If your accident was caused by the driver of a car or truck, you would think their insurance company should pay your bills, right? After all, that driver was responsible, not you. But in North Carolina, most of the time that is not how it works right when you most need the payment.
First, the other driver’s insurance company most likely isn’t going to pay your bills unless you agree in advance how much they will be, and you sign a release of all your claims against the other driver. Doing that when you are first injured could cause you to give up important rights and usually is not wise.
If you have health insurance, this is usually the time to use it. Yes, it’s your insurance and someone else caused the injury, but your North Carolina health insurance provider can’t refuse to pay your bills because someone else caused your injury. They may want to be paid back later if you get a settlement or a verdict against the other driver, but that is a question for another blog post! Right now you need treatment and that is what health insurance is for.
If you were injured at work, then it’s different, and your employer or its insurance carrier should be paying for your medical treatment. If your workers’ compensation claim is denied, again, there is your health insurance to tide you over.
The best thing to have, though, is medical payments coverage on your own auto insurance policy. Take a look at the declaration sheet on your auto policy. It will list how much you have in medical insurance coverage, and you should buy as much of this coverage as you can afford. And it’s not expensive. This insurance pays you the amount of your medical bills, after you submit the bills to the company, regardless whether you have health insurance or not. Here’s how it works.
Our former client Michael (not his real name) bought $100,000 of medical payments coverage when he first bought car insurance years ago. Every year he renewed that coverage, even though he could have bought much less. One day out of the blue Michael was rear-ended by someone not paying attention, and that caused a neck injury that made him permanently paralyzed from the neck down. No use of his arms or legs. Of course this was devastating for him and his young family.
But at least, in the face of this horror, Michael’s family was able to keep him at home instead of putting him in a nursing home. How? The $100,000 paid to enlarge his bedroom, put in a ramp, and install a lift with ceiling track that could take him to the bathroom. He needed a nurse in the home 24 hours a day, which his excellent health insurance was able to provide. But without that $100,000 of “medpay” as we call it, he never would have been able to stay at home, causing more disruption to his already stressed family.
Of course every case is different, and this is intended as a general guide. If you need legal advice about your specific insurance needs, you should not hesitate to talk to a Durham car accident attorney. Most lawyers who handle personal injury and workers’ compensation claims will talk to you at least once free of charge.