Who Pays Medical Bills After a Car Accident?

One of the most urgent issues after a car accident is how does the injured victim pay for medical treatment? While an at-fault party in a fault based jurisdiction will ultimately be responsible, initially injured victims have to use her health insurance to cover treatment. Any unreimbursed portion that health insurance does not cover, can be paid by the medical payments under her automobile insurance policy or out of pocket to be reimbursed later. In fault-based jurisdictions like Ohio, once paid, both the health and automobile insurance will look to the at fault party’s automobile insurance policy for reimbursement. If she does not have health insurance, she will have to either self-pay or use a protection letter which if available, promises reimbursement out of the settlement.

Understanding Medical Expenses in Car Accident Cases

Medical expenses are those expenses incurred for the medical care and treatment due to injuries received in a car accident. These expenses are called economic damages and can include: 

  • Emergency Room Visits;
  • Hospitalizations;
  • Surgery;
  • Diagnostic Tests and Imaging;
  • Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy;
  • Prescriptions.

It is important to obtain a record of all medical treatment and bills. They will be forwarded to the insurance company to support economic losses. 

The Importance of Seeking Prompt Medical Attention

Seeking prompt medical attention after a car accident is essential despite the fact it can result in large medical bills. Initially, make sure you get the medical attention you need for your own well being. Secondly, getting medical attention is confirmation of your injuries related to the personal injury case and the basis for liability against the at-fault party. Their insurance company will request these documents to assist in its evaluation of your case. Thirdly, your doctor will be able to determine the best course of medical treatment which will assist you in a more quick recovery. It is important to establish a “medical trail” connecting your injuries to the accident. Medical treatment is the best verification if you later need to make a claim with the insurance company. For both health reasons and to substantiate your case, seeking prompt and complete medical treatment is one of the most important aspects of every personal injury case. 

Determining Liability for Medical Expenses

Liability for the payment of medical expenses in a car accident is generally the responsibility of the at-fault party. Establishing fault, requires a police investigation, review of photos of both the scene and vehicles, obtaining witness statements, and expert analysis. Once fault is determined, the at-fault party will have their liability  automobile insurance policy cover the medical expenses. As coverage is not always immediate, you may look to your own health insurance coverage to initially cover the expenses. Later, your insurance company will get reimbursed from the at-fault party’s insurance company. If you have personal injury protection (PIP), you would submit your medical expenses to your own automobile insurance company for payment. Pursuing compensation from the at-fault party, requires submitting medical records and bills, wage loss confirmation, and personal damages along with pain and suffering to the insurance company. This can be a long and difficult process best handled by an experienced personal injury attorney. 

Hiring the Right Lawyer for Medical Expense Compensation

Hiring the right attorney for medical expense claims requires finding an attorney who specializes in personal injury law. Start by asking for referrals from your family or friends. Also contact the state and local bar associations and referral services for a recommendation. The attorney must have experience in handling medical expense claims and must also be able to evaluate the case giving you valuable information about the legal process. Make sure any lawyer you consider hiring communicates with you effectively and understands your settlement goals and strategies. Research their background, experience, and reputation. Make sure they make you comfortable and would be easy to work with. It is also important to confirm that they will work on a contingency basis, waiting until the case is finished before they would take an attorney  fee.  

About the Authors: Sawan & Sawan is a multi-generational, family owned law firm practicing law in the areas of car accidents, truck accidents, and other personal injury. Our firm practices law in Ohio and Michigan.

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Dennis P. Sawan

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Christopher A. Sawan


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