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If I’m Injured in an Accident, Who Pays for My Immediate Medical Bills?

A main concern after an auto accident in Illinois is who will pay the medical bills. Who pays for what before liability is determined? Does your health insurer have a right to deny your claims? When you’re facing a $5,000 bill from the emergency room, these questions are first to come to mind.

How Insurance Claims Work

Contrary to popular belief, the other driver’s insurance doesn’t have to pay your bills when they are due, even if he or she were at fault for the accident. Insurance settlements are typically paid in one lump sum, determined after you have completed treatment. In most cases, you will have to pay your bills before they pay your claim. While this works—in part—to ensure the insurance company compensates you for all your damages, it means you could be on the hook for those bills in the meantime. Understandably, many people feel this is unfair.

Health Insurance

Your health insurer has a duty to pay your bills according to your policy. Your health insurance company may, however, contact you to ask you questions about the accident. They are trying to determine whether another insurance company is responsible for paying your bills because they may be entitled to reimbursement later on.

Even if your health insurer covers your bills in the meantime, you could have high out of pocket costs, which is normal for non-routine visits and procedures like emergency room visits. These costs alone could cause you financial hardship at a time when you should be focusing on recovering.

Paying Your Initial Expenses

But there is a type of auto insurance coverage that may pay your upfront and ongoing expenses before you settle your primary claim. In Illinois, this coverage is called med-pay or medical payments coverage. If you have med-pay for the car you were driving when you got in the accident, it will pay your immediate medical bills up to your policy limits regardless of liability. The only downside to med-pay is the limits are relatively low—typically around $5,000—and your costs may far exceed them.

Lastly, while most medical care providers will send your bills to collections if you don’t pay them, some will provide care on a lien. A lien is a claim the provider places against your settlement. If a provider knows you have an insurance claim open, he or she might continue to provide care with the promise that they will be paid once you settle your case.

If getting your immediate medical bills paid is your top concern, consider speaking with an experienced Arlington Heights personal injury attorney. Don’t let providers send your bills to collections without thoroughly exploring your options. A good attorney can explain the different types of coverage and help you determine how you can get your medical bills paid.

R.F. Wittmeyer

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