Who Pays for Medical Bills in Motorcycle Accidents if I Am Hit by a Car?
Medical Bills After a Motorcycle Accident
Medical bills are among the largest parts of your motorcycle accident damages. These accidents, on average, will cause more serious injuries than car crashes. Any time an accident victim must go to the hospital after an accident, they see large bills. When they suffer severe injuries, that bill can multiply many times. When the bills mount, people worry about their finances and who must pay all of these charges. If one thing is certain, medical care is not cheap. Read on to learn more about how to get your medical expenses covered, from the motorcycle injury attorneys at Abels & Annes, P.C.
The Legal Obligation to Pay Bills Depends on Fault
The short answer is that payment of your medical bills depends on who was responsible for your motorcycle accident. If a car hits your motorcycle, presumably, you can hold the driver of that vehicle responsible. However, that is not always the case. Even if another driver struck you, you must still prove that the driver did something wrong. The legal test is whether they were negligent.
How to Prove that Someone Else Was at Fault
There are four parts to the negligence test. The burden of proof is on you to prove every one of these elements.
Here is what you need to show to receive financial compensation:
Duty of care - You must prove that someone else owed a duty to you to act reasonably. In general, any driver on the road owes a duty of care to others around them at the time.
Breach of duty - This is perhaps the most important part of the negligence test because it involves showing what the other driver did and why it fell below the expected level of conduct. A driver breaches their duty of care when they act in a way that is considered unreasonable for the average driver. Examples of unreasonable conduct include speeding, distracted driving, and illegal turns.
Injury - If you suffered any losses, whether physical or financial harm, you sustained an injury for legal purposes.
Causation - The driver must have been the proximate cause of your injuries, meaning that you would not have suffered injuries but for their actions behind the wheel.
You Are Responsible Before You Reach a Settlement
As your injuries are undergoing treatment, and before you receive any compensation, you and your health insurance company will be responsible for paying for your medical care and costs. These costs can be draining and stressful for injured motorcyclists and their families when the prospect of financial compensation is uncertain.
Even though your health insurance company pays for your costs now, it does not mean that they do not expect to get reimbursement in the future. If your claim or lawsuit is successful, you will receive compensation for medical expenses. To the extent that your health insurance company has paid for your medical costs to date, they will have the legal right to reimbursement for what they have spent.
Health Insurance Companies Can Get Compensation for What They Pay
Health insurance companies can put a lien on your settlement or jury award. They have the legal right to receive repayment for what they spent on your injuries thus far. The same is true whether a private health insurance company or the federal government paid the costs through Medicaid or Medicare.
Insurance companies will include this requirement as a term in your insurance policy. Otherwise, you get a windfall if you receive compensation for medical bills that someone else paid.
There are some protections that personal injury victims will have from subrogation liens. Many states will apply some form of the "made whole doctrine." This doctrine enforces insurance companies' right to receive payment but makes it subject to principles of equity. For example, if there was a limited pool from which the injured plaintiff can recover, courts may not allow the insurance companies to get paid first.
However, insurance contracts can write out the doctrine. A newer Illinois law reduces the amount that the health insurance company can recover from their lien by the amount of fault that the plaintiff bears in an accident. These are complex legal issues that a lawyer should address.
Doctors and Hospitals Can Also Get Reimbursed
Hospitals are often very aggressive about getting paid. They do not want to provide hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical expenses and end up holding the bag. They will often require patients to sign a lien letter that lets them receive their cut first from your settlement.
In addition, doctors also have the right to be reimbursed for unpaid medical bills before you receive your money. While waiting for your settlement or jury award, you may need to negotiate with physicians over medical bills. Some doctors will allow you to pay the bill when you receive a settlement or work out a payment plan with you.
An attorney can also help you communicate with the doctor and negotiate the bill while your case is pending. If the medical service does not fall under health insurance coverage, your lawyer can convince the doctor to grant you a self-paying discount, as some medical providers often do.
Your Personal Injury Protection Can Pay for Your Medical Bills
Some drivers have personal injury protection on their car insurance policies. This coverage helps you pay medical bills in any motorcycle accident. Your auto insurance policy may be the one that pays for your medical bills. If your medical bills exceed the amount of your coverage, then your health insurance may pick up the bills as the secondary payer.
