If you’ve been injured in a tractor trailer accident in Virginia, you’re probably starting to see the medical bills come in and the medical costs piling up. You might be wondering “who is going to pay all of these bills?” If your first thought is that the insurance company for the other driver should be paying them as they come in, you’re in for a surprise.
The negligent driver’s insurance company is only ever going to write you one check. In exchange for that check, the auto insurance company is going to ask you to sign a release that says that the check you’re receiving is a “full and final settlement” and that you can never come back to the insurance company or the driver and ask for more money.
If you have health insurance, they should be paying the bills as they come in. However, you need to be aware that the doctor or chiropractor you are seeing for physical therapy might not be in network with your health insurance company. It’s important to ask your treating physician whether they accept (and are willing to bill) your health insurance company before you start treating with them.
You also need to be aware that while most health insurance policies in Virginia do not have a right of subrogation, some do. This means that you might end up in a position where you owe money back to your health insurance company after you settle your car accident case. It is not safe to assume that just because you haven’t received notice of a lien that you won’t owe anything back. You will want your personal injury lawyer to look into the particulars of your health insurance plan.
If you don’t have health insurance, the next place to look is at your own auto policy. You might have medical expense payments benefits that are available to you. MedPay is an optional form of coverage on Virginia policies (it can be called PIP or “personal injury protection” on out of state policies). Essentially, it is a supplement form of health insurance that pays for your medical bills and co-pays as they are incurred. On Virginia policies, you do not have to repay the MedPay money after settling your case, but if you have an out of state policy, you certainly want to check wtih your attorney.
If you have neither health insurance or MedPay, you may be able to work out an assignment of benefits with your health care providers. This means that you and your attorney will sign a document saying that the doctor will be paid for their treatment before any money from the settlement is released to you.
Well yes, of course your personal injury attorney is going to make a demand at the end of the case on the other driver’s insurance company to settle the case. But you want to make sure that before you get to that point, your medical bills from the auto accident are not going into collections and that you’re not being sued for them.