis, though. You can have peace of mind knowing that you will not owe us anything in attorney’s fees if we do not win your case. This also means that we will fight for you every step of the way. We not only care very deeply about the rights of our customers and value the integrity of our attorney-client relationship, but it is also in our best interest to fight for justice for you.
Several avenues are open to negotiate medical bills after a car accident settlement. The most direct of these is to simply call the hospital directly and negotiate payment. The first step is to ask the hospital for an itemized bill of your costs. This allows you to review the treatment and ensure that all of the charges are correct. It is not uncommon for hospital bills to contain incorrect information, including codes for procedures, duplicate charges, and even incorrect insurance information.
Next, look for other means to pay. You may be eligible for Medicaid and not realize it. You may have overlooked your med pay coverage. Some accident victims may be eligible for financial assistance for low-income patients under federal statutes, but the hospital may not automatically qualify you, and you may have to request this aid.
After you have explored all of these avenues, you can simply tell the hospital that you cannot afford the costs and ask them to reduce the charges. Specifically ask to be reduced to the Medicare rate, which healthcare providers are often willing to do and can come at a significant discount. Be willing to do a bit of fighting; you may even need to file a grievance with the hospital. Persistence, however, can result in significant discounts.
Never discount your attorney’s ability to help you negotiate costs. If the hospital refuses to negotiate with you, your attorney may have more pull with them. The process can take a few more months, but the attorneys at Montagna Law have decades of experience at the negotiating table and know how to stand up for your rights against at-fault drivers and your own healthcare provider if needed. While we cannot promise any specific results, you may even find that you come out of the process debt-free.
The personal injury lawyers at Montagna Law know how to make the law work for you. If you were hurt in a car accident or any other type of accident, you do not have to face your case alone. Our law offices can take on the fight against bullying insurance companies to earn you all the compensation you deserve while you focus on getting well again.
The law is complicated, and the defendant will have powerful insurance providers and lawyers on their side. We can stand up to even the playing field and increase your chances of securing the fair and full compensation you deserve for your hospital bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more. Request a free, no-obligation consultation through our online contact form, or call us at 757-622-8100.
Jon Montagna received a Bachelor of Arts in Literature from American University in Washington D.C. and graduated Cum Laude from the University of Miami School of Law in 1999. Jon practices law in the Hampton Roads Virginia area.