The legal answer to the above question is that it depends on who is at fault for the motorcycle accident. If you do not properly identify negligent parties and prove liability, there is a chance that you may be responsible for some of the bills from your own pocket. This is why you need a motorcycle accident lawyer to fight for your legal rights.
If the accident was not your fault, you should not experience financial impacts from someone else’s carelessness. Nonetheless, the issue of medical expenses after a motorcycle accident is not always straightforward, even if the driver was negligent. You will want a motorcycle accident lawyer near you to help protect you and obtain the compensation you need to pay your bills.
Who Is at Fault Is a Critical Determination
The determination of fault is of critical importance. If you cannot show that someone else was at fault, you could be facing financial difficulties. This could stick you with medical bills that you might never pay off, especially when you miss time from work due to your injuries. This is why you must seek help from the very first instant in which you need to communicate with an insurance company.
In most cases, it is the driver of the car who is at fault for the accident. This will help the financial situation of the injured motorcyclist.
Motorists cause motorcycle crashes because:
- Drivers do not use the proper effort and vigilance to spot motorcycles that are in their blind spots. It takes some doing to see a bike because they are not on the same eye level as the car. It is the driver’s legal obligation to see, but many drivers are careless.
- Some drivers are distracted behind the wheel, whether it is because they are on their mobile device or doing something else like eating or fixing their makeup.
- Aggressive drivers turn across a lane of traffic when they make a left turn, crashing into bikers in the lane to the left of them.
- Spending drivers lose control of their car and force bikers off the road or simply crash into the motorcycles.
Your Motorcycle Insurance Itself Will Not Pay Your Medical Bills
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, you may wonder who has the legal obligation to pay for your medical bills. The bad news for you is that your motorcycle insurance does not have first-party benefits. This means that if you suffer injuries in an accident, you have no coverage for your medical bills.
In the wake of an accident, the billing statements will be coming at you from all directions.
You may rack up the following medical costs:
- Ambulance charges to take you to the hospital
- Emergency room fees
- Doctors are charged separately from the hospital fee. You may see multiple specialists during your hospital stay.
- The costs of surgical procedures
- Prescription medications
- Medical equipment such as crutches, braces, or a wheelchair
- Costs of rehabilitation and physical therapy
- Charges for follow-up visits with your doctor
As you can see, the medical costs for your motorcycle accident injury can add up quickly. It is not uncommon for medical charges to reach into the six figures.
You Have Health Insurance Coverage, but That Is Not the End of the Story
While your health insurance policy might cover some medical costs, this does not tell the entire story. First, you may need to pay your portion of the medical bills. Some health insurance plans are better than others when it comes to the percentage of costs paid. In recent years, more bare-bones health insurance plans have become legal.
This increases the chances that even your share of the charges can be considerable. If you have needed surgery and an extended stay in the hospital, you may be looking at a bill on your own that runs into the five figures.
The bad news is that no matter who is at fault for the accident, you will have to pay your share of your medical bills at first. This is true even if you get your money in the future. Bill collectors may be hounding you, even when you are losing income and stretched financially.
One of the first ways that your motorcycle accident attorney can help you is by talking to your bill collectors to buy you some time to pay. Even if you cannot eliminate your debt responsibility, your attorney can help buy you time to pay. Of course, if you recover later, you can receive compensation for the money that you pay back.
Additional Types of Insurance Can Help You
Depending on your insurance, some options may help you cover some of your out-of-pocket charges. While standard motorcycle insurance does not cover your medical expenses, there are some add-ons to your policy that can help you in the event of a crash. Remember, even if someone eventually pays your medical bills, you bear some of the initial cost burdens until you get reimbursed.
You can purchase motorcycle medical payments coverage that can cover some of what you must pay. This could include things such as co-pays and deductibles. In some cases, these only kick in after your health insurance is exhausted. However, this is a good way to defray some of your costs when you have expensive medical bills. Of course, this will increase your motorcycle insurance premium payments, but you will get peace of mind knowing that you have some help with your medical bills.
In some states, you can also purchase special personal injury protection for motorcyclists. This is only available in no-fault states. This will help cover some of your damages from the motorcycle accident, including your medical bills. However, only a handful of states are no-fault states. If this protection is available in your state, you should jump at the opportunity and get as much coverage as you can.
