The number of motor vehicle accidents in California has been rising year by year. The state reported a total of 3,651 fatalities resulted from auto car accidents in California in 2018 alone. Besides these, countless other drivers were victims of severe injuries in car accidents.
As a resident of Sacramento, California, you should be aware of your legal rights to be able to recoup damages suffered.
If you’re involved in an auto accident, it’s likely you may have to undergo medical treatment to recover from injuries.
Depending on the severity of your injuries, your hospitalization costs, surgeries, doctor’s fees, medications, mobility equipment, and physical therapy can all add up to thousands of dollars. Besides these medical bills, you may incur additional costs for ongoing treatment afterward.
Paying everything out of pocket, especially when you’re injured, can be difficult. Are there other ways of paying your medical expenses to recover from injuries resulting from a car accident?
The answer is yes! Let’s find out how.
Before moving on to the medical coverage, it is important to understand California’s car insurance requirements and law. California law classifies itself as a fault auto accident state, which holds the at-fault party responsible for paying any damages caused in the accident, including medical coverage.
To be compensated for your injuries and other costs, there are 3 paths available to you as a victim:
- Claim the damages from your own auto insurance company if you purchased med pay.
- Claim the damages from the at-fault party’s auto insurance company.
- Take legal action against the at-fault driver and claim damages through a personal injury lawsuit.
California law requires motorists to carry at least $15,000 in liability coverage to pay for any damages caused to victims in an accident. While you can claim this coverage upon suffering injuries in an accident, coverage is subject to certain limits. You won’t be able to receive additional payments to cover the medical bills. Moreover, you cannot get further compensation for ongoing treatment beyond any settlement in a lawsuit.
There’s an important fact to understand. Claiming medical coverage doesn’t mean the at-fault party will pay for your medical bills during the time of your treatment.
Any compensation you receive from the other driver depends on the outcome of the case, which will take time.
Let’s see what other options you might have.
Med Pay in Auto Insurance Policy
Suppose you get injured in an accident, and it’s the other driver’s fault. Upon being admitted to the hospital and receiving treatments, you will, of course, receive medical bills. You can’t force the at-fault party to pay for your medical bills at this moment, in fact, not until after your case closes. Therefore, you are responsible for any medical bills until the case settles.
However, there’s one other way to cover the medical costs: medical payments coverage.
Within your auto insurance policy exists an option called ‘med pay.’ By purchasing this option, you don’t have to worry about paying for the substantial medical bills out of your pocket following an accident. This optional coverage will provide immediate medical reimbursement up to a set limit.
For instance, you purchased the med pay option in your auto insurance policy with a limit of $50,000. As you receive the medical bills, instead of waiting until your case closes, you can submit these bills to your auto insurance company. They will immediately pay on your behalf, regardless of who was at fault in the accident.
In this way, you won’t be stressed with having to pay for the medical expenses on your own in that critical situation.
Paying for Your Medical Bills After Accidents in California
For Sacramento, California, in particular, any medical bills incurred to treat injuries after an accident will have to be paid out of your pocket or through your med pay coverage in the auto insurance policy. Typically, the policy limits for med pay in California will usually be under $10,000. If you didn’t purchase med pay, you’d have to pay the medical costs on your own.
If you purchase insurance via California’s Health Insurance Program or a private insurance company, they will pay for your medical bills. They will require you to reimburse the spent amount out of your final settlement after the case hearing.
Health Insurance Coverage
You can also get paid for your medical bills through health insurance if you have one. But again, your health insurance company will demand reimbursements of these payments should you be able to receive compensation from the at-fault party upon final settlement.
Whether it’s your health insurance company or the auto insurer, you may still be able to save substantial amounts of money by hiring a specialized attorney. They might be able to negotiate these liens to bring them down by 30-40%.
The reason why you’re required to reimburse some amount to your insurer is that when you win the lawsuit, the defendant also pays for your medical care, part of which was already paid by your insurer.
So your insurer deserves to receive a portion of the proceeds. Keeping all the settlement amount for yourself means you collected the amount twice, which is referred to as ‘windfall.’ Therefore, you’re legally required to pay your insurance company.
However, real complications begin when deciding how much should be reimbursed to the insurance company.
Numerous books have been written, and seminars held to discuss the topic of reimbursements to insurance companies.
In Sacramento, California, if the settlement proceeds aren’t sufficient to fully compensate the victim, a proportionate share will have to be paid to the insurer.
For instance, your medical bills, suffering, and lost income add up to $100,000, and you only recovered $50,000. Your insurer will be entitled to receive 50 percent of the proceeds only, or $25,000 in this example.
However, you have a different answer in the case where your employer provided the health plan or if the health plan documents are written with specific language.
And if your employer funded the plan with their own money, the answer changes even further. To fully understand every outcome, you will need to consult a specialized law firm.
Having to pay the hefty medical bills yourself after facing a car accident can add to your financial strain. Although you might be able to recover the amounts later upon a final settlement, why stress yourself with substantial medical payments if your auto insurance can immediately pay the bills?
If you have auto insurance coverage but haven’t purchased the med pay option, contact your insurer to find out about this option. If you already have medical coverage, check with your insurer to discuss the policy limits and how to increase your coverage further if necessary.
If you’ve already suffered an accident, and sustained severe injuries, but have not taken legal action, you should speak with the law offices of Phoong Law Corp to learn about your legal options.
They offer a free consultation to evaluate your case and discuss whether filing a personal injury lawsuit would be advisable in your situation or not. Through a trial, you may be able to recover both past and future medical funds that would not normally be subject to policy limits.
There is no obligation for a free consultation and no fees unless you win your case.