One of the biggest sources of anxiety for accident victims is how they are going to pay their bills. Not only do they face significant medical expenses and the cost of repairing or replacing their vehicle, but they may be unable to work due to their injuries. Unexpected, unbudgeted expenses plus a sudden loss of income can put most people into a financial crisis. If you have suffered a serious injury in an accident, pursuing a legal claim may be your only option for recovering the compensation you need. An experienced personal injury lawyer can help you rebuild your life and hold the responsible party accountable.
Is There Insurance Available?
In most accident cases, the injured party is pursuing a claim under the other party’s insurance policy. This is particularly the case with motor vehicle accidents but also premises liability cases, medical malpractice claims, and other types of injury claims. If the responsible party does not have insurance, your options for recovery may be fairly limited. A corporate entity may have the resources to pay your claim, but private individuals rarely do.
Your Health Insurance
Of course, your own insurance may provide coverage. Health insurance will cover your medical expenses, less any deductibles and copays which can be significant. Of course, your health insurance will not cover your lost wages, pain and suffering, or other losses. We also realize that not everyone has the benefit of health insurance coverage.
If you were injured in a car accident, you can look to your PIP (personal injury protection) coverage under your auto policy. Florida is a no-fault liability state, which means that PIP will provide coverage regardless of who was at fault. However, PIP coverage is subject to the following limitations:
- 80% of your medical expenses up to $10,000
- 60% of your lost wages up to $10,000
While PIP will provide some coverage, it will not cover all of your medical expenses or lost income. Given the current cost of medical care, it is likely that your bills will exceed $10,000. And if you suffer a permanent disability, your lost income will be far more than $10,000.
Your uncovered losses mean unpaid bills, and unfortunately, many people do not realize that until it’s too late. If you have suffered a serious injury, the best thing to do is contact a personal injury lawyer to advocate for your rights.
How the Claim Process Can Help You Pay Your Bills
Even if it is obvious that you will need to pursue legal action to get the compensation you need, it is important to understand that you will not get paid right away. In fact, it could take several weeks or even months depending on the facts and circumstances of your case. This can create a very difficult situation for many accident victims.
Understanding the claim process can help you manage your expectations. The process begins with making a demand for payment upon the responsible party and their insurance carrier. They may deny your claim or make a settlement offer. You then have the option of accepting or rejecting their offer. If you reject their offer, you can make a counter-offer or you can decide to file suit. Most people choose to try to negotiate a settlement in order to avoid going to court as litigation can be very time-consuming.
However, litigation is sometimes the only option for getting fair compensation for your claim. In some cases, you need to be aggressive and file suit as soon as possible. For these reasons, you should consider hiring a personal injury lawyer as early as possible - they can provide advice as to the fairness of any settlement offers and when you should file suit.
Pay the Bills You Can First
You can use your own insurance to pay medical expenses and other losses without compromising your claim. You should still keep track of all receipts, bills, and invoices because you will need those to prove your case. Just because they have been paid by insurance does not mean that they are no longer important.
As mentioned above, your PIP coverage should cover some of your losses if you have been injured in a car accident. Any medical bills not covered by PIP should be submitted to your health insurance carrier. After that, do not pay any medical expenses out of pocket without first consulting with a personal injury lawyer. Your insurance will likely cover the cost to repair or replace your vehicle with no dispute.
Lost income is more difficult. The first thing you should do is prioritize your bills and expenses to determine where you may be able to cut back. Again, PIP will cover up to 60% of your lost income - you can use this to pay your mortgage and make sure that other necessary bills are paid. If you have disability insurance (either a policy you purchased or a group policy available through your employer), you may be able to use that to pay other bills. An experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine what sources of income may be available to you and how to make a claim.
For most people, the biggest expense they will face is their medical bills. Even if they have health insurance, they may have significant out-of-pocket expenses. This can be incredibly intimidating but the good news is that you do not need to drain your savings if you are actively pursuing a claim with a personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can inform any medical providers and hospitals that you are pursuing a negligence claim and they will be paid from the proceeds of your settlement. Your medical creditors will then assert a lien to protect their claims. Once your claim is successfully settled, your lawyer can then negotiate payment of those liens.
Injured? Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer at Powell, Powell & Powell
Facing the future after your accident can be overwhelming. The good news is that you do not need to face it alone. Contact Powell, Powell & Powell to work with a personal injury lawyer who can help you put your accident behind you. Call us today at 850-682-2757 to schedule a free consultation.