Money is tight these days, and that can leave some personal injury victims in a quandary immediately after being injured in a personal injury accident. On the one hand, the victim may lack the financial resources to go to the emergency room or doctor’s office for an evaluation and follow-up treatment. On the other hand, failing to seek medical treatment after a personal injury accident can be viewed as a negligent act that would decrease the victim’s compensation award.
The initial responsibility for paying for medical treatment following a personal injury accident will often fall to the victim. There are several methods by which this obligation can be met, even if the victim does not have much disposable cash.
Insurance Benefits or Workers’ Compensation Benefits
Americans are now required to carry health insurance, and these benefits can help injury victims meet their medical bills in the immediate aftermath of a personal injury incident. If a victim is
injured while he or she is at work or on the job, he or she may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits that can also help the victim pay for his or her medical expenses.
Options for Those Without Insurance
If you do not have health insurance and you were not injured while at work, you may find it difficult to pay for your medical bills and expenses following your injury accident. You still have options to pay for your bills and treatment costs, however, even if you are not able to borrow money from friends or family members. Speak with the hospital or medical care provider about:
- Payment plans: Some medical providers will agree to allow you to make small monthly payments toward your bills and expenses, especially if they know you and/or know you are filing a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation.
- Discounts or write-offs: some hospitals have income-sensitive programs whereby they will voluntarily agree to discount their bills. A hospital that offers a “discount” is essentially agreeing to accept less than the full amount of the bill as payment in full. For patients who have little to no income and whose situation is not expected to improve in the near future, the hospital may agree to write off the entire bill as a charitable act.
- Forbearance/deferment: The hospital or medical care provider may be willing to give you time to file a lawsuit and try to obtain compensation before commencing collection activity on your account. Note that if the hospital or medical provider agrees to do so, it will most often charge you interest on your bill until it is paid in full. This means that when you ask for compensation for your medical expenses in your personal injury lawsuit you would need to be sure to include the interest that has accumulated on your account.
A hospital or medical provider generally will not seek payment for your expenses from a third party unless that third party has some existing legal obligation to pay your expenses. This means that you cannot get the hospital or medical provider to send your bill to the person who caused your injury or his or her insurance company.
An attorney may be able to assist you in negotiating some arrangement with the hospital or medical provider if you are having difficulty doing so yourself. Sometimes a call from a California personal injury attorney informing the hospital that you are filing a personal injury lawsuit and expect to be compensated within a certain amount of time can encourage the hospital to delay collection activities.