If you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, you are likely facing substantial medical bills. While you will have to pay these bills initially, if the accident was caused by another driver their insurance company should eventually reimburse you. Of course, the other driver’s insurance company will only reimburse your medical expenses up to the limit of the individual’s policy. If your medical bills exceed that limit, your health insurance policy should cover the rest of your expenses. However, much depends on the terms of the responsible party’s automobile insurance and your health insurance. Under Alabama law, each car owner must have a minimum of $25,000 in liability insurance for any accident they cause.
How the Insurance System Works
Auto insurance companies do not pay hospitals and healthcare providers directly after an accident. The car accident victim is eventually paid directly by the insurance company once there is a settlement, but the process can take months – sometimes years. As far as medical providers are concerned, the injured party is responsible for paying the bills. If medical bills are unpaid, the motor vehicle accident victim may find creditors coming after them. At the least, their credit rating will take a serious hit.
Negotiated Fee Plans
Many people do not realize that when they have health insurance, their bills are paid through the insurer’s negotiated fee plans with the service providers. For example, if the car crash results in a broken leg, the cost of surgery is far less than an uninsured person would have to pay out-of-pocket. Under a negotiated fee plan, the insurance company might pay $10,000 for such surgery, while an uninsured person would have to pay the full freight of the costs, perhaps $25,000 or $30,000. An auto insurance policy does not have the same negotiated fee plan for accidents that a health insurance policy has in place.
Medical Bills and Health Insurance
If you are involved in a car accident, it is vital to have a doctor examine you. Some conditions are not immediately apparent, and a delay in seeking treatment could mean the other driver’s insurance company will argue the injuries did not result from the car accident. Whiplash injuries, one of the most common types of rear-end auto crash injuries, may not appear until 48 hours or more after the collision. Save all of your receipts for any deductibles or co-pays paid out-of-pocket. Even though you are responsible for these amounts through your health insurance policy in the beginning, the car accident settlement may include these out-of-pocket costs.
Car Accident Victims Without Health Insurance
If you are the victim of a car wreck and do not have health insurance, the stress from potential bankruptcy or the loss of your life savings over medical and hospital bills may affect you as much as your injury. Do not panic, but contact a personal injury attorney immediately. In many cases, a lawyer can work together with medical providers who will treat injured victims without health insurance.
Recoverable Medical Bills
An injured person may be alarmed at the sheer number of medical bills they receive after an accident, but most of these are recoverable from the at-fault party’s insurance company. These include:
- Ambulance services
- Emergency room visit
- Emergency room doctor
- Physical therapy
- In-home medical care
- Follow-up visits
Again, keep a record of all medical bills for insurance settlement purposes.
Car Accident Damages
In Alabama, car accident compensation, also known as damages, includes economic and non-economic factors. Economic damages include medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs, while noneconomic damages include pain and suffering. There is an important caveat. Alabama uses the contributory negligence standard when it comes to motor vehicle accidents, which is not the case in the majority of states. Under the contributory negligence standard, a driver who is partly at fault for the accident cannot recover damages. On the other hand, a driver found completely at fault is responsible for all damages.
Statute of Limitations
Alabama’s statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident. That may seem like a long time, but if you have been injured in a car crash because of another driver’s negligence, it is critical to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. It is crucial for the attorney to interview witnesses, retrieve any surveillance video of the car crash and photograph the vehicle and scene.
Failure to make a claim within these timeframes means you cannot recover damages. If there is a delay in the insurance claim process, that could lead to missing the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury lawsuit.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the actions of another driver, you need the services of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Warren & Simpson, P.C. Call us today at 256-539-7575 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation. We fight aggressively for our clients so that they may receive the compensation they deserve. While most cases are settled, we do not hesitate to go to trial when necessary.