If you are accidentally injured in the state of California because someone else was negligent, which person is responsible to pay the medical bills?
What you’re about to read is a review of the options – and the barriers you might encounter – attempting to pay for your medical costs if you have been injured unexpectedly by someone else’s negligence in southern California.
If you were hurt in a traffic accident, you are the person who will be responsible for paying your medical bills as they become due.
If you were taken to an ER by an ambulance, paying for the ambulance, the ER bill, the physician’s fee, diagnostic testing, and any procedures that you may have undergone will be your own responsibility.
WHAT WILL (AND WON’T) HEALTH INSURANCE PAY?
If you have health insurance, your health insurance provider will pay a part of those expenses, but you are still responsible for the deductible and/or co-payments.
Even if a reckless driver was obviously the party responsible for your personal injury or injuries, that party is not obligated to cover your medical costs as they are incurred.
With the help of a personal injury attorney, you might settle out-of-court with someone who injures you in an accident, but California law does not require that person to reimburse you unless you bring a personal injury lawsuit and that lawsuit prevails.
As you know, legal procedures and negotiations can take months. Healthcare providers, however, expect payments promptly.
HOW SHOULD YOU DEAL WITH AN AUTO INSURANCE COMPANY?
You must not succumb to the temptation to accept a quick and insufficient insurance settlement just to pay your pending medical bills.
The auto insurance company will know that your medical expenses are mounting, that you are feeling some pressure and stress, and that you would like nothing more than a quick resolution of the entire matter.
But if you settle too early, you will also waive your right to take any further legal action or receive any further compensation. Your personal injury claim is probably worth much more than the insurance company’s first settlement offer.
Instead, let your personal injury lawyer handle every aspect of the case and do the negotiating on your behalf. Personal injury lawyers in this state routinely negotiate with auto insurance companies to resolve personal injury claims on behalf of their clients.
IS CALIFORNIA A “FAULT” OR “NO-FAULT” STATE? WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Auto insurance coverage for medical expenses hinges on whether you drive in a “fault” state or in a “no-fault” state. With regard to automobile insurance, California is a “fault” state.
So even if you are bringing a legal action and seeking compensation after a traffic accident, you are still the person responsible for paying your medical bills when those bills are due.
Some southern California motorists may have medical payment insurance (“MedPay”) that provides some helpful partial coverage.
WHAT IS MEDPAY?
MedPay is an additional auto insurance option which covers “reasonable” medical expenses for the insured driver and/or his or her passengers incurred as the result of a traffic crash.
MedPay coverage is typically limited to $10,000 or even less, but it’s still good to have. It also covers you when you ride in another vehicle as a passenger or when you drive a rental, and it covers you if you are injured by a motorist while you are a bicyclist or a pedestrian.
Before an injured victim of negligence brings any legal action, it is also important to understand that if you succeed with a personal injury claim, you will likely be obligated to reimburse your health insurance provider after you have received your verdict or settlement.
WHAT ABOUT PROPERTY LIABILITY CLAIMS IN CALIFORNIA?
Of course, not every accident is a traffic accident. What if you are injured on someone else’s private property in southern California – at a store, a hotel, a restaurant, an apartment building, or a private home – because of a property owner’s negligence?
If you are injured in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall incident on private property, it is imperative to be seen by a healthcare provider immediately.
Injury victims in premises liability cases must pay their own medical expenses except when the owner of the premises has property insurance that includes MedPay. MedPay can cover an injury victim’s medical costs up to the limit of the policy.
If you are injured in southern California because a retailer or another private property owner acted negligently, seek medical care at once, and then speak as quickly as you can to a personal injury lawyer who handles premises liability claims.
WHAT IF YOU ARE INJURED AT WORK?
If you are injured at your workplace, you are probably eligible for workers’ compensation payments that will cover your medical costs and part of your lost wages.
Under workers’ comp, you do not personally pay any deductibles or medical bills arising from your job-related injury.
Worker’s compensation is an insurance system that shields employers from personal injury lawsuits based on negligence. Employers buy workers’ comp coverage, and injured employees do not have to take legal action or prove that an employer was negligent.
However, when a workplace injury has been caused by any party except your colleague or employer, you should speak at once with a personal injury lawyer about filing a “third-party” personal injury claim.
The law takes time. As the legal process plays out, if your medical expenses are piling up, explain to your healthcare provider that you are pursuing a settlement.
Some doctors and even some hospitals may allow you to pay when you receive your settlement.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO REMEMBER?
If you are injured due to another person’s carelessness, get treatment or a medical examination immediately, and then speak promptly with an experienced Pasadena personal injury attorney.
The initial legal consultation with an injury lawyer is free. Your lawyer will explain your rights and options, and if legal action is appropriate, your attorney will take that action and seek justice on your behalf.
You will pay no attorney’s fee until you receive the verdict or the settlement that you need.
If you are injured by another person’s negligence in California, the law is on your side, and compensation is your right.
Get medical attention first, and then seek legal advice and representation at once. That’s also your right. And if you’ve been seriously injured, your future could depend on it.