How Do I Pay My Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
People injured in a car crash have several ways to pay medical bills after the accident. A combination of primary health and motor vehicle insurance policies should help. Virginia also offers optional, supplemental “Medical Payment Coverage” that pays medical bills regardless of fault. If someone else’s wrongdoing caused the accident, you might be able to get money from their insurance carrier to pay your medical bills, as well.
Virginia Laws and Medical Expenses
Motor vehicle insurance companies are governed by Title 38.2, Chapter 22 of the Virginia Code. Section 38.2-124 specifically requires these insurers to pay “medical expenses and loss of income benefits” arising from the “ownership, maintenance or use of any motor vehicle.” In addition to the named insured, the policy could also cover these people if they were injured in the accident:
- Occupants of the insured vehicle
- Spouses, even if not in the car
- Relatives residing in the same household
Even if spouses or children were standing beside or behind the car when injured, they could still be entitled to compensation for medical bills after an automobile accident.
Common Types of Medical Expenses
Upon payment of the premium, insurance companies must provide compensation for “all reasonable and necessary expenses,” including emergency medical services as defined in §32.1-11.1. Medical expenses may include compensation for:
- Physician’s Assistants
- Other medical expenses
Insurers must also pay for prosthetics or follow-up rehabilitation services, if necessary. If the injured victim passes away within three years of the accident, §38.3-2201 requires payment of funeral expenses up to $2,000.
Automobile Insurance Limits
When purchasing auto insurance, you can buy coverage for reasonable and necessary medical care resulting from accidental injuries. However, §46.2-472 sets forth certain limits to compensation:
- At least $20,000 for accidental damage or destruction to your property
- Up to $20,000 for damage or destruction to another’s property
- Up to $30,000 for bodily injury or death of one person
- Up to $60,000 for bodily injury or death to two or more people
These figures apply to a single accident. Every insurance policy can cover up to four vehicles and must pay up to the “maximum policy limit” available on each car covered. Medical bills for bodily injury, however, may cost more.
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists
Other than qualified “self-insured” motorists exempt from policy requirements under §46.2-368, motor vehicles are deemed “uninsured” if:
- The owner lacks any liability insurance for bodily injury and property damage
- The owner has insurance, but the insurance company denies coverage
- There is no bond, deposit, or security in lieu of insurance
A vehicle is “underinsured” when the total amount of bodily injury and property damage is more than the total amount of coverage available for payment to the injured party.
The at-fault party’s insurance company may call you quickly after an accident that wasn’t your fault to offer a settlement. They hope you’ll take their first offer, which is likely to be quite a bit lower than what you deserve. Consult an experienced attorney before taking a lump-sum settlement. Such a settlement usually requires the injured party to sign a release of all future liability against the at-fault party’s insurer for the accident in question. Such a release destroys your chances of recovering additional compensation for unforeseen medical bills.
Refusal to Pay Insurance Claims
Suppose an insurance company fails to pay a claim of $3,500 or less that exceeds the deductible. In that case, §8.01-66.1 allows a judge to find the refusal to be in “bad faith,” holding the company liable for double the amount due under the policy plus attorney’s fees.
Contact a Fairfax Attorney
Dealing with insurance companies can be confusing. Primary health and motor vehicle policies have pages of exceptions and limits to liability. Contact the Fairfax car accident attorneys of Whitestone Young, PC, at 703-591-0200 to pursue compensation for medical bills from an accident caused by someone else.