Being in a car accident puts many people in a vulnerable position. After dealing with the initial shock of the event and coming to terms with the painful injuries you’ve sustained, you might get slapped by the prospect of having to pay a hefty sum for medical care. If your injuries have left you unable to work while you recover, you might be concerned about how you can afford your medical bills.
But who should pay your medical bills after a car accident in Texas? Are you responsible? We explain who pays your medical bills after an auto accident and the support you could be entitled to.
What Happens after a Car Accident?
Immediately after a car accident, you should seek medical treatment, even if you feel fine and whether or not you think you’re entitled or intend to file a personal injury claim. Many injuries sustained in car accidents present delayed symptoms. For example, if you have a concussion or whiplash, you might not know about it until days or even weeks after the incident.
If you do want to file a personal injury claim, it’s doubly important to seek treatment after the accident. If you don’t, it could impact the amount of compensation you receive — or even prevent you from successfully claiming entirely.
If you end up in a fender bender and are a little shook up but otherwise don’t have any injuries, you might be tempted to forget about the incident and move on with your life — especially if you’re worried about paying doctors fees.
Months later, though, you find out you need physiotherapy for a wrist injury sustained in the accident. At the time, adrenaline kicked in, and you might not have realized you got hurt. While you might know when the injury occurred, the other party’s insurance company will try to argue that your wrist injury happened after the accident — and they might have a case.
Texas Fault Law
In the US, states either assign fault, or they don’t. The majority of states — including Texas — are at-fault, or simple “fault” states. In these fault states, drivers must carry liability insurance. This means that if you are in a car accident in Texas, the person responsible for the accident is required to pay the other driver’s medical expenses. These expenses will be covered by the driver’s insurance. Under Texas insurance laws, a driver’s liability insurance will pay up to $30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident in medical expenses, but this figure can be higher if a driver has taken out additional insurance.
In a no-fault state, all drivers are required to carry personal injury protection insurance to cover their medical bills — they cannot claim from the other party’s insurance, regardless of liability.
What If You Need to Pay before Receiving Compensation?
If an accident wasn’t your fault and you face thousands of dollars worth of medical fees for ongoing treatment and rehabilitation, it might be a welcome relief to know that you don’t have to pay your medical bills. However, you’ll inevitably have short-term bills that you need to pay — such as doctor’s consultations, medication, and transportation. Claims take time to process, and if you’re out of work or providing for your family, you might not have the financial means to cover your expenses. What can you do?
What Are Your Options?
Health insurance: If you have health insurance, you may be able to use it to cover the immediate, upfront costs of your medical bills. If the car accident was not your fault, speak to your insurance provider — they can pay your medical bills and then recover the amount from the other driver’s insurance company (known as insurance subrogation).
Check your auto insurance policy: All auto insurance companies include personal injury protection (PIP) in their policies by default. Unless you explicitly stated you did not want PIP insurance in writing when taking out auto insurance, you likely have this insurance — possibly without realizing it. PIP insurance can be valuable even if you have health insurance, as a serious accident may not be covered under a traditional policy. PIP also covers a percentage of your lost income if you are unable to work.
File a personal injury claim: If you weren’t responsible for your car accident in Texas and you’ve taken the appropriate steps after the accident (such as seeking medical treatment and documenting how the accident happened and the injuries you sustained), you may be entitled to file a personal injury claim. A car accident lawyer in McAllen or San Antonio can issue a letter of protection, which postpones payment and guarantees it will be covered by a future settlement.
Who Pays Medical Bills after a Death?
If your loved one has died after a car accident, whether after being admitted to hospital or after a course of treatment, they may have hospital bills outstanding. But who should pay those medical bills? In this case, medical debt is paid by the estate — the total assets owned by your loved one at the time of their death.
Texas is also one of nine community property states, which means that if your loved one was married at the time of their debt, their spouse would typically be responsible for all debts, even if they didn’t incur those debts themselves.
However, if the car accident that led to their death was caused by the negligent or reckless actions of another, there’s a chance you may be entitled to file a wrongful death claim.
In a Texas wrongful death lawsuit, you can claim damages for incurred expenses — including medical bills.
Filing a Personal Injury Claim to Recover Medical Bills after Your Car Accident
A car accident can lead to extensive medical expenses, ranging from emergency room bills, surgery costs, and blood tests to fees for prescription medication, physical therapy, and, in some cases, prosthetics or expenses associated with managing a permanent disability.
If you want to recover all of your past and future medical expenses, it’s important to attend your appointments, follow your doctor’s instructions, and get an estimate of the long-term costs of your treatment.
As part of your claim, we can seek full reimbursement for your medical costs, along with damages to compensate you for your physical and emotional pain.
What Not to Do When Seeking Cover for Medical Bills after a Car Accident
If you’re entitled to file a personal injury claim, there are two things you shouldn’t do during the process, as they could have a huge impact on how much compensation you receive — or if you receive any at all.
Accept a Settlement
The responsible party’s insurance company may offer you a settlement. While it can be tempting to accept the offer — especially if you’re under pressure to pay your bills and you want your claim settled quickly — it’s rarely the best decision.
The initial car accident settlement offer will likely be much less than what you are entitled to. Insurers do this intentionally, as they are in the business of making money and want to pay out as little as possible, even if their client is grossly at fault. What typically happens is that you accept an offer, only to later find that it’s not enough to cover your future bills and expenses. This can put you in a tricky financial position — especially if you accept a claim before you know the full extent of your injuries — as you’ll have to pay all future bills out of pocket. A personal injury lawyer can fight your corner and get the most money from your car accident.
Speak to Insurers without Getting Advice
Shortly after your car accident, you’ll likely be approached by an insurance adjuster employed by the other party’s insurance company to get your version of events. While they may seem concerned about your wellbeing, remember that they are not here to help you. When they ask you what happened, they’ll be looking for any information they can use to justify offering you a reduced settlement. In the moment, it’s easy to say, “I didn’t see them,” “If I’d have just…”, and “I should have…”, but an insurance company may use these statements to attribute guilt on your part.
Always remember that you are under no obligation to speak to an adjuster. If you choose to, you should at least consult a McAllen or San Antonio car accident lawyer. Alternatively, your personal injury lawyer can handle all communication with insurance companies on your behalf.
If you were in a car accident caused by the negligent or reckless actions of another, you might be entitled to compensation. Our car accident injury lawyers can help you recover payment for your medical bills or postpone payment until you receive a settlement. To get a free case review and find out what you could be entitled to, contact our Texas personal injury lawyers today.