Getting the medical attention you need to recover from a car crash injury is an immediate concern. Unfortunately, many people do not seek the treatment they need right away because they are unsure of how they will pay the medical bills. Submitting a personal injury claim or taking the case to trial can result in a payout that will cover all of the bills, but not necessarily before they are due. Here is some advice from a personal injury attorney in Houston, TX:
Can You Defer Medical Bills While a Personal Injury Case Is in Progress?
If you have been injured in a car crash, the first order of business should be going to the ER. Don’t worry about how the medical bills will get paid. As you will soon learn, you have many options that can help you cover all the treatment you need. In fact, going to the ER immediately creates a record of your injuries that can actually help you when you build your case against the liable party.
Many providers allow patients to defer their medical bills while the personal injury case is pending. Deciding whether or not to allow the deferral is up to the provider. If you would like to exercise this option, the first step is to talk to your provider about it.
What Happens If Your Provider Agrees to Defer the Medical Bills?
When you make a deferral arrangement with your provider, you will be asked to sign a letter of protection. This letter ensures that your provider will be paid for his or her services, regardless of the outcome of your case. If you receive compensation from your accident claim or from a lawsuit, all or part of your payout will go to cover the bills. If your claim is unsuccessful, you are still responsible for the cost of your treatments.
Talk to a Houston personal injury attorney About Your Bills
A letter of protection is a legally binding agreement, and you will want to talk to a personal injury attorney before you sign it. He or she can help you understand the terms of the letter and if signing it is in your best interest. Many times, deferring medical bills is a good way to get the treatment you need without paying out of pocket. However, your lawyer might advise some other options.
What If the Insurance Company Makes You a Fast Offer?
Insurance companies know that injured people might not have cash on hand to pay their medical bills out of pocket. Even if you are worried about your expenses, you should not let anyone take advantage of your stress.
If the insurance company makes you an offer soon after your accident, you should proceed with caution. It might be an attempt to get you to sign off on an amount that is too low, thereby giving up your right to reopen the case in the future. Your Houston personal injury attorney can help you review any offers you receive to make sure they are appropriate. If he or she determines that your damages might qualify you for a higher payout, you will be advised to hold out and negotiate for more money.
Other Options for Getting Your Medical Bills Paid Before Your Settlement
Many people have been able to get urgent medical treatments by making a deferral arrangement with their provider, however, putting the bills off might not even be necessary. Here are some other ways to handle the expenses:
Check If Your Insurance Will Cover the Bills
If you have health insurance, chances are it will cover your medical expenses up to the limit on your policy. You will be responsible for the deductibles, but the bulk of the bills will be transferred away from you. In the case of pending personal injury lawsuits, most health insurance providers require reimbursement for the medical bills if the legal matters resolve in the plaintiff’s favor.
If you have a government plan, such as Medicare or Medicaid, you should contact them regarding the bills. Like private health insurance companies, they might expect to be reimbursed out of your payout if you secure a settlement from the liable party.
Use Your PIP
While not everyone has it, personal injury protection is actually designed to cover medical expenses that result from an accident. If you have PIP, it will pay your bills up to the maximum amount allowed by your policy. If you exceed the limit, your health insurance might be able to pay the rest.
Use Secondary Insurance
Some people have multiple health insurance plans, and you should check your policies to understand which one is your primary coverage. Usually, the primary coverage pays until it runs out, after which the secondary coverage kicks in. For example, many union policies act as secondary coverage.
Sometimes, insurance providers require a letter of exhaustion before they start paying. The exhaustion letter simply states that your coverage from PIP or another source ran out.
Settle With the Provider
If all else fails and you must pay the bills out of pocket, many providers will allow you to settle for less than the total amount you owe. If you are seeking to settle, you can usually expect to get a self-pay discount of 15%-50%.
While this method does require you to front the costs of your treatment, it can help you keep the bills from going to collections as you wait for your case to resolve. If you do get a settlement offer after paying your medical expenses yourself, you will be able to keep all of the money instead of using it to reimburse your health insurance or applying it to a deferred bill.
What Not to Do When You Owe Medical Bills
If you are waiting for a payout from a personal injury case, the worst thing to do is to let the bills go to collections. If you have already defaulted on the debt, contact a personal injury attorney in Houston as soon as you can. Unpaid medical bills can ruin your credit, and they are one of the leading causes of bankruptcy. Your lawyer can advise you on how to handle your medical expenses while best avoiding financial hardship.
How Can You Afford the Attorney?
Most people who are concerned about paying their medical expenses out of pocket are not in a position to pay legal fees upfront, either. The best law firms understand that personal injury clients typically face unexpected medical expenses and lost wages when time off work is necessary.
To avoid putting further financial strain on the people they represent, personal injury lawyers will usually work on a contingency fee basis. The contingency fee model allows clients to pay the legal fees as a percentage of the payout for the accident after the claim or case has been successful.
Find an experienced Personal Injury Attorney in Houston, TX
When you work with a personal injury attorney, you can expect more than just representation when you go up against the negligent party and their insurance company. Your lawyer can advise you on all aspects of handing the accident, from dealing with the medical bills to gathering evidence to build your case. To speak the best attorneys in Houston, TX, contact Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, today.