Who Pays for Medical Bills After a Car Accident?

Unfortunately, many car accidents in and around this area result in an injury for one or more parties involved. According to data available from the California Office of Traffic Safety, we know that there were more than 272,000 total car accident injuries during the latest reporting year across the state. Out of these injuries, more than 14,000 were considered severe. It is not uncommon for car accident victims to sustain injuries such as broken and dislocated bones, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, internal organ damage or bleeding, whiplash injuries, and more. It is important to know who pays for medical bills in the aftermath of a car accident and to speak with a knowledgeable Santa Ana car accident attorney before paying out of pocket for medical costs.

California Is a Fault-Based Accident State

In California, anyone who is injured or sustains property damage in the aftermath of a car accident will recover compensation from the at-fault driver or that driver’s insurance carrier. California law requires that all drivers carry the following insurance minimums to remain legal on the roadway:

  • $15,000 for injury or death to one person in an accident you cause
  • $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person in an accident you cause
  • $5,000 for damage to property in an accident you cause

Who Pays Before a Settlement Can Be Reached?

Unfortunately, it may take some time to receive a settlement from an insurance carrier for your medical expenses. Car insurance companies may delay a claim in order to get a victim to accept a lower out-of-court settlement. It may even be necessary to file a lawsuit against an at-fault driver or their insurance carrier to recover the compensation you need. While waiting for a settlement, you may need to turn to other sources to obtain coverage for your medical expenses. Other sources of medical payments could include:

  • Your private health insurance
  • Government health insurance programs such as Medicare or Medi-Cal
  • Workers’ compensation coverage if the incident was work-related
  • Healthcare providers willing to work on a California “medical lien” basis

In California, drivers are able to purchase what is called Med Pay insurance that will cover medical expenses in an accident, regardless of who is at fault. While car insurance companies in California are required to offer Med Pay, drivers are not required to carry this type of insurance coverage.

If you are injured in an accident, and it was determined that you caused the incident, you may need to turn to the various types of coverage listed above for your medical expenses.

What About Uninsured or Underinsured Drivers

If you are involved in a car accident with a driver that does not have insurance, or whose insurance limits are not sufficient to cover your total expenses, you may need to rely on uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage. This type of coverage is not required to be carried by drivers in California. However, drivers should consider purchasing this type of coverage, as it is relatively inexpensive and will provide significant benefits in these situations.

When the Insurance Settlement Comes

The goal is to eventually receive a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier to cover all of your medical expenses. If you used other types of insurance to cover the medical costs after your car accident, these other insurers may be entitled to some reimbursement out of your final car insurance settlement.

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