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HOW TO GET YOUR MEDICAL BILLS PAID AFTER A FLORIDA CAR ACCIDENT
Car accidents happen every day in Florida, on highways, city streets and back roads. It only takes one negligent driver to cause a crash that disrupts people’s lives – for example, a driver who was speeding, texting or driving drunk. If you were involved in an accident, you may have suffered injuries that require medical treatment.
Medical expenses for treating injuries can add up quickly. These expenses may include ambulance services, emergency medical care, diagnostic tests, surgery, hospitalization, medication, physical therapy, nursing services and other home health care, as well as multiple follow-up visits with doctors.
The cost of medical treatment after a car accident can be staggering. Accident victims all have the same question – how am I going to pay these bills?
Here are some of the options that may be available to you.
Florida is a “no-fault” car insurance state. This means that if you are injured in a car accident, you need to first file a claim for compensation with your own insurance company first. Every driver in the state is required to carry at least $10,000 of personal injury protection (PIP) on their policy. PIP generally covers 80% of medical costs.
It is often advisable to purchase more coverage, as medical expenses can easily exceed that amount if you suffer serious injuries.
If you were a passenger in the accident, you can file a claim under your own PIP insurance if you have it, or the PIP coverage of the driver of the car you were in if you don’t have a car. If you were a pedestrian, you can again file a claim under your own PIP insurance if you have it, or under the PIP coverage of the car that hit you if you don’t.
The mandatory insurance you are required to carry won’t cover 100% of your medical expenses. Medical payments coverage, or MedPay, is additional, optional insurance coverage you can purchase for your policy to supplement PIP. MedPay will the cover 20% of medical expenses not covered by PIP, as well as additional expenses up to the amount of the coverage you purchase.
As with PIP, it does not matter who was at fault for the accident. There is no deductible that applies, but MedPay can be used to pay for the deductibles of other types of insurance, such as PIP. It can also be used to pay for injuries suffered by passengers or pedestrians who were hurt in a crash.
Once you have exhausted your PIP and any MedPay insurance benefits, you can then submit claims to your own health insurance company. You are responsible for any deductibles or co-pays that apply to your coverage. And your insurance company will only pay up to the limits on your policy.
Your expenses are generally covered if you are treated by a doctor or hospital that is in the health insurance plan’s network. If you are treated by a doctor or hospital that is out of network, you are responsible for paying charges above your plan’s approved amount for specific services.
Medicare and Medicaid
If you receive health insurance through the federal government, you can submit claims for treatment after a car accident. Medicare is health insurance for adults over the age of 65. Medicaid is insurance for people with a low income.
Medicare will generally cover medically necessary treatment that is covered under Part A (hospital services) and Part B (doctor appointments, ambulance services, etc.). Medicaid will pay for treatment at the contracted rate, but you should not be held responsible for the rest. Both programs may seek reimbursement if you receive a settlement or are awarded compensation.
If you were hurt in a car accident that happened while you were doing your job, you are eligible to apply for workers’ compensation benefits. If your claim is approved, these benefits will cover all medical bills related to your injuries. This includes deductibles and co-pays, as well as transportation to and from doctor appointments.
Florida law requires you to first file a claim for damages with your own insurance company following a car accident. But you may be able to take legal action against a driver who caused your accident if you meet the state’s “injury threshold.” An injury needs to involve a significant permanent loss of a bodily function, permanent injury, significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement or death.
If your serious injury meets the threshold, you can seek financial compensation for current and future medical expenses, as well as lost wages and non-economic damages such as pain and suffering.
Do you need a lawyer?
It is in your best interests to get legal advice following a car accident in Florida. An experienced attorney can review the details of your car accident and go over your options.
The insurance companies are always concerned about profits. They may take steps to pay you less than you are owed, such as questioning the seriousness of injuries or arguing that they were pre-existing. They may also try to assign some of the blame for the accident on you. Under Florida’s pure comparative negligence system, this could reduce the amount of compensation you are able to recover. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 damages but found to be 20% at fault, you could only recover $80,000.
Yet another common tactic used by insurance companies is to offer you a settlement that falls far short of covering all the damages you suffered in the accident. If you have injuries that take time to become obvious, you may be on the hook for additional medical expenses to treat those injuries. Once you’ve taken the insurance company’s money, that’s it; you generally can’t go back for more.
A car accident attorney can deal with the insurance company on your behalf and help you understand your legal rights and options at each stage of the process. If you go it alone, you may not get the full compensation you need for your medical expenses and other costs associated with the accident. Getting legal advice is the safest option to put yourself in the best position moving forward.
How an attorney can help you get your medical bills paid
First, an attorney can investigate your accident. This involves gathering evidence, reviewing accident reports and medical records and interviewing witnesses. If needed, an accident reconstruction expert or other specialist can be consulted. Your lawyer can then build a strong case that demonstrates the other driver’s negligence caused the crash that left you hurt.
Then, we can deal with the insurance company directly on your behalf. Many times, we can negotiate a settlement that provides compensation for your current and future medical expenses as well as other damages that you suffered. If the insurance company won’t agree to a fair settlement, a lawyer can take your case to trial.
If you were hurt in a car accident in Florida, it’s important to get legal advice as soon as possible. The statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit after a crash is four years after the date of the accident. But over time, valuable evidence can be lost or destroyed and the memories of witnesses can fade.
That’s why it’s so critical that you contact Farrow & Pulice, P.A. as soon as possible after an accident. We can explain your legal options and help you navigate the process of getting your medical bills paid. We offer a free consultation and work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you owe us nothing unless and until we recover compensation for you. Don’t go it alone after a car crash; contact us to speak with an experienced car accident attorney about your case.