Motor vehicle accidents aren't just painful, they're costly too. The lifetime medical costs for Americans injured in auto accidents in the year 2012 alone topped $18 billion, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of these "lifetime costs," roughly two-thirds will happen in the 18 months after the injury.
If you're a victim of an auto accident and have injuries that require medical attention, you aren't alone. The number of people who are injured in motor vehicle crashes seems like it's on the rise. The overall number rose by 105,000 people between the years 2014 and 2015, notes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Being injured in an auto accident is obviously not an easy time. You're in pain and are probably left wondering who will pay for all of those medical expenses. Before you add another stressor onto everything else you're dealing with, take a moment to stop, breathe and learn about who will pay for your hospital bills.
You're a safe driver. But that doesn't mean you can't get into an auto accident. Sometimes another driver's carelessness can cause major problems for you. When someone else is at fault, exchanging information is absolutely essential. If the other driver leaves the scene before you get their details (that is, their name and number as well as their insurance information), you won't have anyone else to pay for your medical bills.
This doesn't mean that exchanging information automatically qualifies you for full medical payments. But without any information at all, you're on your own.
If your injuries are too extensive or you're in too much pain to exchange information, ask someone else to help. Your passenger, a family member who has come to help or the police who are on the scene can assist in making sure you get the information you'll need later on.
Don't assume that what seems like a minor injury is just that - minor. Some auto injuries, such as whiplash, may creep up on you later on. Making sure that you have the other driver's information allows you to file an accident claim whether you feel okay right away or not.
File a Claim
Before jumping into a lawsuit, file a claim with the auto insurance company. They'll need both your recollection of the accident as well as the details that the other driver provides. You'll also need to submit police reports and medical records/bills that you have as proof.
Keep in mind, the insurance company will start processing your claim for auto damage, and not just for your injuries.
Under California law, drivers are required to have bodily injury liability coverage of at least $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident.
In the event that the insurance company says you're at fault or you know that you're at fault, your insurance's bodily injury coverage may pay for part of your medical costs. But if the other person was at fault, their insurance should pay for this. That is, provided they have insurance. If they don't, you'll need to use your own policy for this.
Calling an Attorney
If California requires every driver to carry insurance and the accident isn't your fault, it seems logical that the other insurance company would pay for all of your hospital bills. This isn't always the case. Insurance companies lose money when they have to pay out large claims. This means they may want to minimize your injuries.
An insurance company that denies a claim (not based on the merit of it) or tries to make it seem like you're actually at fault may try to negotiate a deal with you. If this happens, you'll need a qualified attorney to help you navigate the insurance system.
California is an at-fault insurance state. This means that you are legally allowed to file a claim against the at-fault driver's insurance company if they refuse to pay for your auto or physical damages. That said, you must establish fault in order to receive payment.
Do you need help with a bodily injury claim? Canelo Wallace Padron & Mackie PC can help.