If you’ve ever gotten into a car accident and been injured, you know that covering your medical expenses just adds more anxiety and hardship to physical injury. If you’re not flush with lots of extra spending cash or the holder of a gold-plated health insurance policy, medical bills adding up to thousands of dollars and perhaps continuing for an ongoing period can raise the question, Who’s going to pay for all this? If you’ve been injured, there are a number of answers to this question.
Since car accidents are a major cause of injury, we’ll discuss them first. The question of who covers your medical expenses depends on the nature of the accident and the state in which the accident occurred. In states with no-fault auto insurance laws, drivers must purchase a special kind of insurance called Personal Injury Protection (PIP) along with their policies. PIP pays for the medical expenses of the policy-holder up to a certain amount, regardless of who was at fault in the accident.
In states with at-fault auto insurance, the outcome of who pays does depend on who was at fault, and in some states, to what degree each party is at fault. This process of determining fault through the tort system of liability can end up costing the litigants and the court system itself a lot of time and money, so many states now favor the no-fault system. But in any state, settling out-of-court is often preferable to both parties, and in such a case, a lump sum for medical expenses is calculated in as part of the damages to be paid by the at-fault party.
After the auto insurance companies have paid out their maximum amounts to cover medical expenses, some states allow personal health insurance to kick in. Whether or not this happens depends not only on the state in question, but your medical insurance policy. Additionally, new provisions under the Affordable Care Act make it possible for health care providers to charge the insurance companies in some cases.
If you’ve slipped and fallen on someone else’s property, you’re usually responsible for covering your medical expenses unless you file a lawsuit or settle on the grounds that the owner was at fault. However, if the property owner has med-pay coverage, your medical expenses could be paid through that policy regardless of who was at fault.
If you’ve been injured at work, then the insurer of your workers’ compensation program will pay all your medical expenses. Some states also require workers’ compensation to cover your transportation costs to and from medical appointments.
If you weren’t at fault in an accident and you expect the at-fault party to pay for your medical expenses, they might not be able to pay immediately. In the meantime, you’ll need to pay your medical expenses, and this is where a letter of protection comes in.