Car Collision and Medical Bills in Florida
The 2018 report on car accidents in Florida shows 403,262 car crashes. According to the stats from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department, there are a total of 255,353 injuries due to these accidents. If you or your loved one happen to be one of those who got injured in a car accident, who do you think will be paying your medical expenses for treatment?
It’s a question you should not ignore, especially with the escalation in medical bills due to the rise of healthcare costs throughout the country. There are many things you should know when dealing with your medical expenses after a car accident. For instance, how your case will proceed depends on the cost of your medical bills, the severity of your injuries, the insurance of your vehicle, and any health insurance you carry. There could also be other reasons like someone else who is to blame for the accident. Working with an experienced car accident attorney will ensure that you do not miss the chance to get compensation from all liable parties in the accident.
The PIP Coverage is the First Initiation
Florida is a no-fault state when it comes to matters dealing with car accidents and insurances. What does that mean? Well, the name itself is a clear explanation, when there is an accident, regardless of the fault of any party, you’ll first have to raise the claim with your insurance provider. Who is at fault is something that would come later.
In other places, the person who is at-fault and caused the accident may have to pay the damages from the start as the claimant can put his medical expense on the at-fault driver. In Florida, there are some conditions that you first must understand before you can seek to have the at-fault driver to pay your medical bills.
Florida Personal Injury Coverage
For paying medical bills after a car accident, you will first need to reach your insurance provider. The first-time insurance is personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, and the state demands that all car owners who register their vehicles get a PIP cover.
A holder of PIP coverage will pay to the extent of $10,000 or 80 percent of your medical bills falling under $10,000. The immediate concern that follows these conditions is who is going to settle the remaining 20% and what is your medical bill is over $10,000, for instance, $20,000 who will pay the remaining amount? With car accidents, the medical bills can practically go way over $10,00 that is a minimum threshold here. Several factors can add to your medical bills such as payment for emergency rooms, doctors fee, medication costs, other hospitalization charges, and retrofitting expenses, such as sticks.
The PIP coverage will cover anyone in your family who drives your car and got injured in a vehicle collision.
Your Health Coverage Policy
In case you exceed over $10,000, your health insurance is liable to pay that amount. Likewise, if PIP coverage is paying 80% of the medical bills, you can claim the remaining 20% on your health insurance.
Who is at Fault for the Vehicle Accident?
When you go to your health insurance and raise a claim for the remaining medical payments, the question of who is at fault that led to the accident will come up for sure. If your PIP is enough to pay for the expense, you may not pay much attention to the question, but to claim medical costs from health insurance, you need to be ready to answer these questions.
In instances where it is clear that the other party is at fault, your health insurance provider can see compensation from the person at-fault by reaching to his health insurance provider and asking them to pay your medical expenses. In urgent cases, your health insurance can settle all your medical expenses, but later will claim these bills from the party who was at fault by sending the bill claims to the party’s health insurance provider.
Who is at Fault – Determining the At-Fault Driver
The first determinant is to check the reason for the car accident. Having a license obligates drivers to “drivers owe,” i.e., the obligation to drive safely and follow all traffic rules and regulations.
Any violation of following such traffic safety and regulation is negligence, and a person who is liable for carelessness will be responsible for the accident. He will have to pay for the costs of the medical bills or any other liability that may arise from the accident bills. For instance, there is an accident where a driver rear-ended your car. In this case, it is mostly the fault of that driver as it is his responsibility to leave enough space between vehicles to avoid accidents.
A Car Accident with No Fault of the Driver
There are other possibilities where the other car hit your vehicle and injured you. Maybe the driver is not at fault and while driving his car skids on snow, or there’s a tire blowout, and he loses control and hits your vehicle. Maybe the case looks like the driver is at fault, but the driver can prove that his car went out of control when he hit your vehicle. There could be a car manufacturing fault making the manufacturer and not the driver liable to pay for the medical bills. Manufacturers are responsible for producing reliable and safe vehicles, so any negligence in their production makes them accountable.
