After a serious car accident, you might find yourself struggling to get out from under a growing pile of medical bills. Fortunately, there are several options available that may be able to help you cover these expenses. Before you write the hospital a check, read this article and learn how you can address your medical bills after a car wreck.
Identify Payment Sources for Your Medical Bills
After a car crash, it’s important to carefully assess both the negligent driver’s insurance coverage and your own policy. Depending on the types of coverage available and their policy limits, you might have a variety of claims for compensation, including:
When someone else’s negligence causes a car crash in North Carolina, you should be able to file a claim against their liability insurance policy. You can file a claim for your losses, including the amount of your reasonable and necessary medical expenses, up to the driver’s policy limits.
Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM)
If the driver who hit you is uninsured or has very low policy limits that won’t cover your medical bills, your personal injury lawyer can help you file a claim against your own uninsured/underinsured motorist policy, assuming you have one (which is always a good idea).
Med Pay is another optional type of coverage that you can add to your auto insurance policy in North Carolina. If you have Med Pay coverage, it will cover your reasonable and necessary medical bills up to your policy limits. Unlike other types of auto insurance in North Carolina, Med Pay is a no-fault system. In other words, it should cover your bills regardless of who caused the accident.
If you have health insurance, either through your employer or a public agency, you should submit your bills to your insurance company for payment. (We’ll explain why this is important later in the article). Keep in mind that if your health care providers have access to your insurance information, they may have already submitted your medical bills to your insurer without even notifying you.
If you suffered injuries because of someone else’s negligence and you were working at the time, workers’ compensation may cover your injuries. Usually, workers’ compensation is an “exclusive remedy,” which means that once you receive workers’ compensation benefits for an injury, you can’t file any other claims related to that injury. However, in some instances — like if another person causes a car accident and injures you while you’re on the job — you may have a claim against that person. If workers’ compensation applies and you also decide to file a claim against the other driver’s insurance company, then you may have to pay the workers’ compensation insurance company back.
If the types of insurance coverage listed above either don’t apply or don’t cover the extent of your medical bills, then you’ll be responsible for the balance. Trying to figure out which types of coverage apply to your situation can be a confusing process, so if you need help, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.
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You Should File with Your Health Insurance, Even if You Might Have to Reimburse Your Insurance Company When You Settle Your Claims
If you have health insurance, then we recommend that you file all the claims you can with your health insurer. Sometimes your personal injury claim can take a long time to resolve, depending on the issues. Meanwhile, the medical providers may not care that you’re waiting for your injury claim to settle, and they might send your bills to collections. Filing timely claims with your health insurance company prevents you from having to worry about collections and the resulting damage to your credit.
Under North Carolina law, the company that provides your private health insurance policy can’t demand repayment of medical bills that they’ve already covered, even if you later receive compensation to address those bills via insurance benefits or a settlement.
However, this is not true for public health insurance plans such as Medicare and Medicaid, or if you have coverage through your job and your employer qualifies under a federal law called the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA). If Medicare or Medicaid pays your medical bills, and you later file an insurance claim and receive compensation for those bills, you’ll have to reimburse the government. If you have an ERISA plan, you may have to pay back your health insurance company.
If you have a type of health insurance that requires reimbursement, you and your lawyer should contact the relevant program before you settle your injury claims. If you fail to account for these reimbursements when you receive a settlement, you might face significant fines and penalties.
At Myers Law Firm, we work to ensure that our clients comply with reimbursement rules for Medicaid, Medicare, and ERISA. If you become eligible for Medicaid or Medicare while we represent you, let us know right away. Usually, we need to contact these organizations at least 30 days before we settle a claim to make sure your compensation complies with state and federal laws.
If You Have Unpaid Medical Bills, Watch Out for Liens
If you work with an attorney to file a personal injury claim and you receive financial compensation, then any doctors, practices, hospitals, or ambulance services to whom you owe money may be able to receive a portion of your award or settlement. One tool that these providers can use to get the money you owe them is called a lien.
A lien essentially gives someone the right to an asset or amount of money. If a medical provider successfully files a lien against a portion of your injury settlement, then the provider has the right to receive some of the settlement funds. If there are any liens against your injury claims, those liens will get paid out of your settlement using a mathematical formula established by North Carolina law.
However, medical providers must follow specific rules before they can file a lien. First, the provider must give you or your lawyer copies of your medical records and bills, and they must do so at no cost to you. Second, the provider must send a written notice to you or your lawyer advising you about the lien.
Sometimes, medical providers will negotiate a reduction in the value of medical bills or liens. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your claim, your personal injury lawyer might be able to cut down on your liens and outstanding medical bills, especially if you’re settling your claims for less than the total amount of your medical bills.
For more information about medical liens and your options to address medical bills after a car wreck, schedule your free consultation with Myers Law Firm today.
Myers Law Firm: Fighting for Car Accident Victims in and Around Charlotte, North Carolina
At Myers Law Firm, we understand that a serious car crash can leave you with confusion, stress, and anxiety — not to mention lots of medical bills. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to someone else’s negligence, we’re here to help. When you choose us to represent you, we’ll act as your advocate and use our legal experience and resources to fight relentlessly for you.
To schedule your free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer from Myers Law Firm, call our offices today at 888-376-2889 or fill out our online contact form. We’ll use this time to get to know you, learn about your case, and inform you about your legal options so you can go forward with confidence.
Lien created; applicable to persons non sui juris. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 44-49 (2001). Retrieved from https://www.ncleg.net/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/PDF/ByArticle/Chapter_44/Article_9.pdf
The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.