If you’ve been injured in a car wreck, you might be wondering who is going to pay for the medical bills you are receiving while you are waiting on your personal injury case to end. Many people in your situation don’t realize that the other driver’s insurance company isn’t going to pay your medical bills as soon as you receive them. Instead, if the other driver’s insurance pays for your medical bills at all, that will not happen until the conclusion of your injury case.
So, how do you make sure your medical bills get paid while your case is ongoing? The following list includes four ways to get your medical bills paid while your personal injury case is pending.
1. Your Own MedPay/PIP Plan
Many people are unaware that they have a medical payment (MedPay) or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) plan on their own auto insurance policy. Under Arkansas law, the default auto insurance policy is required to include a $5,000 MedPay policy unless the policyholder specifically declines that coverage in writing. Because this policy is so cheap, most people keep it.
MedPay plans cover up to $5,000 in medical bills (most of them also include coverage for a small amount of lost wages and a small funeral benefit). If you provide your car insurance information to your medical providers (such as your hospital or doctor’s office), most of them will bill MedPay directly.
The reason it’s a good idea to use MedPay has to do with a concept called “subrogation.” Subrogation is simply the right of an insurance company to get re-paid at the end of an injury case. So, for example, if your auto policy pays your medical bills under a MedPay plan, your auto insurance company will try to get that money back from you when your injury case is over, even though you paid your premiums to have the MedPay policy in the first place. Basically, it’s double dipping from the insurance company. They take your premiums, and then when your case is over, they take back the money they paid out under the policy.
Based on Arkansas law, it is actually somewhat difficult for your car insurance company to get subrogation for the payments made under your MedPay policy. A good Arkansas personal injury lawyer will know exactly what arguments to make to get your auto insurance company to stop their subrogation attempt and can usually get your auto insurance company to waive subrogation completely.
2. Your Own Health Insurance
Your own health insurance is a good option when you either don’t have MedPay, or you have MedPay but you have more than $5,000 in medical bills associated with your injury.
Just like MedPay insurers, health insurers will try to double-dip by claiming subrogation when your case is over. However, a good Arkansas personal injury lawyer can sometimes get the health insurance company to lower or waive their subrogation. Generally speaking, this is less difficult to do with individual health insurance plans, more difficult with employer-provided plans (unless you work for a state, county, or city government), even more difficult with Medicaid, and next-to-impossible with Medicare. In order to negotiate this, though, you (or your lawyer) must have a thorough understanding of the law in this area so you’ll have plenty of leverage in the negotiations.
So, what’s the advantage to using health insurance if they have a subrogation right? Well, besides the ability to negotiate subrogation in some cases, there is another advantage. If a hospital bills you $100, your health insurance company will usually pay a lower amount. Let’s say the health insurance company only pays $75. When the case is over, you will only owe the health insurance company $75 (at most; again, this amount can often be negotiated).
3. Lien or Letter of Protection
For those who don’t have MedPay and who don’t have health insurance, a lien or letter of protection might be the best way to keep your medical providers from taking action to collect against you while your injury case is pending. A lien is simply a document the provider files with the court that gives them first priority on the check you receive from the other driver’s auto insurance company. The provider will send a copy of the lien to everyone involved in the case (your lawyer, the other driver’s insurance company, etc.), and then at the end of the case, the other driver’s insurance company will pay the provider first, and then pay you.
A letter of protection is a letter that your lawyer sends to the provider. In that letter, the lawyer personally promises to pay your medical bills from whatever money you receive from the other driver’s insurance company. A well-drafted letter of protection will include protections for you as well. For example, the letter of protection should cover what happens in the situation where you don’t get enough money from the other driver’s insurance company to pay all of your medical bills.
4. Cash Pay
There are some providers who won’t provide services based on a lien or letter of protection. Therefore, the next option is to pay cash to your provider. Of course, most people who can’t afford health insurance can’t afford to pay medical bills up front. If that’s the situation you are in, then the best thing to do is to try to work out a payment plan with the provider until your case is over.
Remember that every injury case is different and the payment option that works best for someone else’s injury case might not be the one that works the best in yours. At Taylor & Taylor Law Firm, our Arkansas personal injury lawyers evaluate the circumstances of each case to help determine the best payment options for our clients and their medical bills.
If you’ve been injured in a car wreck and you’d like help recovering from the at-fault driver and help in determining who should be responsible for your medical bills, you should have your case evaluated by a personal injury attorney who is experienced at handling personal injury claims in Arkansas. Our attorneys represent clients from all across Arkansas.
Visit our law firm website at TaylorLawFirm.com.