If you were injured in a car accident, you may be wondering “how will I pay my medical bills?” The cost of an emergency room visit alone can be thousands of dollars. And, if you admitted to a hospital or require other testing or therapy, the price of your medical treatment can be staggering. Fortunately, insurance may pay for some or all of your medical care if you are injured in a car accident.
The following article provides a general overview of how hospital bills are paid after an automobile accident. To speak with an experienced car accident lawyer in Pennsylvania about your specific circumstances, call the Wieand Law Firm at 1 (215) 666-7777.
Person Injury Protection (PIP) Medical Benefits
Pennsylvania law requires every PA automobile insurance policy to provide coverage for medical benefits in the amount of $5,000. This is the minimum amount of “first party” medical benefits required by law. However, insureds can opt to purchase a higher limit for greater protection.
If you are injured in a car accident, Pennsylvania law has set forth an order in which PIP medical benefits are paid.
- First, if you are a named insured on an automobile insurance policy your own insurance will pay for accident related medical treatment.
- Second, if you are covered under a policy of automobile insurance (such as a resident relative of someone with insurance) that policy will make payment.
- Third, if you are an occupant in a motor vehicle and not covered under a policy insurance, the policy on the vehicle you are in is responsible for PIP medical benefits.
- Last, if you are a pedestrian injured in an auto accident, the policy on any vehicle involved is responsible for payment.
There are harsh penalties for Pennsylvania motorists who own a registered motor vehicle but do not carry financial responsibility (the minimum insurance required under Pennsylvania law). For example, if you crash a vehicle you own, and it is uninsured, you will not be eligible for PIP benefits. Or, if you are injured in a bus accident and own a registered vehicle that is uninsured (even though it is not involved in the accident) you will be ineligible for PIP benefits. Therefore, it is important to keep your vehicles insured for your own protection.
What Happens if PIP Benefits Become Exhausted?
All too frequently, PIP benefits are used up before you’re medical treatment is finished. So, what happens then?
In the event that your PIP benefits become exhausted, you can then look to your health insurance carrier for payment of medical bills. As a practical tip, you should provide your doctor with all your health insurance information at the beginning of your treatment. This way, if PIP medical benefits are exhausted (or denied for some other reason) your medical bills should be submitted to your (secondary) health insurance. It is important to give your medical providers all of your health insurance information because medical bills that are not timely submitted to health insurance they risk being rejected – and you could be left holding the bill.
One downside of submitting medical bills to your health insurance is that in some cases (but not all) there is a right of subrogation against your personal injury claim. This means that your health insurer can put a lien against money recover from your personal injury claim.
If you do not have secondary health insurance, then you will be personally responsible for medical bills incurred as a result of your accident. If someone else was at fault for the accident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the negligent person or business and your outstanding medical bills will become part of your claim.
What if You’re Injured in an Automobile Accident while at Work?
In Pennsylvania, if you are injured in a car accident while in the course of your employment (and eligible for workers compensation) your workers’ compensation insurance would be the primary insurance provider and ultimately responsible for payment of your medical bills. In many cases, your PIP insurance will make initial medical payments and then seek reimbursement from the Workers Compensation carrier.
*Disclaimer: This website is for information purposes. It is not legal advice and should not be used as legal advice. It may not be current or contain errors. You should always speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer if you have specific legal questions.