If you were injured in an accident that was not your fault, you might be left wondering, “who pays for medical bills after a car accident?” If someone else is liable for the accident, this party’s insurance may help cover the past and future costs of medical care. If the injuries from that accident were severe enough for the costs to be over the policy amount, you may be able to recover monetary damages through a personal injury lawsuit.
Accidents can cause financial strain on even the most financially prepared family, especially if an injury impacts the ability to work. Victims may only miss a short amount of work, but depending on the severity of injuries, may miss weeks or even months and require rehabilitation. Some injuries may permanently disable the victim, and he or she may not be able to work at all. To not miss any financial compensation that the victim may recover from the at fault driver, he or she should be aware of what costs can be included in the accident claim.
Does Insurance Pay for Medical Bills After a Car Accident?
Soon after an accident, you might wonder who pays for car accident medical bills, and the short answer is insurance. Specifically, your auto and health insurance may cover a portion of your car accident medical bills, or an at-fault driver’s insurance company may pay for them.
Early on after an accident, the best way to cover medical expenses is to go through your own insurance at first, but you should also report the accident to other drivers’ insurance companies. Be sure to document all of your medical expenses and keep copies of any receipts to be able to accurately calculate the costs of your expenses relating to your medical care.
In most states, drivers must carry certain types of insurance to help cover medical bills and other costs. This type of coverage could include bodily injury liability coverage, uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage, underinsured motorist coverage, or property damage liability insurance. In Illinois, drivers are required to have some liability coverage in case of accidents.
At-fault drivers’ insurance normally covers the damages in car accidents. However, in no-fault states, you will need to go through your own insurance for compensation. If the accident was the result of a hit-and-run, you will also need to go through your insurance company. Also, states with comparative negligence will also influence the amount of compensation you’re able to recover. Under the comparative negligence model, you may not be able to get full compensation from an at-fault driver if you share liability with other drivers.
Illinois follows modified comparative negligence, which allows drivers to recover damages as long as the driver is less than 50% at fault for the accident. However, the amount of compensation that can be recovered will be adjusted by the percentage of fault.
Determining Fault in Auto Collision Cases
In states where at-fault drivers and other parties are liable for covering car accident medical bills and other damages, one key step will be to determine who is at fault for the accident. There are many elements that go into identifying at-fault parties in car accident cases, particularly if the circumstances of the accident are complex and there are several parties involved.
For example, when proving fault, all parties must provide sufficient information about the accident and how it transpired, and witnesses to the accident may influence the determination through witness statements. Police reports can also be used to determine who is at fault, so it is important to always file a police report if there were any injuries or significant property damage.
Normally, insurance companies will begin investigating an accident once the claims process starts. After this investigation, the insurance company will determine who was at fault, at which point the insurer will begin calculating compensation to cover medical expenses and other damages, including vehicle and other property damage.
Depending on who was at fault, insurance companies may also only cover a percentage of the damages. For example, one insurance company may agree to cover 60% of the damages, while another covers the remaining 40%, based on the degree of fault that the drivers shared.
Sometimes, fault may not be clear, in which case it can be helpful to have witnesses who saw the accident. When the parties involved in the accident don’t want to admit fault, witnesses may be able to describe the accident and how it occurred, which can help identify who was at fault. Witnesses may provide their version of events to authorities at the scene of the accident. If there is any question of fault, it is important to contact a car accident attorney right away.
Other evidence may also help prove or disprove fault in an accident, including photos or video footage of the accident scene, skid marks, injuries, and a reconstruction of the accident. As long as injuries are not severe enough to warrant immediate medical attention, you should stay at the scene to talk to the authorities.
Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit
While most car accident cases settle during negotiations with insurance companies, some may wind up turning into lawsuits if parties can’t come to an agreement. For instance, you might want to sue an insurance company after a car accident if the company refuses to pay compensation or is taking a long time to review your claim.
You may need to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver or another liable party. If you decide to file a lawsuit, you might also be unsure how to approach the process. To help ensure you get the best results, you’ll want to work with an attorney who has experience with car accident lawsuits. An experienced lawyer may be able to help you build a case and recover compensation from negligent parties through either a settlement agreement or awarded damages from a trial.
Do You Need a Lawyer After a Car Accident?
If an accident involves minor damage and doesn’t result in a lawsuit, you may be able to recover full compensation with a basic insurance claim through either your own insurance or the at fault driver’s insurance policy. However, if there are multiple parties involved and substantial damages, such as serious injuries and extensive property damage, you will benefit from having an attorney by your side.
If you determine that a lawsuit is necessary, you’ll need to work with an attorney to maximize your chances of success. The other party’s insurance company will likely hire an attorney, and you may not be sufficiently familiar with the legal process, making it important for you to have legal assistance. When speaking to the other party’s insurance, avoid making statements that may be construed as an admission of fault. This can reduce the amount of money that you may be able to recover, or it may allow them to deny your claim. Your attorney will be able to speak with the insurance company on your behalf and look over any settlement offers to make sure that the amount will cover all necessary costs.
Statute of Limitations
You only have a limited amount of time to file a claim or lawsuit after a car accident. This is known as the statute of limitations, which varies from state to state. For example, the statute of limitations for car accident injury claims in Illinois is typically two years. This statute gives you two years to start a claim or lawsuit after the date of the accident or diagnoses of an injury whose underlying cause is the accident. If you fail to file in time, you may not be able to recover compensation from liable parties after an accident. An attorney can review your case to see if any exceptions to the statute of limitations may apply.
In the event of an accident, it’s important to understand who pays for medical bills and other damages if you are not the responsible party. This allows you to recover any financial losses that may arise out of the car accident, and not be stuck paying for your expenses out of your own pocket. Retaining legal counsel can help make sure that all costs of the accident are calculated in the final amount, this can include not only medical bills but also lost wages and pain and suffering.