Who Pays my Medical Bills after I’ve Been Injured in an Auto Accident?

After a motor vehicle crash, those involved in the crash often find themselves facing skyrocketing medical bills. Understandably, one of the major concerns people have after being injured in a car accident is where they can go to get their medical bills paid. Alabama is an at-fault state, which means that ultimately, the party responsible for the vehicle accident should pay the medical bills. That said, it is hardly ever this simple and straightforward.

If you are injured in a car crash that was caused by another driver’s negligence, it is very rare that the other driver will freely take full responsibility and write you a check to cover all your medical bills. Usually, you will be trying to recover compensation (for your medical costs and other losses) from their insurance company. 

This can be a confusing and intimidating process, especially because insurance companies will do almost anything they can get away with to minimize the amount of compensation they pay out after an accident. This is why it is highly recommended that you get an experienced attorney involved as early as possible after the accident, so your right to recover compensation can be protected.

Getting Medical Bills Paid after a Car Accident

Although the driver who is at fault for an auto accident is the one responsible for paying medical bills, there are some potential obstacles that cause their insurance company to not pay all of these bills:

Auto Insurance Liability Limits

Alabama requires vehicles registered in the state to carry minimum liability coverage of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. While some drivers carry more than that, many only carry minimum state requirements. This could become a major problem if you suffered a serious and debilitating injury in which your medical bills exceed these limits. If this is the case, you will have to look at other options for getting your medical bills reimbursed.

Alabama Contributory Negligence Laws

Alabama is one of a handful of states that applies the “contributory negligence” legal standard.  Under contributory negligence, if an injured party is found to have “contributed” in any way to the underlying accident that caused their injury (even 1%), they can be barred from recovering damages. Insurance companies will often seek to use these laws to their advantage by trying to pin some of the blame for an accident on innocent drivers. This is another reason you need skilled legal counsel by your side to effectively thwart these tactics and fight hard for every dollar of compensation you deserve.

Other Sources for Reimbursement of Auto Accident Medical Bills

If the driver responsible for the accident did not have insurance, did not have enough coverage to pay your medical costs, or for whatever reason you are denied coverage by their insurer, there are some other potential avenues for getting your medical bills paid:

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage: If the at-fault driver did not have sufficient coverage to pay your medical costs and cover other losses (such as lost earnings and pain and suffering), then you will need to look to the uninsured/underinsured (UM/UIM) motorist coverage in your own insurance policy. Alabama does not require drivers to carry this type of coverage, but UM/UIM coverage is highly recommended for exactly these types of situations.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage: Another optional coverage that is highly recommended is called personal injury protection (PIP), otherwise known as “no fault coverage”. If you have PIP coverage, your own insurer will pay your medical bills and cover your other losses up to the policy limits, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Most insurers will only offer up to $25,000 in PIP insurance, so it probably won’t pay all of your medical bills if you suffered a serious injury. That said, PIP coverage can be especially helpful in a state like Alabama because of the contributory negligence standard we discussed earlier.

Your Own Health Insurance: If your PIP coverage is exhausted and you are waiting to recover additional damages for your injuries from the responsible party’s insurer and/or your own UM/UIM coverage, your own health insurance can pay your bills (if you have insurance). This, of course, will be subject to co-pays and deductibles (which can sometimes be several thousand dollars), and if you ultimately recover damages from the other party, your health insurer will want to be reimbursed for what they have paid. 

Medicare/Medicaid: If you do not have private health insurance through your employer or from the public exchange, you may be able to get your bills covered through Medicare or Medicaid, if you qualify for either of these programs. These are both government health programs, and they generally will not pay your medical bills until they have received a notice stating that your PIP coverage (if you have it) has been exhausted.

Workers’ Compensation Coverage: One other possible source for recovering medical costs after a car accident is through workers’ compensation benefits. However, this would only apply in limited situations in which the accident occurred while you were on the job, such as if you are making a delivery for your employer. Speak with your attorney to find out if workers’ comp benefits might be available in your situation.  

