Who pays the medical bills after an auto accident

Who pays the medical bills after an auto accident?

If you were injured in a car accident in Illinois, you may wonder who pays the medical bills after an auto accident? Continue reading to find Auto Accident ILout who will pay your medical bills or contact me for a free consultation at 847-305-4105.

Warning

There are several ways to pay for medical bills after an auto accident. But before we discuss that, I want to advise you of a common misperception people have. The auto insurance for the driver of the vehicle that hit you will NOT pay your medical bills until your case settles.

As such, there is no sense in telling your medical providers to bill that driver’s auto insurance. That is a sure way to have your medical bills go to collections. It’s very unfair. You were not at fault for the accident. Still, you are the one responsible to confirm who pays your medical bills after an auto accident. As such, we recommend using one of the following means to get those bills paid.

MedPay Insurance

What is medpay? Medpay or medical payments coverage, is a clause within many auto insurance policies. It is optional coverage in Illinois so not everyone has it. You will usually contract with your auto insurance company for them to pay the first $2,500, $5,000 or $10,000 of your medical bills, regardless of fault.

I’ve read a lot online that people don’t recommend purchasing medpay. I disagree completely. For the few dollars a month medpay costs, it is a valuable thing to have if you get in an accident. Many people cannot afford to pay their deductible or co-pays which are so high these days. Medpay can cover that for you. If you don’t have health insurance at all, medpay is an option for getting your medical bills paid, again, regardless of fault. Finally, unlike health insurance which might pay 80% of a medical bill leaving you with the balance, medpay will pay 100% of the bill.

Health Insurance

I always tell my clients when they get any kind of medical treatment, tell your medical provider to bill your health insurance (but for bills paid by medpay).  There are many advantages to using your health insurance to pay your medical bills, the main one being is that your health insurance company such as Aetna or Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois, will likely have contracted rates with your medical provider. As such, Aetna will only have to pay their contracted rate for a bill rather than the whole rate.

So, for example, if you get a bill for $10,000 for an emergency room visit. Aetna will pay $5,000 of that bill and the rest will be written off by the medical provider.

You’re not completely off the hook, however. You may still have copays or a deductible that needs to be paid. Also, your health insurance company expects to be reimbursed for the money they paid on your behalf out of the proceeds of your settlement/recovery.

Still, using your health insurance to pay your medical bills after an accident is the best way to keep your medical costs down and get your bills paid.

Liens

Liens provide an interesting wrinkle to the issue of who pays the medical bills after an auto accident. A lien in this context basically means that when you recover from the injuries suffered in your accident, you are obligated by law to pay back your lien holders. These could include the ambulance company, emergency room, your physician etc.

Hospitals often file liens shortly after treating a patient so that they are assured of getting reimbursed for their services. Once they get paid by the health insurance company they will release their lien. Other providers may voluntarily enter into a lien agreement with you such as a chiropractor or physical therapist. In exchange for you and your attorney signing the lien, they agree to provide you treatment and hold off on billing you for the services until your case is resolved.

If you want more information on Illinois medical liens, check out the Illinois healthcare lien act.

Cash

Another option for paying your medical bills is to pay them up front with cash. This is seldom used of course, but it is an option to ensure your bills get paid.

Third party and uninsured motorist insurance

As stated above, the insurance company for the driver who hit you will not pay your medical bills until you settle or otherwise resolve your case. However, when you settle, one of the aspects of the settlement will be reimbursement for your medical bills.

So, for example, let’s say you are involved in a minor fender bender but you do go to the hospital. You have no other treatment and your emergency room bill is $3,000.

You enter into a settlement with the auto insurance company of $10,000. That settlement includes reimbursement for your $3,000 in medical bills. Meaning, that after you pay your medical providers and/or health insurance company back, you will be left with $7,000 (assuming you do not have to pay attorneys’ fees).

The same thing applies to uninsured motorist coverage. If you are hit by an uninsured driver, you will file a claim against your own auto insurance policy. The same analysis will then apply. If you recover $10,000 from your insurance company, you will have to pay back the $3,000 in medical bills from your recovery.

If you are involved in a car accident in Illinois and you want to know who pays the medical bills after an auto accident, contact Barry Zlotowicz at 847-305-4105 for a free consultation.

Personal injury law firm – arbitration clauses

Personal injury law firm discusses arbitration of auto insurance claims

My name is Barry Zlotowicz and I am the owner of a personal injury law firm headquartered in Glenview, Illinois. I’ve been licensed to Personal injury law firmpractice since 1993. During that time, I have been involved in many auto insurance claims where a client sought to recover from her own auto insurance policy for her damages. If you want a consultation about pursing an uninsured motorist claim against your own auto insurance policy, call me today at 847-305-4105.

Uninsured Motorist Coverage

I have detailed at length in this blog about the need to have adequate amounts of uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. If you get hit by an uninsured driver, you will have to seek compensation from your own insurance policy. In Illinois, everyone has a minimum of $25,000 in UM coverage if they have auto insurance.

What’s the Catch?

Once you file a claim against your own insurance policy, you and your insurance company become adverse. Meaning, that your personal injury law firm is trying to recover the maximum amount from your auto insurance and your insurance company wants to pay out as little as possible. That’s correct, you can and will get low-balled by your own insurance company.

Mandatory Arbitration Clauses

The first trick the insurance company already used to reduce your recovery against your own policy is that they inserted a mandatory arbitration clause in your auto insurance policy. You already bargained away your right to a jury trial for your damages. Don’t feel bad. We all agree to these clauses. They are inescapable if you want auto insurance. Unfortunately, juries, especially like those in Cook County, Illinois, can award large verdicts in cases involving severe injuries. In contrast, arbitrators are much more conservative when doling out compensation.

