This is one of the areas where a lot of people get confused. Many people mistakenly believe that the defendant’s insurance will cover their medical bills as they go so they should give the defendant’s claim number to their medical providers. This could not be further from the truth in a typical car accident and can lead to collection actions, not getting the treatment necessary, and early settlements. By giving a hospital, doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist, etc. the defendant’s claim number, the defendant insurance company only will pay these medical providers once you settle, which could be months or a year or two from the date of the car accident.
If you give the defendant’s claim number to the hospital, ER, ambulance, doctor, chiropractor, massage therapist, or physical therapist, these medical providers will be notified that they will not be paid immediately, which these providers will most likely open up a collections action against you because they have not been paid within 30 days. This is because the defendant’s insurance company will not pay anyone until you settle with them and will not pay bills that you haven’t accrued yet. This means if you need more treatment but want the defendant’s insurance to pay right now, you will not be able to get your future medical treatment covered by the defendant’s insurance.
The defendant’s insurance company will use this to their advantage in some situations and try to force you to settle early before you get the full medical treatment that you need. With mounting bills and the insurance company holding all the money saying you don’t need more treatment with a take it or leave it approach, it is very tempting to settle early without getting all the medical treatment that you need following a car accident injury case.
The exception to the rule: If you are a passenger, bicyclist, or pedestrian hit by a another car, you can use their PIP insurance to cover your medical costs and they will be paid shortly thereafter. In a typical car accident where you are in a car hit by another driver, the other driver’s insurance will not give you PIP coverage, rather you must use your own or the driver of the car you were in and their PIP coverage.
How do I pay for my medical bills then? What you should do is use your own personal injury protection plan under your car insurance policy or use your medical insurance to cover the medical bills. These will be primary over the defendant’s insurance which will then pay back your car insurance PIP plan or medical insurance.
What if you don’t have medical insurance or a PIP policy under your car insurance? The good news is that your personal injury lawyer can work out with your medical providers an agreement to get paid out of the settlement and delay collection actions. Not all medical providers will agree to wait to be paid out of the settlement and may demand payment immediately, however, most are willing to work with you and your attorney on either a payment plan or complete deferment until the case is settled. If these facilities are not willing to do this, there are many medical providers that are willing to upon a signed lien with your attorney.
Does the defendant’s insurance get off for free then? No, the defendant’s insurance company will compensate you for all medical bills that have been paid by your medical insurance and your attorney will then pay your insurance back in a process called subrogation. In most situations, your attorney will even be able to negotiate down how much is owed back to your insurance company for covering your medical bills giving you more money in your pocket.
If you have any questions about your car accident injury case and this process, please contact us today for a free consultation. We are paid out of the settlement and do not charge hourly so anyone can afford to hire a Seattle personal injury lawyer but no one can afford not to hire one.