Medical bills are often the most expensive part of an auto accident. A serious injury could force you to pay hospital fees and treatment costs for the rest of your life. The lifetime costs of a catastrophic or disabling injury could reach the millions. The average expense of a paralyzing spinal cord injury at the age of 25, for example, ranges from $1.5 million to over $4.7 million. Even a minor personal injury could run you into the thousands in medical costs. Find out who may be responsible for paying your medical bills after an accident in West Virginia.
Will My Car Insurance Pay My Medical Bills?
West Virginia is a fault state, which means it uses the traditional system when determining who will pay for damages after a car accident. Under the state’s fault law, the person or party that caused the crash will absorb financial responsibility. In the beginning, your health insurance company may pay for your medical bills while you receive emergency care. This prevents you from having to pay out of pocket. If you do not have insurance, you may go into debt with the hospital. A hospital cannot lawfully refuse you care if you do not have insurance or cannot afford the bills.
Upon identifying the at-fault party for your auto accident, file an injury claim with that party’s auto insurance provider. Every driver in West Virginia must carry at least $20,000 in bodily injury coverage per person and $40,000 per accident. This insurance should cover the costs of your medical care up to the policy’s maximum. You may need to hire a personal injury lawyer in West Virginia to negotiate with the insurance company for fair recovery. If the at-fault driver does not have enough insurance to cover the full costs of your medical expenses, your insurance may provide the rest.
If you caused the car accident or the at-fault driver does not have insurance, file a claim to damages with your own insurance provider instead. A few different types of car insurance will cover your medical bills in an at-fault crash, but all go beyond West Virginia’s bare minimum insurance requirements. You must have purchased additional collision, comprehensive and/or uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance for coverage for an at-fault crash. If you do not have the right type of coverage and caused your own injuries, you may have to pay for your medical bills out of pocket.
Do I Have to Pay Medical Bills From My Settlement?
If someone else did cause your car accident, that party should be legally responsible for repaying the costs of your doctor’s visits, travel expenses, x-rays, treatments, medications, nursing care and medical devices. The at-fault party will be accountable for your past and future accident-related medical bills. Most car accident claims achieve settlements that end in checks for victims without having to go to court. If the at-fault party’s insurer refuses to offer a fair amount to cover your medical costs, however, you may need to take the claim to court.
Either way, once you receive a check from the at-fault party for your auto accident damages, you may need to spend part of it repaying your medical debts. An insurance company, judge or jury may have included an amount in your award to cover all past and future medical care. If you have gone into debt with a hospital or insurance company during the claims process, these parties will receive a chunk of your settlement first. Then, you will need to pay your West Virginia accident attorney his or her service fees and court costs out of what is left. An attorney can help you divide your settlement among the correct parties to get you out of debt before you take home the rest of the award. An attorney can also help you find medical financing if you struggle to pay your hospital bills during the claims process.