If any car production has a safety issue, then the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has the power to halt the production and raise a recall. The responsibility to make sure all the cars already sold goes back to the manufacturer is on the carmaker, and he would be responsible for fixing all issues in the recall. Likewise, if the accident is because of poor road conditions or any weak infrastructure like a bridge, then the entity looking after such structures will have to pay for their neglect.
All these scenarios imply that whenever the cause of the accident is the negligence of the other party, they may have to take the liability to pay your medical bills.
Your health insurance firm will raise a third-party claim that will hold all accountable liable to pay for the damages.
Can You Track a Third-Party Application?
Individuals in Florida can only seek a third-party right if they have received a severe wound. Grave harm or impairment is determined to be a minimum of one of the conditions.
- If the Accident Results in Broken Bone(s)
- Notable disfigurement
- Significant inhibition that prevents a person from using a body organ.
- Enduring deficiency of use of a body organ or part
- Considerably full incapacity for 90 days
If your impairment passes as severe, then the constitution permits you to seek costs not only from a third-party coverage claim but also from a personal injury prosecution. The process is the “stepping outside of no-fault,” boundaries as you have the option to seek compensation from outside the no-fault system.
Benefits to Going Outside of No-Fault
There are many benefits to these outside no-fault claims. The sizable medical bill will result in a high premium on the upcoming insurance, and you should make sure that the other party has to face this increase in their coverage and not you.
You may have other medical expenses that will come in the future due to the nature of the accident. Maybe you are having an injury and need medications for a year. A personal injury claim or filing a third-party application will cover all such future expenses along with the current bills.
There are other financial implications other than medical expenses. Like you may not be able to go to your regular work or manage your business. You may have to spend months in treatment with operations and surgeries. Your PIP will pay 60% of the income you made before the accident and are unable to make after the injury. With a third-party or personal injury claim, you can seek compensation for the total loss of your income. You have the option to pursue the liable parties for the future loss of the income you sustained.
Likewise, if you go outside of no-fault claims, you can also file for noneconomic losses. You may face physical pain and mental stress, and staying in the no-fault system, you cannot ask for such claims.
Does the Third-Party the Right to Refuse Claims?
You may get a third-party claim, but often these claims are hard to pursue. Since insurance companies are in the business of generating profits from the premiums they get, the first attempt of these firms is to deny the claims, and they look at every detail so they can find a reason to deny the request.
You should pursue such claims with the help of your attorney, as these legal consultants are more apt in following with the insurance firms and responding to their objections.
Denial from Insurance Firm
Some insurance companies may deny the claim on the pretext that you, too, are responsible for the accident. They may hire investigators to check your request and dig deep to find anything that can put your legal case in jeopardy. They can raise objections on the treatment option the doctor is recommending or use your statements against you.
Even more common is to use this stressful situation of the accident to push you in going for low settlements that are not enough. Hurt with injuries, often people fall for this tactic and end up with a low-cost solution. Since these insurance firms know you are struggling to pay your bills, they give you a low-ball offer, and rarely a company will provide you with a fair settlement.
Verifying Fault in a Personal Injury Suit
If the insurance firm is not willing to pay for the claim, one can pursue a personal injury claim and hire an attorney to deal with the situation. The attorney will work closely with the investigators and check for all facts to establish with proof that the car accident is not because of your fault, and the other party is liable.
The attorney can interrogate witnesses, access monitoring camera footage if it is possible, and contract forensic investigators who can examine the scene to reproduce what happened.
It would help if you stayed at the scene unless you are severely injured. You should at least attempt to take photos with your smartphone and record the scene of the accident. Whatever you record will benefit you later.
In any case, your priority should be your health, and many things like the doctor’s report can work in your favor. So first try to get treatment and don’t delay going to a doctor.
You may not feel hurt, but some injuries may show results later, so going to the doctor is not something you will want to overlook.
What If an Uninsured Driver Hits Me?
Florida, with 25 percent uninsured driver stats, stands number 2 in the country for the most uninsured driver. You can check with your own insurance company in such cases. Or you can proceed with an at-fault driver lawsuit, but if the driver does not have meaningful assets, you will not get many benefits even if you win the case.