Car accidents can result in serious, debilitating medical conditions, including broken bones, spinal cord damage, paralysis, and traumatic brain damage. If you suffer severe injuries in a car crash, you may need to undergo intensive treatment that could continue for years in the future.
This medical care requires adequate insurance and funds to pay for services the policy does not cover, but many car accident victims cannot afford to pay for these costs out-of-pocket. However, filing an insurance claim or lawsuit against the person responsible for the accident can help you recover the funds you need to heal from your injuries.
California’s Fault Insurance System
Like most states, California follows a fault-based insurance system. This means that any person who causes a car accident will need to pay for the damages of all of the victims involved in the crash, including other drivers, their passengers, and pedestrians. These damages include all past and future medical expenses for the injuries sustained in the accident.
To uphold this financial responsibility, all California drivers must carry the following minimum amounts of liability insurance. Policyholders can purchase higher amounts of coverage if they choose.
- $15,000 for bodily injury or death per person per accident
- $30,000 for total bodily injury or death per accident
- $5,000 for property damage per accident
If you are an accident victim, the fault insurance system provides three pathways to collecting compensation. You can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or your own insurance, if you have the right coverage. You can also file a personal injury lawsuit in civil court.
Typically, the insurance company overseeing the claim pays the settlements in these processes. If you are in an accident with an uninsured driver and do not have appropriate coverage through your own policy, the driver may carry the financial burden alone.
Paying for Medical Treatment Before a Settlement
After a car accident injury, auto insurance policies are supposed to pay for accident-related medical costs from the beginning. However, it can take a long time for your case to reach a conclusion. You may need to pay for your treatments as your medical bills accumulate, using your health insurance or medical payments coverage, if available.
Most health insurance policies will cover treatment for accident injuries, although the terms of your policy may vary. If your health insurance pays for your medical care first, the company will typically file a claim against the at-fault party’s insurance company for compensation. However, you may need to pay for deductibles, co-pays, and any treatment the policy does not cover. Your insurance or lawsuit settlement can reimburse you for these expenses; make sure to save every piece of evidence related to your medical care and the money you paid.
Medical payments coverage, or med pay, is a type of optional insurance coverage that can help you pay for your medical treatment after an accident up to a certain amount. California does not require this coverage, so you will need to purchase it separately. After you exceed your med pay policy limits, you will need to pay for your medical bills by yourself. If you do not have med pay, you will need to rely on your health insurance and personal funds to receive care.
Seeking medical care after an accident can be complex. If you need help finding treatment or understanding your legal rights, contact a California personal injury attorney. Your lawyer can assist you in receiving the care you need, understanding the compensation you qualify for, and filing your insurance claim or lawsuit.