Personal Injury Attorney Rochester, Minnesota
After a serious accident, you often face substantial medical bills–and many of those bills are ongoing. As an accident victim, you may have a number of worries about those injuries. Who will pay for your medical bills? Do you have to pay for your medical care yourself? Understanding who pays the medical bills after a serious accident due to someone else’s negligence can help you better prepare for how to handle your finances moving forward.
Who Bears Ultimately Responsibility for Your Medical Bills?
Ultimately, after a serious accident, you bear ultimate responsibility for your medical bills, regardless of who caused your accident. If a minor child suffers serious injuries, the parents typically bear responsibility for paying for their injuries. As an adult, however, you and your insurance company bear the final responsibility for paying those bills. In many cases, you may sign a contract with the hospital or other medical care provider, agreeing to pay any costs associated with your treatment.
Even if another party or insurance company takes on the cost of your medical care, you may still face out of pocket costs. Often, when you reach a settlement with an insurance company after your accident, they will pay out everything they intend to pay. They have no further burden after the settlement is decided. You may then use that settlement to cover past medical bills or set it aside to cover the costs of future medical bills.
If you caused your accident, you and your insurance company may bear 100% of the burden of paying for your medical bills. While health insurance can help alleviate some of the burden of medical care following an accident, ultimately, you bear personal responsibility for those bills–and the hospital will collect from you, not another party.
Decreasing the Cost of Your Medical Care
While ultimately, you bear responsibility for covering your own medical bills, there are several things you can do to reduce your financial burden–especially if you weren’t at fault for your accident.
File with your medical insurance. If you suffer injuries in an accident, provide proof of medical insurance to the hospital that treats you immediately after the accident and any doctor or physical therapist who helps provide care during your recovery. Your medical insurance will often cover a percentage of your medical bills. If someone else’s negligence caused your injuries, your insurance company may cover a portion of the bills, then go after the responsible party for the amount they cover. Your insurance company may also provide coverage for any medical bills in excess of the damages you receive for your injuries.
Use your personal injury protection insurance. Minnesota is a no-fault state: that is, in Minnesota, regardless of who caused an auto accident, you should be able to file with your PIP insurance to receive coverage for a percentage of your medical bills following that auto accident. If your injuries occurred during an auto accident, you may use your PIP insurance to cover the first portion of your medical costs, up to the amount of your coverage. This includes auto accidents when you were a pedestrian or rode a bicycle at the time of the accident.
File a claim with the responsible party. Someone else caused your accident and, therefore, your injuries: doesn’t that mean they should have to pay any medical bills from the accident? While the responsible party bears some liability to you, typically, that party or their insurance company will not pay your medical bills directly. You can, however, file a claim with that party or their insurance company. Typically, your personal injury claim will include:
- Current medical expenses that have accumulated since your accident
- Anticipated future medical expenses incurred because of your accident
- The cost to adapt your home or vehicle to deal with your new medical needs: wheelchair ramps, special controls in your vehicle, or wider doorways in your home, for example.
In addition to these medical factors, your claim may also include property damage, pain and suffering, lost wages, and lost earning potential if you are unable to return to work following your injury.
What If I Accept a Settlement That Doesn’t Cover My Medical Bills?
In some cases, the insurance company may encourage you to accept an early settlement as soon as possible after your accident. That settlement may not cover the full cost of your medical expenses, especially if you don’t yet know the full extent of your injuries. Accepting that offer typically lets the other party off the hook, though you may be able to work with a lawyer to increase your settlement if you have discovered new injuries or other concerns after the accident.
In addition, most insurance policies have clear limits. Even if you receive a settlement in the full amount the policy provides, in some cases, it may not be enough to cover your medical expenses. This is especially true in the event of lifelong injuries, including paralysis, amputation, and traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately, if you exceed the limits of the insurance policy, you may have little recourse for increasing the damages you receive after an accident.
Once you have accepted a settlement or been awarded damages, especially in the full amount of the insurance policy, future medical expenses are your responsibility. This includes potential medical expenses related to the accident as well as any future injuries or problems. You must, therefore, budget carefully after you receive your settlement, especially if you feel that it will not adequately cover your medical expenses. Your personal health insurance may help cover some of the expenses associated with your injuries, decreasing your overall financial burden.
A Personal Injury Attorney Can Help
Did you suffer a serious injury due to someone else’s negligence? We can help. While we cannot change your medical bills, we can help you seek compensation that will help you cover them. Contact us today to set up a free consultation to better understand the compensation you deserve following an accident.