The Medical Bills Will Come Quickly, and They Will Pile Up
All the above discussion is independent of who is at fault for the accident because the medical bills will come regardless. At some point, the insurance companies will determine who is at fault for the accident and responsible for paying your medical bills.
Of course, when a driver is the responsible party, they must pay your medical bills. Their insurance company will pay for your expenses up to the policy limits. Each policy will have a maximum amount of coverage for bodily injury and other types of medical expenses. Other parties that might be liable include employers of drivers, car manufacturers that sold defective vehicles, rideshare companies, or agencies that allowed road hazards.
You Are at Risk When You Have Catastrophic Medical Bills
There is nothing to say that drivers need to have anything more than the limited amount of the minimum coverage. In fact, some motorists try to skimp and save money by having only the basic amount of car insurance. This puts you at risk if you suffer a severe injury with catastrophic medical bills.
If your medical bills exceed the amount of the other driver’s maximum coverage, you can still receive payment for these extra medical bills:
- You should have underinsured motorists coverage as part of your motorcycle insurance policy. No matter what state you are in, your insurance provider must always offer this coverage. Every motorcyclist should purchase this, even if they have the utmost confidence in their own abilities. You never know what actions other negligent drivers on the road may take.
- As mentioned above, medical payments coverage will take care of your share of the healthcare costs, although this policy may also have a maximum amount of coverage.
- If your total bills exceed both the amount of the driver’s coverage and your own personal coverage, the other motorist would be personally responsible for your costs. You could obtain a lawsuit against the other driver. In reality, while you may get a judgment against the driver, it would be difficult to ever collect the money that they owe you. They certainly cannot pay the entire amount of the judgment at first.
Your Health Insurance Company Expects You to Reimburse It From Your Settlement
When you do collect from the other driver’s insurance company, your medical insurance will have a right to recover what it spent to pay your medical bills. Otherwise, you would receive a windfall. Your health insurance company has this right of subrogation of benefits when it comes to your settlement or jury award. This means it will get reimbursed for the medical bills it paid.
This can be a difficult part of your motorcycle insurance claims process. In some cases, the health insurance company may try to take most or all of your settlement based on claimed expenses. You need an attorney who knows how to both negotiate a settlement that will protect you from this and deal with your health insurance company. The goal is to make sure that as much of your settlement as possible goes into your own pocket.
Your Attorney Could Help Protect Your Settlement from Unreasonable Liens
When you enter into a settlement agreement, you receive a lump sum. Your health insurance will be trying to get their part of your proceeds. You need to make sure that you have enough left over to cover the expenses that you need to pay. Your health insurance company should not be allowed to profit off of your situation, and your attorney will fight for you. As you can see, negotiating a settlement is not necessarily the end of your legal concerns.
Your attorney will understand and anticipate who has the right to be reimbursed from your settlement before they allow you to sign the agreement. This will ensure that you can still receive the money that you need for your injuries. Without an attorney, you may be taken by surprise when another insurance company sends you a notice that they have a lien on your settlement for costs that they have already paid.
Regardless of who is paying back what, You can rest assured that your health insurance must still cover your bills no matter what up to the policy maximum. They cannot deny coverage because you have been in an accident and suffered injuries caused by someone else. When your health insurance has covered your medical expenses after your injuries, they will make sure that they are not hit with the tab when you do receive money. However, you must make sure that you have protection from health insurance profiteering. While your health insurance receives payment for what they laid out, they should not then take the money that you need to survive after your accident.
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney Right After Your Injury for Help With Insurance Coverage Matters
The real difficulty comes if you exhaust your policy limits while you are waiting for a settlement. This may leave you with a mountain of medical bills without any short-term way to pay them. Your attorney can help negotiate with the hospital or medical provider to buy you some breathing room. Your lawyer might, for example, negotiate a contract that will get you the medical treatment that you need if you agree to pay the hospital first out of your settlement proceeds.
This is why you need the advice of an attorney right after your injury. Your accident may have left you in no condition to manage your situation or know how your medical bills can affect both your personal financial situation and your possible settlement.
The right motorcycle accident lawyer can help you get to the bottom of your case and minimize the ramifications on your own finances. Never wait to seek the necessary legal assistance if a car hits you on your motorcycle.