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Phone: 206-727-4000
Davis Law Group, P.S.
Christopher Davis
Chris Davis, founder of the Davis Law Group, is a top-rated, award-winning attorney practicing law in Seattle.

Q
Why doesn't the person that caused my car accident (the at fault driver) or their insurance company have to pay my medical bills now? Why do I have to pay my own medical bills? Who has to pay my medical bills after an accident?

A

Actually, the other driver’s insurance company doesn’t have to pay you anything, now or later, unless you force them to pay by bringing a civil lawsuit against their insured.  However, if a valid claim exists a lawsuit is usually not necessary if you accept the carrier’s determination of what the claim is worth.  Thus, if you agree with the carrier on how much your case is worth then you’ll be able to settle the claim fairly quickly and with ease.  But the at-fault carrier will often intentionally undervalue the claim in an effort to save the money it has to pay out.

When it comes to your ongoing medical bills, the at-fault carrier typically will not want to pay for ongoing medical treatment unless it can settle the claim in full.  The carrier knows that if it agrees to ongoing payments to your healthcare providers, then the claim will likely drag on while the total value of the claim continues to rise (generally, the more treatment received the higher the value the claim).  The at-fault carrier usually wants to pay just one lump sum to settle the claim so it can be done with it, and usually the sooner the better.  By making a one-time lump sum payment, the claim is closed and the carrier’s exposure to paying out more later is terminated.  That is the goal of the at-fault carrier – to settle the claim quickly and efficiently so it can pay less money out and increase its profit.

When it comes to paying an accident victim’s medical bills, there is a specific type of auto coverage that will do this.  It is called “Personal Injury Protection” or PIP.  This type of coverage is “no-fault” meaning that you’re entitled to this coverage regardless of who was at fault for the accident.  PIP is mandatory coverage unless  you reject it in writing.  PIP pays for medical bills as they are incurred.  There are special laws in place that require the PIP carrier to pay the medical bills when due so they are not turned over to collection.  PIP also provides wage loss benefits, but this coverage is usually capped at $200/week and/or 85% of your regular wage.

If you do not have PIP or private health insurance coverage, then you have a legal responsibility to pay your healthcare provider or make some arrangement for payment.  Your healthcare provider does not care whether another person caused the accident or not, they simply want to get paid promptly.  At Davis Law Group, we can often work out an arrangement with the healthcare provider to wait for payment, but this occurs on a case-by-case basis.  It really is up to your healthcare provider on whether they want to wait or not.  The alternative is to file a lawsuit against you.  Knowing that this costs more money and delay, we can often use these facts to persuade the healthcare provider to avoid a lawsuit and wait for payment until the client’s claim concludes.  You may however have to pay a good interest rate on top of the medical bills you owe.

In all situations, do not ignore any collection letters from your healthcare provider.  You should contact them and let them know you have a personal injury claim and that it is only a matter of time before they get paid.  If you have hired Davis Law Group, then also inform us of any collection notices immediately so we can contact your healthcare provider on your behalf.

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