Your motorcycle insurance also has the right to receive reimbursement for the amounts it paid for your medical care if you can prove that the car that hit you was at fault for the accident. If you do not prove fault, your personal injury protection must still pay your bills to your coverage limits.
Make Sure to Get Enough Money to Pay Your Costs
You always need to negotiate an adequate settlement that pays you fully for your injuries. Too many claimants take whatever is put in front of them by the insurance company. Then, they find that they have the money to pay for their medical costs but little else.
When injured motorcyclists cannot work, they will need money for far more than their medical costs. They will also need to receive payment for their lost wages because that is how they will keep a roof over their head. A motorcycle accident settlement is how someone can take care of their family if they cannot work.
You will also need to recover money for your future medical costs. Your health insurance company will not have to pay these expenses when someone else is responsible for your accident. If your injuries stretch far into the future, you may have trouble putting a value on your claim. Many people struggle to figure out what they may need ten years into the future and how much it may cost.
Understand How Medical Costs May Increase in the Future
One major variable affecting your motorcycle accident claim is how costs will behave in the future. Medical cost inflation is often hard to gauge, and it is something that you must consider when you expect to incur high costs in the future.
If you expect to need significant medical care in the future, you should study how much things may cost, especially because medical care can get more expensive faster than other things. An experienced attorney will work with expert witnesses to value the costs of your care.
Understand Your Own Personal Medical Prognosis
In addition, you will need to know much care you may need in the future. In many cases, injured motorcyclists may wait to file a claim until they reach the point of maximum medical improvement. At that point, they have recovered to the fullest extent possible.
However, it may take some time to reach that point when you are dealing with:
If you file your claim too quickly, you may not have the true medical picture. You may not know how serious your injuries are and can settle based on unrealistic assumptions about your health.
Your Health Insurance Can Still Cover Your Bills
Even if the accident was your fault, you are not left to pay all your medical bills on your own. You can still rely on your health insurance company to pay your medical bills. However, you must go through the entire process of dealing with an insurance company, and it is not easy.
Your health insurance company may try to deny you coverage to save money. No matter the type of insurance company, they all operate similarly. Your health insurance company can also leave you with bills because they have refused to cover treatment.
In addition, if the accident is your fault, you may be responsible for co-payments for medical care and prescriptions. These add up quickly, especially when you have no money coming in because of your injury. The good news is that federal law now prevents health insurance companies from putting lifetime limits on coverage.
Given the severity of motorcycle accident injuries, claimants often reach these limits. An insurance company cannot drop your coverage because you cost them a lot of money, nor can they deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition.
It Is Critical to Prove Fault in an Accident
Nevertheless, you can see the importance of proving that the driver was responsible for the accident. There is a stark difference in financial outcomes when someone else must pay for your damages versus when you may have some cost obligations. Even your share of medical bills can be bankrupting when there is nobody else to contribute to the costs.
Hiring an attorney gives you a stronger voice when determining and claiming liability. Without someone to speak up for you, an insurance company may find it easier to blame the motorcycle rider. They already have a negative perception of motorcyclists, and they know the costs they face if they concede that their driver was responsible. Even if they manage to partially blame you for the accident, they can still reduce the amount of money they pay you.
Fight for Top Dollar for Your Motorcycle Accident Injuries
As you can see, there are reasons why you need to maximize your financial compensation after you suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident. Bikers often suffer severe injuries in crashes that may impact them for the rest of their lives.
You only have one chance to negotiate a settlement or be compensated for your motorcycle accident injuries. If you do not secure enough money now, you will not get it in the future because you will have to sign a release when you agree to a settlement.
The insurance company wants you to be in the dark about how much your claim is worth. They want you to jump at the first possible offer and sign your name on the dotted line because it saves them money. The speed bump in place that keeps the insurance company from rolling right over you is an experienced lawyer.
Your motorcycle accident attorney will study your claim and determine the right dollar value you need to seek in settlement negotiations. Your lawyer will look to both the present and the future to see how much money you may need. Then, they will negotiate on your behalf or file a lawsuit to see to it that you get that money.
Knowing who covers medical bills from a motorcycle crash can confound anyone, but the right attorney can cut through the confusion and recover the compensation you need to pay your bills.
David Abels has carved a niche for himself in the personal injury law sector, dedicating a substantial part of his career since 1997 to representing victims of various accidents. With a law practice that spans over two decades, his expertise has been consistently recognized within the legal community.