Injured in an Auto Accident in Alabama? Contact a Seasoned Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or someone close to you suffered injury in a car accident in Alabama and it was someone else’s fault, you have a right to compensation for all of your losses; including reimbursement for your medical bills. But as you can see, getting your bills paid is not always a smooth and seamless process, and it is always best to work with a skilled and knowledgeable attorney who thoroughly understands how to get you the full and fair compensation you deserve.

At Mann & Potter, we are ready to go to work for you! Call us today at 205-879-9661 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation and case assessment. You may also message us online or stop by our Birmingham office in person at your convenience.

Back to School: Avoiding Accidents with School Buses

Summer has come to a close and Fall is now in full swing. This means that millions of kids in Alabama and throughout the country are back in school. We all want our kids to learn and succeed in school, and this starts with creating an environment where they can get to and from school safely.

School buses are the most common way Alabama children travel to and from school. There are more than 8,200 buses that service school districts throughout the state, and more than 375,000 kids ride them each day.

Buses are a relatively safe way for school kids to travel. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), children are 70 times more likely to arrive at school safely when traveling by bus rather than traveling by car. In addition, school bus fatalities account for less than 1% of all traffic related fatalities each year.

Although school buses are safer than most other modes of transportation, accidents still happen from time to time. Oftentimes, the risk is not so much that a child riding inside the bus will be hurt, but more so that they might get hurt when they are outside the bus. There is also the risk of serious injury to other motorists who collide with school buses, like what happened to the 17-year old high school student who was severely injured and later died when his car crashed into a school bus in August near Phenix City, AL.

If we all do our part, tragedies like these can be prevented, and we can help ensure that our kids have a safe and successful school year. Toward that end, here are five things that we as drivers can do to avoid accidents with school buses:

  1. Avoid Distracted Driving

The morning and evening rush hours can be hectic times of the day to drive. Drivers are often stuck in heavy traffic and in a hurry to get to work. On top of that, you may be trying to finish your morning coffee while you drive and respond to the latest text from your boss or coworker who needs something. This, unfortunately, is the world we live in. But that is no excuse to drive unsafely and put yourself and others in danger. 

Always give yourself plenty of time to get to work in the morning, and do not respond to texts and other electronic notifications from your cellphone. Most of these messages can wait, and if there is something you absolutely need to respond to, pull over in a safe spot and put your car in park first before sending your response.

  • Watch for Children Walking and Biking to School

Not all school kids ride the bus. Some who live closer to their school choose to walk or ride their bikes. From the moment you back out of your driveway, you need to be on the lookout for young pedestrians and bicyclists. This is especially true when you are driving through school zones.

  • Watch for Children Approaching Bus Stops

Along the same lines as the previous point, when you are driving near a bus stop, watch out for kids who are walking to the stop or already there waiting for the bus. Children are unpredictable, especially younger children, and you never know when a child will dash across the street trying to catch the bus or when they end up on the streets while just playing around with friends.

  • Drive Slowly when you are Behind a School Bus

You need drive slowly not only when there are kids nearby walking or riding their bikes, but also when you end up behind a school bus. Buses slow down and stop frequently to pick up and drop off kids, and they are also required to come to a complete stop at railroad crossings.  Proceed with caution when you are behind a bus, and always give them plenty of room to complete their stops safely.

  • Always Obey Alabama School Bus Laws

In most cases, you are not allowed to pass a stopped school or church bus in Alabama. If you are behind either type of bus or approaching it from the other direction, you are required to stop as soon as the bus raises its signal arm and remain stopped until the signal arm is lowered.  The only exception to this rule is when you are approaching a bus from the other direction on a divided four or six lane highway that contains a barrier or unpaved area which divides the directional lanes.

The state of Alabama does not look kindly on drivers who disobey school bus laws. Penalties for passing a school bus illegally start at $150 to $300 along with points on your driving record and higher insurance rates for a first offense. Multiple offenders face higher fines, loss of driving privileges, community service requirements, and other consequences. Many school districts have installed stop-arm cameras to catch offenders, so it is never a good idea to take a chance and disobey these rules.

