Nobody ever wants to experience a personal injury accident. Regrettably, however, significant numbers of these mishaps occur around the US every year. And like other states, Florida frequently experiences its fair share of such events. Having legal counsel after personal injury accidents is essential because these incidents often give rise to major medical expenses. And if victims fail to get treated after an accident and they suffered serious injuries, they may never return to their previous income level and way of living. Unfortunately, however, today’s high medical costs make some accident survivors wary of seeking treatment. Thus, it is critical to understand who covers the medical bills after a personal injury mishap.
Who Pays the Medical Expenses Arising from a Personal Injury Accident?
Each state in the US has its own laws that determine who assumes the liability in personal injury claims. In some states, the party at fault is responsible. However, Florida functions under a no-fault system, whereby victims who experience personal injuries in the state cannot take legal action against the party who is at fault to pay their immediate medical bills. However, Florida accident victims have alternative ways of receiving compensation. Some of these means are explained below.
Ongoing Medical Treatment Relating to an Accident
Although you may expect to obtain a sizeable sum when your personal injury lawsuit is settled, you’re likely to be accountable for your own medical expenses in the intervening period. If you’re injured in any kind of accident, even if you choose to file a personal injury claim, you will probably begin receiving medical bills for any treatment or therapy you receive long before reaching a settlement.
Having the means to pay for these recurring medical expenses is a major issue for many people who choose to make personal injury claims. Continue reading to learn more about this topic.
Victims are Responsible for Paying Their Own Medical Bills before a Settlement
Whatever type of personal injury claim you file, the universal rule is that you’re accountable for paying your own medical expenses, or for making sure they’re paid. This can be accomplished either through your health insurance coverage, through any other type of relevant insurance coverage, or with your own funds. If you’re hurt in an accident and possess health insurance, your medical expenses will be billed to your insurer, and the insurer will then cover your medical costs. The insurance company will most often be reimbursed for these payments from any proceeds coming from your settlement.
Using Insurance may be an Option for some injured parties
Paying your recurring medical bills using your health insurance can be one expedient way to cover your medical expenses while you wait for your personal injury case to be resolved.
Car insurance coverage called “personal injury protection” (PIP) coverage is required in Florida, and will cover up to the first $10,000.00 in medical expenses. Your PIP insurance policy may also cover some additional expenses, for example loss of income. Your PIP policy will only cover injuries that are accident related.
Some auto and property insurance policies may include Medical Payments (medpay), which would be a separate policy or could be added to your policy to help offset medical costs. Medpay policies will cover medical expenses regardless of fault. It can be available to people injured due to slip and fall accidents on someone else’s property. If your automobile or homeowner’s insurance policy contains such coverage, the insurer will pay your medical bills up to the specific limits of your policy.
Any medical costs that exceed the PIP and Medpay policy limits are your duty to cover.
If you lack health insurance coverage and no other insurance options are available to you, you will have to pay your medical expenses out of your own pocket, and this could cause a significant financial burden if your injuries are serious.
Situations Where Injury Victims need not Pay Their Medical Bills
Some exceptions exist that can relieve you, if only for the short term, of the duty to ensure that your post-accident medical bills are covered.
Car Accidents that Occur in No-fault States
Several states including Florida operate under a no-fault car insurance arrangement. Through this system, insurers pay for a car accident victim’s medical bill and a few other economic losses, no matter who was at fault in the accident. If the victim’s medical bills go beyond the limits of their coverage, they will be liable for paying the excess amount themselves.
Healthcare Provider’s Letter of Protection (LOP)
Some healthcare providers may be willing to place a hold on an injury victim’s medical bills until their personal injury case is settled. The letter of protection (LOP) is an agreement between the provider and the injured plaintiff, wherein the provider agrees to provide immediate medical treatment and will wait for the plaintiff’s case to be settled before seeking reimbursement for their bills. However, once the case is settled, the victim is responsible for paying their medical bills out of the settlement proceeds. If for some reason the plaintiff’s personal injury case is dismissed and they obtain no compensation, they can be accountable for paying all their outstanding medical expenses out of their own resources.
Pre-Settlement Loans are Often Available
Pre-settlement loans are also an option for plaintiffs in personal injury cases, but such loans often require the assistance of a personal injury attorney. And the amount that’s loaned — plus the interest accrued — will be deducted from any settlement amount that is received.
When a plaintiff seeks to obtain a loan or an advance against a personal injury settlement to cover medical bills, they run a significant risk. As with health care provider hold agreements, if their case is dismissed after a pre-settlement loan is secured, they may be required to pay back the loan on their own.
Health Insurer Reimbursement
It’s important to remember that once a plaintiff receives a settlement after succeeding in a personal injury case their insurer has the right to make a claim against the settlement in order to be reimbursed for the bills they paid on the plaintiff’s behalf. This right to reimbursement is based on the principle that a plaintiff cannot be compensated twice for the same damages. In other words, if an insurer pays the medical bills for a plaintiff in a personal injury case, the plaintiff cannot also be compensated by the defendant for the same bills.
The Law Offices of Nerina Smart, P.A. Can Help You Navigate Medical Treatment After an Accident
With many years of experience in assisting Florida accident victims, The Law Offices of Nerina Smart, P.A. can guide you in understanding Florida’s no-fault system and in making sure that you receive the maximum compensation in your personal injury case. Contact us today for a free consultation!