Car accidents are bad enough. But the medical bills incurred after a car accident can be devastating. Without question it is important that you seek medical care after an accident—especially if you are bringing a lawsuit to recover for your damages. However, because bills are due well before you get any recovery from a lawsuit, potential lawsuit, or from the insurance company, it can be difficult, if not next to impossible to pay for the medical care you need. Here are several options that might help ease the stress of paying for medical bills.
Georgia Personal Injury Law Basics.
Before we discuss payment options, it is important to understand a little about how personal injury (i.e., car accident) cases are evaluated in Georgia, where we practice. Having a basic understanding of what damages you can recover for, and how liability is determined, can help you evaluate your situation. (For an accurate and complete evaluation of your personal injury case, please consult with experienced personal injury counsel where you live.)
In personal injury cases, accident victims who have been injured by the negligence of another can seek to recover for a number of damages. Some of these may include:
- Emergency room expenses and ambulance or helicopter transportation
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future lost wages
- Income lost due to permanent disability
- Loss of consortium
- Emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
How much you can recover for your damages is limited by law. This is often referred to as “cap damages” or a “cap on damages.” Also, how much you can recover heavily depends on the facts of your individual case.
When it comes to assigning “fault” for a car accident, Georgia follows the “modified comparative negligence” approach. This means that an injured accident victim can recover for his/her damages if he or she is less than 50 percent at fault for the accident. This in turn means that a plaintiff’s recovery for his or her damages will be reduced by his/her percentage of fault for the accident. So, for example, if at the time of the accident you were speeding, but the other driver ran the red light, and the jury found that the other driver was 70% at fault for the accident, but you were 30% at fault because you were speeding, any money you recover will be reduced by 30%. On the other hand, if you are found to be 50% or more “at fault,” you will not recover anything.
With that in mind, we turn to medical payment options.
Some Payment Options to Consider.
If you are struggling to pay your medical bills after a car accident, consider these possible options:
- Health Insurance Coverage.
Private health care coverage either paid for directly or obtained as a benefit through your job, can help defray your medical costs. If considering this option, just be aware that many health insurance companies may balk at paying for medical costs incurred due to a car accident. While there is no legitimate reason for this, they may demand that you prove that you do not have coverage through your auto insurance (i.e., Med Pay) or that you have exhausted your auto insurance coverage before they will pay for your care.
- Auto Insurance Coverage.
By far the most common option when it comes to medical bills related to a car crash, is to have your bills paid through your automobile insurer. Look into whether your car insurance policy includes Medical Payment coverage (“Med Pay”).
- Litigation Funding Companies.
In cases of severe injury (like catastrophic injuries) or where the liability of the other party is clear, some companies will give you money in exchange for a lien on your [usually pending] lawsuit. Frequently called “cash advances,” the money is not a “loan” in the ordinary sense. Instead, the litigation funding company gets “repaid” (whatever amount/percentage interest is agreed to) out of the proceeds of your personal injury award.
While paying for medical care after an accident can be difficult and burdensome, there are financial options available to assist those who need it.
Personal Injury Attorneys in Cumming, Georgia.
The personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark Weinstein, P.C., are here to help you. We serve clients in Atlanta, and in a number of counties throughout Georgia, including: Clayton County, Cobb County, Dekalb County, Douglas County, Fulton County, and Paulding County, among others. To find out how we can help you, call us at: 770-888-7707. Or contact us here.