If you have been involved in a car accident in Rhode Island, you likely have concerns about how this will impact you financially. Providence Car Accident Lawyer Louis W. Grande discusses the factors in determining who is responsible for the medical bills.
The first thing many people worry about after being a victim in a car accident in Rhode Island is how they are going to pay for everything. After a car accident, not only is there damage to the vehicle that has to be paid for, but also for all of the bodily and mental injuries that a traumatic crash caused. Coming up with the money to pay for the mounting bills is not only daunting but stressful and traumatic all on its own. The injuries after a car crash can make it impossible to work for many weeks, which means that a car crash victim can struggle to pay any bills, let alone their medical and car bills. Many people are confused about where to turn to, especially because they never planned to be in a car crash to begin with! There are many places to turn to for medical bill coverage after a victim is involved in an unfortunate accident, such as the at-fault driver’s insurance through a settlement, your own car insurance Medical Payment (MedPay) or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage, or through your own health insurance. Rhode Island auto accident attorneys understand how different avenues of recovery can pay off bills and yield the maximum recovery.
Most often, a car accident victim can look at the at-fault driver’s insurance for medical bill coverage. Unlike many states, Rhode Island has no minimum requirements to bring a personal injury lawsuit. The major downside to this avenue for paying medical bills is that the accident victim has to wait a long time for the bills to be paid. The bills can only be paid after a settlement is reached with the at-fault drivers insurance. The entire process varies widely from case to case, with a settlement after a car crash not coming in some rare cases for years. The long wait can lead to many doctors and medical providers getting impatient. Those providers will not hesitate in sending the outstanding balances and bills to collections in order to receive payment for those unpaid balances. That can really hurt the credit of a victim, which is another burden in an already stressful time. Many medical professionals, knowing that settlements take a long time to conclude, refuse to provide service to those who are using the at-fault insurance through a settlement, making it hard to get the medical coverage the victim deserves.
The benefits of a victim using the at-fault insurance for payment of the medical bills is obviously that they don’t have to use their own insurance for these payments. The victim doesn’t have to pay their copays or risk their car insurance going up. That is a very big benefit of this strategy. If a victim is not working because of an accident, they might not be able to pay copays. A victim might need extensive treatment after an accident, and their own no-fault coverage on their own car insurance might not be able to cover all of their treatment. Using settlement money can provide a much larger pool of money to help get the treatment you need to recover. That is a massive benefit to those who need it.
Rhode Island does not require no-fault PIP or MedPay coverage. However, insurance companies still offer it. MedPay is coverage that a victim buys on their own car insurance. MedPay is a “no-fault” insurance, meaning that the victim can use it even if they are not the reason the crash occurred. Since MedPay is “no-fault”, a victim can not be held responsible for using it, meaning that the victim’s insurance premiums should not rise if they use it. The victim then can use their MedPay insurance at medical providers that accept it and their bills will be paid by their own car insurance provider. This avoids the co-payments that medical insurance requires, as MedPay can be used to pay the entire bill or can be used to cover copays. This is also a much quicker way to pay bills, as the car insurance provider does not require there to be any fault in using it, which means that bills won’t be sent to collections.
MedPay does have one downside, and that is generally a very small amount of money that can be used for treatment. Most victims purchase the lowest amount so they can keep their rates low. States like Rhode Island make it optional, making it waivable, so many victims don’t even have this resource available. This resource very rarely can cover all of the bills from an accident. But it can be used to cover bills until it is completely used up, which is absolutely better than nothing. Another issue with MedPay is that sometimes, a victim’s car insurance may ask for compensation from a settlement that the victim receives from the at-fault party in the accident. This is called a lien, and the victim is legally obligated to pay if the language within their insurance contract is explicit. This obviously means less money will go to the victim.
Health insurance is the final common resource people use for paying off their medical bills from a car accident in Rhode Island. The biggest benefit is that it can cover a majority of the bills without causing any stress from finding a medical provider that will accept it. As long as a victim goes to an in-network facility, their insurance will cover them. They will only be obligated to pay the copays that their insurance requires for their prescriptions, hospital, and doctors visits. This is what many victims are simply used to dealing with, which is just one less stress they have to deal with. Many health insurance providers, especially Medicaid, Medicare, and Tricare, put a lien on the settlement a victim gets from the at-fault driver. These can be negotiated down in many jurisdictions, and since health insurance usually does not pay medical providers the full amounts that medical providers want, means that a victim can come out ahead if they use their insurance.