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.