Accidents often result in substantial medical bills. Depending on the severity, victims may incur these medical expenses for years after the accident. However, depending on the facts of the case, victims may be entitled to compensation for these medical bills, as well as other accident-related costs, such as property damage and pain and suffering. Despite this, the victim will initially be responsible for paying his or her medical bills before the claim is settled.
In this article, we'll discuss how to pay your medical bills after an accident and how liability comes into play in an accident settlement. If you've been injured and have mountains of medical bills, you may be entitled to an accident settlement. Call or text our car accident lawyers to set up an initial consultation free of charge. During this consultation, we'll review your case and advise you of the best next steps based on the circumstances of your case. You can reach us by text or call at (602) 345-1818 or by filling out our convenient online contact form here.
You're Initially Responsible for Your Medical Bills After an Accident
After an accident, some people are surprised to find out that they are initially responsible for their medical expenses. This doesn't mean that you won't ultimately be compensated by the at-fault party (we'll discuss how fault factors into a settlement below). However, in the beginning, you'll typically be expected to pay for your own medical bills. Here are some options that victims may have when it comes to footing those initial bills:
- Using your own health insurance
- Getting a medical lien
- Using your health insurance + a medical lien
- Using MedPay insurance via your car insurance policy
Using Your Own Health Insurance Won't Hurt Your Case
If you have health insurance, use it. Some people believe that using their own health insurance will hurt their car accident claim – it will not. In fact, it's smart to use your health insurance. This means that you are getting the treatment you need, which helps you heal and documents your recovery efforts to help build your accident claim.
What If You Don't Have Health Insurance?
Unfortunately, not everyone has health insurance. In these cases, other options may exist. One such option is a medical lien. A medical lien will ensure the doctor or medical care provider that they will get paid once the accident claim is settled. This could be an alternative way to get the treatment you need following an accident.
While your insurance settlement is progressing, if you have health insurance, you may be able to use both your health insurance and a medical lien. An example of when this may be a good idea is if your health insurance doesn't cover a specific procedure; instead of having to pay out of pocket, a medical lien may help cover costs.
MedPay Auto Insurance May Be an Option for You
Sometimes, victims are able to use Medical Payment coverage to pay for some of their medical costs. This type of coverage is sometimes referred to as “MedPay.” This coverage is provided by your auto insurance policy. In Arizona and New Mexico, MedPay is not required. However, it's good coverage to have it, and it typically only costs a few extra dollars a month to include in your car insurance coverage. MedPay can help you cover medical expenses, deductibles, and copays.
However, the At-Fault Party Will Ultimately Be Responsible for Your Medical Bills
While you'll likely be expected to cover accident-related costs in the beginning, once liability has been established and your settlement is reached, you may be compensated for those losses by the at-fault party. Both Arizona and New Mexico are fault states. This means that the person who caused the accident is liable for the damages.
If fault falls on more than one person, both AZ and NM use a “pure comparative negligence” approach. This means that fault can be shared, and liability is divided among the responsible parties based on the percentage of fault each is determined to have contributed to the accident. Each party's settlement will also be reduced by the amount of fault they played in the incident.
For example, if a plaintiff was rewarded $100,000 in damages, and they were found to be 20% liable, they'd receive $80,000 in compensation from the defendant who was found to be 80% responsible for the wreck.
In cases where more than one party is deemed liable, things can quickly get pretty confusing. To improve your odds of getting the settlement you need and deserve, especially if you are partially at fault in the accident, you should contact a car accident lawyer.
Potential Compensation After a Car Accident
Of course, your medical bills should be included in your potential car accident claim settlement, but there are other losses you may have sustained due to the accident. Depending on your case and how it progresses, you may be entitled to economic damages (like medical bills and property damage), non-economic damages (like pain and suffering or emotional trauma), and punitive damages (which are additional amounts that the court may order a defendant to pay to dissuade future behavior that is especially harmful to society). Your car accident lawyer will help you calculate your total losses to fully understand the extent of your car accident settlement. Remember that every case is unique, and these damages won't exist in all cases. The facts of each case will determine the appropriate damages owed to a claimant.
Reach out to an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer for Free
If you have medical bills or other accident-related expenses due to the negligence of someone else, schedule a free legal consultation with our car accident lawyers today to find out what your case may be worth. Legal compensation may allow you to recover and heal. We are committed to helping accident victims get their lives back. Call or text (602) 345-1818 today to set up your free consultation or fill out our online form here.
The content on this website is for general information purposes only. For legal advice regarding your specific situation, consult a knowledgeable lawyer at Impact Legal.
We serve car accident clients in both Arizona and New Mexico. From Phoenix to Mesa and Santa Fe to Albuquerque and every county and city in between, calling Impact Legal's car accident lawyers is the right choice.