Injured in a School Bus Accident in Alabama? Contact a Seasoned Vehicle Accident Lawyer

Even if you do your best to drive safely, bus accidents can still happen because of the negligent actions or omissions of other parties. If you or a loved one suffered injury in an auto accident in Alabama that was someone else’s fault, you need strong legal counsel by your side advocating forcefully for your rights and interests.

To schedule a free consultation and case assessment with one of the experienced attorneys at Mann & Potter, call us today at 205-879-9661, message us online, or stop by our Birmingham office at your convenience.

Five Things You Should Do Immediately After a Car Accident

If you have been involved in a car accident, this is not the time to be complacent. It is understandable that you’re upset and want things to return to the way they were just before the crash, but it’s vital that you take some steps to protect your legal rights before they are jeopardized.

When another party acted carelessly or negligently and caused your injuries, you have the right to make a claim for damages. But this can become increasingly difficult as time passes or if you fail to take the proper actions in the wake of a crash.

Whether you have just been in a wreck and you are reading this article from your mobile phone at the accident scene or want to know what to do if something happens down the road, here are five steps to take to protect your rights just after a car accident:

1. Never leave the scene.

As a general rule, you should never leave the scene of an accident. In some cases, this could be treated as a hit-and-run, and you’ll face charges. The only time you are justified in leaving the scene of an accident is when you require emergency medical treatment. And even in cases like this, you should only leave in an ambulance and not with another bystander, family member, or friend.

2. Call the police.

Your safest bet is to call 911 immediately after an accident and request that the police come to the scene. If there are no injuries, you may have to wait a long time or the police might not come, but there will still be a record of the call. If the police do show up, getting a police report filed is the best way to have an official record of the accident, which is something generally used by insurance companies to determine fault.

3. Get medical treatment.

If anyone is injured in the accident, it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Even a minor fender bender can lead to serious and life-changing injuries. The sooner you seek medical treatment, the better it will be for your case since you will have reliable documentation of your injuries.

4. Collect important information.

Even though the police will collect information at the scene of the accident, you should do this as well if you are physically able. In addition to taking pictures of the scene and damages with your phone, be sure to get the names and contact information of the other drivers, any witnesses, driver’s license and license plate numbers of vehicles involved, and insurance company information.

5. Call your insurance company.

You are required to report motor vehicle accidents to your insurance company as soon as possible, generally within 24 hours. What you don’t have to do is sign any release forms, give a recorded statement, or make any statements regarding fault. Make sure that you report the accident as required, but don’t go any further until you speak with an attorney.

In the Days Just After an Accident

Even after you’ve taken the above steps, there is still plenty to deal with after a serious car wreck. The next vital move is to contact an experienced Alabama personal injury attorney for a free consultation. The right attorney will thoroughly review your circumstances and outline your legal options.

Once hired, they can perform an independent accident investigation and keep track of all the details involved in pursuing a claim against the responsible parties. They will also deal with the insurance companies on your behalf, which allows you to focus entirely on your physical and emotional recovery.

This is the time that you should pay the closest attention to the messages from your body and keep in close contact with your treating physician. Since not all serious injury symptoms show up immediately, it is important to stay vigilant and document anything out of the ordinary such as numbness, pain, and dizziness.

Schedule Your Free Consultation with a Qualified Car Accident Lawyer

Time is not on your side after a car crash. Evidence can slip away or be destroyed, and witnesses can disappear. There is also the chance that an unscrupulous insurance adjuster might attempt to deny your legitimate claim or offer a settlement for much less than your case is worth. At Mann & Potter, P.C., we fiercely protect the rights of car accident victims throughout the Birmingham area and will aggressively pursue the full and fair compensation you deserve from the parties responsible for your crash. Contact our office today at 205-879-9661 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.