This topic is a big one and comes up very often. While our federal government is working out a new health plan for our Country, the fact remains that roughly 46 million people in America do not have any health insurance, including 140,000 people in our small State of Rhode Island. Many people without health insurance have no idea what to do following an auto accident even though they are seriously hurt.
The at-fault driver will be responsible for all of your medical bills. Unfortunately, you will not receive this money until the case is settled or a verdict is reached at trial. That means you could be waiting several months to a few years. There are options, however, and an experienced auto accident attorney can help you through the process.
In Rhode Island, many auto policies contain Medpay.
Medpay acts just like health insurance. If you, or the owner of the vehicle you were in at the time of the accident, has medpay on the auto policy, this coverage will pay all of your medical bills up to either $2500 or $5000 depending on the policy. Many people are unaware that medpay exists, but it is a very affordable coverage that is often grouped with a "full coverage" policy. This money comes directly from your insurance company so you do not have to wait as with a settlement or jury verdict.
Massachusetts drivers have personal injury protection (PIP)
PIP will cover you for up to $8000 in medical bills if you have a Massachusetts auto policy and no health insurance. Like medpay, this money is available to you right away and can help with emergency room bills or necessary diagnostic testing such as MRI's and CT scans.
What if there is no medpay, no PIP, and no health insurance?
Honestly, this could get a little tricky. Understand that you have a right to be seen at an emergency room following an auto accident. If they know that you have no health insurance, the care may not be the best, but they will at least stabilize your injuries. Hospitals and emergency rooms often have to wait for payment and if they know that you are represented by an attorney, they will often wait to receive payment at the time of settlement.
In addition, many doctors, chiropractors, physical therapists, and other specialists, are willing to treat your injuries right away and wait for payment from the accident settlement. The more trusted your attorney, the more likely a doctor or specialist will trust him or her to pay the bills when the claim is resolved.
I have an excellent reputation among doctors and medical providers in this community and can always find a physician willing to treat your injuries while delaying payment. In one case, in which my client suffered traumatic brain injury, I was able to arrange treatment with a neurologist and psychiatrist who both agreed to delay payment until the case settles.
In summary, if you hire an experienced personal injury attorney such as myself, there are always options to ensure that you get the medical care that you need right away. Never feel pressured into settling early and for little money in order to pay your medical bills.