What To Do If Car Insurance Doesn’t Cover Your Accident Costs
What if Car Insurance Doesn’t Cover Costs?
After a car crash, bills mount up rapidly. Your vehicle may be totaled or need major repairs, and your medical bills may be astronomical. If you have had serious injuries, you will have expenses for an ambulance, emergency room and hospitals, diagnostic tests, medications, and doctor and surgical bills. Then you may have recurring bills for future treatments and rehabilitation that could go on for years.
If your limited-tort insurance is not enough to pay your bills, or if you are in the midst of the claim process or litigation and have not yet received a settlement, you will have to find other ways to pay your costs. Options include:
1. Health Insurance
If you have public, private or employer-sponsored health insurance, most policies will pay your medical bills after your deductible and co-payments. Some insurers will want to recover what they have paid for you out of your settlement check and may take out a lien on your settlement if the other driver or their insurance company is liable for the damages.
2. Outside Pre-Settlement Funding
The following are some ways to meet your costs after an accident or while waiting for a settlement:
- If auto and health insurance is not enough, you can apply for government assistance or ask for loans from family or friends.
- An attorney can provide a letter of protection for your doctors stating that treatment you receive now will be paid for once you obtain your settlement.
- There are pre-settlement finance companies that provide loans to help with bills after an accident as a cash advance on your future settlement. However, these loans may carry interest rates as high 50 percent to make up for the risk of your not getting your settlement.
- Consult a car accident attorney to discuss your individual situation and options so that you can make choices that best suit your case.
While Pennsylvania law requires drivers to carry at least $5,000 worth of medical benefits that pays medical bills after an accident, regardless of who was at fault, this minimum doesn’t go far. According to AAA, the average cost of an injury crash in the United States in 2009 was more than $125,000, while the average cost of a fatal accident was closer to $6 million. Even if you have medical insurance, co-payments and deductibles can add up quickly.
If you are dealing with a lawsuit against an at-fault driver, the settlement process can’t even begin until your medical treatment is finished. And the more complicated your case and the more serious your injuries, the longer it takes to settle, as the cost of the medical treatment will figure into your settlement.
So what do you do if your car insurance doesn’t cover the cost of your accident? If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash, you should start by consulting an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. If another party’s negligence or responsibility was involved in the accident, you may be entitled to receive financial compensation to cover your medical expenses, lost wages, property loss, and pain and suffering.
However, your case must be handled correctly and competently, or you may never collect the compensation you are entitled to.
Insurance Laws in Pennsylvania
Drivers in Pennsylvania have the option of choosing between “full tort” and no-fault “limited tort” coverage. For limited tort, your own insurance company should pay for all reasonable and appropriate forms of medical care, up to the limits of your policy. However, you are prohibited from suing unless the accident resulted in “serious injury.
If your injury allows you to go beyond the no-fault limitation or if you have the more traditional “full tort” coverage, you have the option to sue the driver whose negligence caused your injury.