How to spot an arbitration clause

A typical um arbitration clause will look just like the clause below, which I copied from a former client’s policy. The name of the company will not be disclosed:

Arbitration. “Any dispute with respect to whether the insured is legally entitled to recover damages or the amount of damages recoverable by the insured shall be submitted for arbitration to the American Arbitration Association and shall be subject to its rules governing the conduct of arbitration hearings…”

How do you select an arbitrator? Usually set forth in the policy as well. The same policy as above stated that:

“Upon the insured requesting arbitration, each party to the dispute shall select an arbitrator and the 2 arbitrators so named shall select a third arbitrator.”

The arbitrator’s decision could be binding (meaning your stuck with it whatever it is) depending on the language of the policy. It might also provide that cases under a certain value are limited to arbitration but that cases in excess of that value might have the right to a bench (though probably not jury) trial. Meaning, a judge might hear your case, but a jury will not. And as stated above, a jury verdict is what you want, especially in Chicago.

Benefits of an arbitration clause

It wouldn’t be fair to completely diminish the value of an arbitration clause. There are benefits of an arbitration clause to you and your personal injury law firm. For example, it can take eighteen or more months to get to trial. However, the arbitration process moves much quicker. As such, you can obtain a resolution of your case and get access to your money quicker.

Also, the costs of arbitration can be much less than going to trial. That’s a benefit to you because accident victims represented by a personal injury law firm will have to pay the firm back for the expenses it fronted out of the proceeds of the recovery. The more costs, the less you recover.

Finally, arbitration is a less formal process. If you are intimidated by sitting in a courtroom and testifying to a jury, arbitration might be a better forum for you to have your grievance heard.

If you are injured in an accident and want to talk to a personal injury law firm, feel free to contact us for a free consultation at 847-305-4105. We can help you decipher the arbitration clause in your auto insurance policy and decide on the best course you can take to recover against it.

Recorded Statement – A Risky Gamble

Tens of thousands of auto accident claims are filed every day with insurance companies. Shortly after each of those claims, the accident Auto Accident Recorded Statementvictim will get a call from an insurance adjuster looking for a recorded statement about the accident. If you are involved in an accident and you would like a free consultation to discuss whether you should give the recorded statement, call our office at 312-848-9783.

What is a Recorded Statement?

A recorded statement is a tool used by insurance companies like Allstate or State Farm to figure out what happened in an auto or other accident. An insurance adjuster, who is an Allstate or State Farm employee, will call you over the phone and ask you questions about the accident. The questions will seem simple and you may feel compelled to answer as you are attempting to get the insurance company to pay for your damages and/or injuries. Be Careful!

Do I Have to Give a Recorded Statement?

The simple answer is no. You do not have to give a recorded statement to the insurance company for the vehicle who caused your accident. In fact, we advise (almost) all our clients not to give recorded statements. Why? The recorded statement is a trick used by insurance companies to get you on the record.

It seems simple. At first, the insurance adjuster is nice and sincere in his or her efforts to help you. However, what they are trying to do is pin you down to a story. Once you have committed, the insurance adjuster (or their defense attorneys) will use that information later to poke holes in your case.

For example, if you stated during a recorded statement that you were positive you driving 35 miles per hour at the time of the accident, you are now locked into that speed. If you change your story at all during your deposition (sworn statement before trial) or during cross-examination (while at trial), the insurance company will capitalize on the change in your testimony to discredit you.

Or, perhaps during the recorded statement you forgot to tell the adjuster that your shoulder was in pain following the accident. A year later when you attempt to obtain compensation for your shoulder pain, rest assured the adjuster or defense attorney will point out that you did not complain of shoulder pain after the accident. To learn more about documenting your injuries, check out this article.

In most cases, the insurance adjuster can make a determination of “liability” or responsibility for the accident from the police report, from speaking to their insured or by talking to witnesses. Often the facts help dictate fault as well. For example, if you were driving straight and the defendant took a left-hand turn in front of you, in most (though not all) cases, they will be responsible for failing to yield the right of way. And of course, there is little opportunity to deny responsibility if you were rear-ended in the accident.

When Should You Give a Recorded Statement?

If you file a claim with your own insurance company after the accident, you have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company in investigating the accident. In that situation, you need to give a recorded statement.

However, beware of your own insurance company as well. If the defendant who hit you was uninsured or underinsured, meaning he or she had a small insurance policy, you may have to go after your own insurance company for compensation through your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. In that situation, your insurance company will go from being helpful to being your opponent in a split second. Then, they will be the ones who use your recorded statement against you.

What to say in a Recorded Statement

If you do give a recorded statement, here are a few tips for what to say or not to say:

  • Don’t be too precise: Instead of saying you were driving 35 miles per hour, give an estimate. “I was driving around 35” or “I was driving between 30 and 35 miles per hour.”
  • Always be honest: if you lie, the insurance company will find out and use it against you. This will jeopardize your credibility with the insurance company or the jury.
  • Limit the scope of the recorded statement: Agree to talk about the facts of the accident but not your injuries.
  • Do NOT guess. If you don’t know an answer, say so.
  • Do NOT sign a medical release or any other document. You will provide them your medical records when you see fit.
  • Keep your answers brief. Do not expound on anything. Simply answer their questions as briefly as you can and then stop talking. The more you talk the more they have to use against you.

Conclusion

If you are contacted by an insurance company after an accident, we recommend talking to an attorney prior to giving a recorded statement. For a free consultation, contact us today at 312-848-9783.