Who Pays Medical Bills After an Accident?
Jul 10, 2019
After an automobile accident, medical bills can be more than you can afford to pay. Medical treatment may be required to mend broken bones, restore your mobility, and even save your life. Your medical bills may be covered, but how so depends on your insurance coverage and where you live.
California has established clear rules for who covers accident-related medical costs. “At-fault” insurance laws require the individual or entity that caused the accident to pay all costs, whether through intentional action or negligence. The facts are gathered during an investigation by law enforcement and/or an insurance company. But it’s not that easy. Although negligence is a major consideration, California follows a comparative fault approach. More than one person can be at fault for an accident. Therefore, a percentage of responsibility may fall in a particular party’s hands, making them liable for a portion of the total medical costs.
How Do I Proceed?Contact the police and emergency medical services as soon as you become the victim of an accident. If you’re not at-fault, you won’t be responsible for paying medical bills. Be sure to contact your automobile and health insurance providers. Contacting the other driver’s insurance company will get the claims process and investigation started. Throughout this process, you want to keep a solid record of every expense. Document every medical treatment, diagnosis, repair, and travel or legal expense for investigators to see. It will help reach a settlement, much of which will go towards your accident-related bills. An at-fault driver’s insurance company will pay the settlement, but if they’re uninsured or underinsured, they’re personally responsible for paying your medical bills. Being paid directly can be a challenge. If you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, it can offer protection. But if you are the at-fault driver, you or your insurance company must compensate the victim for property damage or medical expenses; just how much you owe depends on:
- How much liability coverage you have (the more it is, the greater your insurance payments will be)
- Your level of fault, as determined by the insurance company’s investigation