Who's Going to Pay?

So you have been in an accident and it was someone else’s fault.  You are injured and required not only a hospital stay, but months of physical therapy following a serious surgery.  Who is going to pay for all these bills, and who is going to pay you for all that you have been through?  The answer isn’t always quite as simple as one might think. 

Obviously the driver of a car who causes an accident is generally liable for the damages that he causes.  If the driver has insurance, it will in all likelihood be the insurance company writing the checks. So what happens in the mean time before the case can be resolved?  What if the driver has no insurance?  What if more than one person is responsible?  These questions are very important and only an experienced personal injury attorney will recognize all potential defendants, and (hopefully) each defendant’s insurance company. 

The Accident Claims Process

So you were in an accident and are racking up all these medical charges?  You have been correctly advised by your attorney that the claims process could take months or longer, depending on your injuries.  Well who is going to pay in the mean time, while the bills are racking up, and maybe, you can’t even work to provide for your family?  The answer, as is too often the case in the legal world, is “it varies.” 

Here are some possibilities:

The Defendant's (At-Fault Driver) Insurance Company

Sometimes, after an accident, an insurance company will actually take responsibility for its insured.  It doesn’t happen in the majority of cases, but it does happen, sometimes.  This is only one reason that it is important for a potential defendant to be notified early on in the process. 

The At-Fault Driver's Employer

If the at-fault party is working at the time, somtimes the employer or company he works for will begin paying interim costs such as medical bills.  It also may be the insurance company of the employer but you get the idea.

Your Insurance Company

It may seem strange at first, but in some instances, like for example if the other driver doesn’t have any insurance, or doesn’t have enough insurance, your insurance company will begin to make payments on the bills.

Worker's Comp Carrier

If you are employed at the time you are injured, it is important to that you inform your employer as they will often supply medical treatment or take care of expenses for medical treatment under the employer’s worker’s compensation plan.

Your Health Insurance Company

In some instances, if you are at a hospital and inform them that you were in a car accident, your own health care will initially decline coverage by claiming it is someone else’s fault.  While this may or may not be true, if the cause of the accident is in dispute (and heck, if it wasn’t wouldn’t the case be over by now?) oftentimes your health insurance will cover your medical expenses until the claim is resolved.

There are certainly other sources of medical care and other pre-resolution financial resources.   These are merely some of the more common sources of payment for medical expenses while a claim is pending. For a more comprehensive look at financial options for  those who have an injury claim pending, please click hereFinancial Help For Accident Victims - Disability - Injured - How Do I Manage Financially After An Accident. 

Lastly, sometimes the health care bills will not be paid until the claim is finally resolved.  Even if this is the case, a competent accident attorney may be able to get the hospital or other care provider to wait to collect on their bills merely by assuring them they will be taken care of when the claim settles. 

What if the Driver Has No Insurance?

Even if the driver has no insurance, or not enough to cover your injuries in an accident, there still may be ways to get your bills paid.  First, if the driver is uninsured or underinsured, your automobile policy likely will have at least some coverage called uninsured or underinsured coverage for just such an occurrence.  Even if you do not have care insurance or such insurance is not enough to cover your medical bills, your health insurance will.  This is yet another reason that it is so important for all Americans to have health insurance but even if it is a result of a car accident, if insurance is not available to cover it, your health insurance should.  Should you not have either type of insurance, meidcare or Medicaid may be available to you. 

To review eligibility guidelines, please click here. As a last resort, should a diver have insufficient insurance but have significant personal assets or resources, sometimes money can be obtained directly form the at fault party.  This is rare though as individuals of means often are well-insured. 

So, Ultimately, Who Pays?

Getting back to the original question, who pays if you are involved in an accident?  The answer is, depends on the accident.  The important thing to understand and take from this article is the importance of having an effective injury attorney on your side.  Due to the vast number of potential defendants and sources of compensation, only an experienced accident litigator is going to ensure that all avenues of obtaining funds are exhausted.  AS food for thought though, here is a list of potential defendants and sources of compensation:

  • The At-Fault Driver
  • One Or More Additional Drivers
  • Owner Of The Car
  • The Parent Or Guardian Of The Driver
  • The Parent Of The Owner Of The Car
  • The Employer Of The Driver
  • The Company That Owns The Car
  • The Manufacturer Of The Car
  • A Body Shop That Did Repairs On The Car
  • A Service Department That Worked On The Vehicle
  • The Tire Company
  • The Manufacturer Of A Child Safety Seat
  • The Owner Or Municipality Responsible For Repair Of The Road Driving Surface
  • The Insurance Company Of Any Of The Above Individuals Or Entities

This is only an example of the parties that can be potentially responsible if you or a family member is injured in an accident.  Please remember, only an attorney experienced in car accident cases will recognize all of the potential defendants, sources of money, and theories of liability.

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