Our clients often ask us “Who is going to pay my bills?” and we tell them, in all honesty – it depends. However, these four steps will help illuminate what happens regarding insurance billing in most cases following a motor vehicle collision. (I’m writing from the perspective of the State of Washington).
Four steps to get your medical bills paid following a car crash:
First of all, please advise all of your health care providers you have Personal Injury Protection (PIP), if applicable. If you don’t know, you need to review the declaration page on your automobile insurance or contact your insurance agent. You must also give your health care providers’ billing offices the name and address of your automobile insurance adjuster, where the bills for your treatment are to be directed, and your claim number (if you know it).
In Washington, most PIP coverage is $10,000. There are several significant benefits to having PIP coverage: 1) there is no co-pay; 2) no referral is required; and 3) treatment will be covered, provided it is needed to treat the injuries you suffered in the collision.
Second, review all communications and billing information from your health care providers or entities. This should be done frequently throughout your claim, as it is essential to making sure your bills are being processed correctly and promptly, and to ensure that your credit is not being adversely affected. Once a bill has been turned over for collection, there is nothing we can do to correct that outcome.
Once your PIP benefits have been exhausted, or three years elapse (whichever occurs first), bills submitted to your PIP carrier will be denied. As soon as practical, you will need to transition from PIP to your health insurance. An accounting ledger, also called a PIP ledger, can be acquired and sent to your health insurance company. This will allow for a smooth transition between the various coverages.
Third, if you do not have health insurance, you may need to pay out-of-pocket for treatment until your claim can be resolved. However, you can ask your health care provider or entity to accept a “Promise to Pay”, or a lien against the settlement proceeds, agreeing to wait until the conclusion of the case for payment. Some providers are happy to do so, while others are not.
Last but not least, the other side will not pay your medical bills until you sign a release of liability form. Do not sign this release until you seek and obtain legal advice from a personal injury lawyer.
We hope this answers any questions you may have regarding the insurance billing aspects of your claim. It is specifically intended to prevent financial strain and/or credit issues, on top of what you are already handling with respect to your injuries and treatment.
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Although our office does not handle all types of cases, we hope you will contact us regarding any legal issues you may encounter. We will answer your questions, or refer you to another quality and trustworthy attorney if we are unable to assist you.