For Washington state residents who have been injured in a car accident, getting the proper medical treatment as quickly as possible should be the first thing on the mind of accident victims.
Not only can appropriate medical care help accident victims recover from their injuries more quickly and effectively, but establishing documented medical history following an accident is one of the most important steps victims can take to protect their legal rights and improve their chances of a successful bodily injury claim against the at-fault driver and their insurance company.
Then comes the million dollar question: who pays for my medical care after an accident? Many accident victims are surprised to learn that although the at-fault driver's insurance company is technically legally responsible for all damages a victim has suffered, the insurance company won't necessarily pay for the victim's medical bills while they go through treatment.
Third-party insurance bodily injury claims are usually resolved in one lump sum, typically once the injured victim has completed their medical treatment and been released by their treating physician and/or other medical providers. That means auto accident victims in Washington state are left to cover medical expenses in the interim until they are in a position to negotiate a fair settlement with the insurance company, either on their own or with the assistance of a Seattle personal injury lawyer.
How Do I Pay For Care After An Accident In Seattle?
Accident victims in Seattle and across the state of Washington may have a few options when it comes to paying for their medical treatment after an accident: Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage through their own auto insurance policy, employer-sponsored or private health insurance, and allowing the medical provider to hold a lien against the victim's personal injury claim.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Is 'No-Fault' Coverage
In Washington, PIP coverage typically comes in limits between $10,000 and $35,000 and is no-fault coverage, meaning that accident victims can use PIP coverage even if they were at fault for the collision. Due to the exorbitant costs of medical care in the United States, PIP coverage may not last very long depending upon the nature and extent of a person's injuries.
Private Health Insurance
Once PIP has been exhausted, injured victims should be able to use their own health insurance coverage to pay for any additional medical treatment. If the victim does not have health insurance coverage, they will either need to pay for their medical costs out of pocket or find a medical provider in the Seattle area who is willing to make other arrangements.
Medical Liens In Lieu Of Payment
Many providers understand, especially in situations involving legal representation, that victims may take time to recover damages and will hold or otherwise delay the billing process to work with you on providing care while your case proceeds, in what is known as a medical lien.
This process helps you to get the medical treatment you need for your injuries without breaking the bank, while also giving the medical provider a legal avenue for ensuring they are repaid for the services they provided once your bodily injury claim has been successfully resolved.
Subrogation After You Receive A Settlement
Once a settlement is agreed upon, the funds from the settlement are used to pay for any and all outstanding medical bills, as well as pay back costs your own insurance company has covered up to that point, in a process known as subrogation.
Accident victims are often surprised that Washington state's subrogation laws require the victim to pay back their medical providers after recovering a settlement (or jury verdict if the case goes to trial and is decided by a jury).
But given that the claim is made in part based on the medical costs incurred by the victim, it only makes sense that the insurance providers who covered those costs initially should be repaid for providing that coverage.
More Resources for Accident Victims
If you have any additional questions about insurance, car accidents, or any other personal injury-related issues, check out our selection of free Washington Accident Books or search for more answers in our FAQ's.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident you can call 206-727-4000 or use the chat or contact options on the screen to request a free case evaluation with our team of award-winning Washington state car accident attorneys.