Posted By Alan Sackrin on July 8, 2014
Last Update: 12/31/16
Medical costs have never been higher than they are today, and in the aftermath of a car accident, the shock of how fast huge medical bills can pile up can be overwhelming. For some, they feel like their only options are to get a pay day loan, sell or borrow against their possessions at a pawnshop or get a title loan. There are other options (#5 below is likely the best option for many drivers in South Florida). So, what should you and your family do to pay all of those doctor bills and medical expenses after you have been in a Florida car crash?
1. Check your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance policy
Those who are the named insured on an automobile insurance policy here in Florida can file for help in covering medical costs under their “personal injury protection” or PIP coverage. This is a claim you file with your own insurance company after the crash, and it will not be a question of who is at fault in the crash. These are “no fault” benefits to you, and PIP will cover up to $10,000 of your health care costs. PIP benefits will be paid for medical care provided within 14 days after the accident.
Note: it will not cover every bill in total, PIP covers a percentage of the bills (80%) submitted to the company, and stops paying when a total amount of $10,000 has been paid.
2. MedPay Coverage
Florida drivers can purchase Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage in their car insurance plans. It’s not legally required like PIP. MedPay coverage will cover that remaining balance after PIP pays on a medical bill, for example. (Remember you have to meet your deductible first.)
How much will MedPay cover? It depends upon the amount of MedPay coverage you bought when you got the car insurance.
3. Medical Bills Over PIP Coverage Limits
If you’ve been seriously injured in an auto accident here in Florida, then it’s highly likely that your medical bills are going to run much higher than the $10,000 PIP Coverage limits. At this point, you can submit insurance claims to your personal health insurance carrier (Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Medicare, etc.).
There is still the matter of covering the deductible here, but your health insurance should cover the health care costs over and above the deductible and the amount covered by PIP.
4. Claim and/or Lawsuit Against the Other Driver
When you are in a car crash caused by the fault of another — another driver, or maybe a product defect like the recent GM ignition switch recall cases — then you can pursue justice in the Florida legal system against those who are responsible for your injuries. These battles take time, and when it comes time for your settlement claim to be negotiated or your lawsuit to reach a jury, it may be months or years after the accident occurred.
Some medical providers will not want to wait for the litigation to be resolved. You may need to deal with the medical expenses and doctor bills and drug costs in the meantime. Moreover, once you receive victory in your case, the insurance companies that paid your medical bills will exert their “subrogation rights” or the right to be reimbursed from your award for the money that they paid on your bills.
5. What If You Don’t Have Insurance Coverage?
If you’re hurt in a car accident and you don’t have insurance coverage (maybe you’re not covered on a company policy, or the circumstances don’t provide coverage, e.g., you are a pedestrian hurt in a hit and run), then obviously you are responsible for your medical bills and health care costs. Until your lawyer can resolve your claims against those responsible for your car accident your options are either to 1) ask your lawyer to reach out to your medical providers and let them know you have a car accident compensation claim and to let them know they will be paid from the proceeds of your settlement or 2) ask the medical provider to start you on a modest payment plan (less than a $80.00 per month) until your claim is settled. Most medical providers, especially hospitals, will work with you.
What Should You Do Now?
A good piece of advice if you need help in paying your medical bills after a car crash, is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about some of the other options you may have. Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in person) to answer your questions.
- Do You Still Have an Injury Claim if You Wait to See a Doctor or if You Don’t File a Timely Incident Report After an Accident?
- Pre-Existing Injury: How It Can Impact Your New Personal Injury Claim
- Can Settlement Negotiations Be Used Against You in Your Injury Case?
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to send Alan an email or call him now at (954) 458-8655.