Hospital Bills After Car Accident

By : jasonneufeld Filed Under : car accident lawyer

What do I do with a hospital bill after a car accident?

hospital bill after car accident

As a car accident lawyer, I see this scenario play out time and time again: after a car accident, many of my clients will be transported to the closest emergency room by ambulance. In the hospital, they will be examined, and the doctor will recommend diagnostic imaging such as x-rays or a CT scan to rule out fractured vertebrae. Depending on the symptoms, the car accident victim may be referred and examined by specialists. Even if the person in the car crash is not admitted to the hospital, and released within a few hours, the hospital bill will usually be between $3,000 and $10,000 (could be less if the emergency room doctor believes the injury is minor and certainly much more if the injury is severe). Even if you have PIP insurance you will owe 20% of the ER bill and if you have health insurance, you may be subject to a deductible or co-insurance payment. This is one reason why, if you were not at-fault, you want to hire a car accident lawyer immediately. But that is not the subject of today’s post.

After our firm has been retained to represent someone in an auto accident (or slip and fall or any kind of personal injury case), we will submit a request to the hospital for the records and bills. Technically, once a medical provider knows that you are represented by an attorney, they should communicate only with that lawyer. Practically speaking, however, hospitals may outsource their billing to a 3rd party company and my clients sometimes start receiving bills anyway. Sometimes, the bills will say “due immediately” and threaten to put them into collections. In a panic, the client will bring that bill into my office and ask, “what do I do?” My clients are, justifiably, concerned about being put into collections and having their credit impacted by an outstanding medical bill.

You have a few options:

  1. Pay the Hospital Bill: This is the only way to guarantee that they will not put you into collections. The ER bill needs to be paid sooner or later. It either comes from you now, or from the settlement/judgment later (assuming there is a settlement or verdict in your favor). Hospitals rarely negotiate, so we will likely wind up paying them the same amount anyway. If you have the money to do so, paying the bill (and then providing proof to your car accident lawyer) is the best bet….if your personal-injury case reaches a favorable outcome, you will be reimbursed for this expense at the end of the case.
  1. Do Nothing: If NKP represents you, the ER likely already knows that we represent you by the time they send their first bill. If you are represented by another law firm, call your attorney and verify that they have notified the hospital that you are represented by counsel. Our firm has worked with every major hospital in South Florida, and they have never put one of my clients into collections (that I know of) because we always pay the bill after the case is resolved. That being said, no lawyer can control or guarantee what a hospital will do with your particular account – which is why, to be safe (if practical), Option #1 above is always the best.
  1. Call the billing number on the hospital bill and remind them that you are represented by an attorney in a pending personal injury case: Again, we will likely have already written to them, so this is duplicative, but it can sometimes bring my clients piece of mind to have an assurance from the horse’s mouth that the account will not be put into collections.

Your medical bills are always a valid concern and your personal injury lawyer should be willing to educate you about the personal-injury process. If you are represented by another personal-injury law firm, always call them first with your questions. If you are not represented and have been in a car accident or sustained any other injury due to the negligence of another – and have incurred medical bills – call us. We want to help.