If you were involved in a car accident, you may be wondering how you will pay for medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses during the claims and/or litigation process, and rightfully so. This can be particularly concerning for those who do not carry health insurance, or are unable to work following an auto wreck. Fortunately, there are options that can allow an injured victim to seek medical treatment for injuries related to the accident, without having to pay their provider while the personal injury claim is pending. In some cases, the victim may also be able to obtain immediate reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses as well.
If you do not carry health insurance, and were injured in an automobile collision, your medical provider may accept what is referred to as a ‘letter of protection' (LOP). A LOP is a legal document, generally issued by your attorney to your doctor, stating that the cost of services rendered for treatment related to the accident, will be paid out of personal injury proceeds awarded to the victim. In exchange, the doctor or other treatment provider agrees to defer payment of medical expenses that become due while your claim is pending. It is important to secure legal representation following an accident, because most medical providers will only accept LOPs sent from an attorney.
If you have health insurance and sustained injury in a car crash, your health insurance provider may initially provide payment for services rendered. However, depending on who was at fault in the accident, and the state in which your accident occurred, health insurance providers will generally retain the statutory right to obtain reimbursement from settlement proceeds for medical expenses paid that were related to the accident.
Medical liens provide the lien holder with a security interest, or legal right to recover payment for medical costs associated with injuries caused due to an accident. A medical lien can arise through contractual agreement between parties, such as with a letter of protection, however, they also can be created by statute, in states that allow a health insurance provider a right of reimbursement. Often time, personal injury attorneys will negotiate with the lien holder to reduce the amount owed on a medical lien. It is important to keep this in mind when selecting a car accident attorney, because reducing the lien amount can increase the victim's ultimate financial recovery.
Apart from medical bills, the victim of an auto accident may have several other expenses that they must bear the cost of during the claims process. Examples include prescription co-pays, over the counter medical items, transportation to medical providers, and rental car expenses, to name a few. Depending on the auto insurance coverage held by the parties involved, as well as the circumstances of the collision, the victim may be able to obtain immediate compensation for reasonable and necessary out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the victim as a result of the accident. It is important to save any receipts, or otherwise document any out-of-pocket expenses that you have paid.
Reimbursement for mileage is a common out-of-pocket expense that can often be recovered while a personal injury action is pending. Your attorney can provide you with a mileage claim form to keep track of transportation costs, such as travel to a medical provider; your attorney's office; or the store /pharmacy for supplies/medication needed as a result of injury caused in an accident.
While the law does not require that a party obtain legal representation following an auto accident, there are many benefits to doing so. A skilled car accident attorney can defer medical bills through a letter of protection, negotiate a reduction in medical liens, and advise you as to what types of out-of-pocket expenses that you can recover during the claims process.