This is one of the most confusing areas of a car accident injury case for a lot of people. People generally believe that because the other person caused the car accident, their insurance will pay for the medical bills immediately. This is not completely accurate.
The defendant’s insurance company will not pay for your medical bills until you settle with them. For some people, this can be seen as a pressure to settle early because they may not believe that they can pay for medical treatment without the defendant’s insurance covering their bills. Because you want to wait until you are fully healed to settle your case, it can be very difficult to not try to settle at this point, but holdfast you have many options.
How then do you pay for your medical bills while you are waiting to settle your case? You have many options to pay for your medical bills while you wait to settle with the defendant’s insurance. You can pay for your medical bills through your own car insurance medical policy called personal injury protection. If you don’t have personal injury protection, you can pay for your medical bills with your medical insurance. If you don’t have medical insurance that covers certain types of treatment or enough medical insurance to cover your bills, you can sign a letter of guarantee with the treatment provider to pay them back out of the settlement.
PIP insurance pays for your medical bills while you wait to settle with the defendant. Most car insurance policies have $10,000 in PIP coverage, which is generally enough to cover a chiropractic treatment, massage therapy, and physical therapy. However, $10,000 may not be enough if you go to the hospital. In that situation, you can use your medical insurance to pay for anything that goes beyond your PIP, including your hospital bills. Some people elect for the high amount of PIP coverage which is $35,000.
PIP coverage is required in Washington State, however, you can waive it by signing it away, which some people do to save money. PIP coverage is not very expensive so you should include it with your policy. Additionally, if your insurance does not maintain a signed waiver of PIP, you may be entitled to the benefits.
Medical insurance generally does not cover car accident injury cases unless you don’t have PIP coverage or your PIP coverage is exhausted. At that point, your medical insurance will be primary and cover all visits according to your insurance coverage.
All medical bills paid by your medical insurance and PIP insurance must be paid back out of the settlement by a process called subrogation. However, subrogation allows for you to have the benefit of lower contract rates with hospital, medical doctors, etc., lowering the amount you have to pay back. In addition to this benefit of lower contracted rates, which are usually 1/4 of the actual bill paid, Washington State law requires that the insurance company pay their pro rata share of attorney’s fee, thus lowering the amount you owe them by at least 1/3 and sometimes more. For this reason, it is vital to have PIP and or medical insurance pay for your medical bills in a personal injury case and will end up putting more money in your pocket in the end.
If you do not have PIP coverage or medical insurance, or you exhaust all your benefits, you are not a loss. You can still avoid paying for medical bills out of pocket before settling your case by having your medical provider agree to be delay being paid right now and get paid out of the settlement down the road. Most chiropractors, physical therapists, and massage therapists will agree to this arrangement so long as you have a personal injury lawyer representing you. They will also require you and your attorney to sign a letter of guarantee that states you direct your attorney to pay them back out of the settlement. This is a huge benefit for people that do not have PIP or medical insurance that covers chiropractic treatment or massage.
In Washington State, there is a 3 year statute of limitations to settle your case. This is more than enough time for most injuries to heal. However, getting the proper treatment to get you back to normal can be a struggle if not properly addressed and consistently addressed.
If you have been injured in a car accident, please contact a Seattle personal injury lawyer today for a free consultation. We are paid out of the settlement so everyone can afford us but you can’t afford not to have us when settling against insurance companies. Most cases do not go to trial and can be settled within 2-3 months of being done with treatment. Call today!