If you have been injured by a negligent driver in a traffic accident in Massachusetts, you are entitled by law to full compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, and more.
However, filing a personal injury claim to obtain the compensation you need can be the start of a lengthy process – usually months, but sometimes a year or more – and if you have no health insurance, your healthcare providers may insist on being paid somewhat more promptly. This is where a Boston car accident lawyer can help.
Without health insurance coverage, how can you pay your medical bills and related expenses until your personal injury case is resolved? Keep reading for some answers. You’ll also learn more about your compensation rights in this state if you’ve been injured by a negligent motorist.
AFTER AN ACCIDENT, WHO PAYS?
In Massachusetts, even if another driver was at-fault and seriously injured you in a traffic collision, that person cannot be compelled to pay your medical bills. You are the only person who can be held legally responsible for your medical expenses.
You can recover those costs – later – with a successful personal injury claim, and that is, in fact, the only way to compel a negligent driver to compensate you. What, then, are your payment options while your personal injury claim is pending – if you have no health insurance?
Here are some payment options that you might find helpful:
1. no-fault auto insurance
2. Med Pay
4. arranging a payment plan with healthcare providers
HOW CAN NO-FAULT AUTO INSURANCE HELP YOU?
If you do not have health insurance in Massachusetts, and you are a driver involved in a traffic collision, your own automobile insurance in Massachusetts will pay for at least $2,000 and potentially up to $8,000 of your medical bills, without regard to which driver was at-fault.
If you are a passenger who has been injured in a traffic crash in this state, and if you have no health insurance:
1. Your own Massachusetts no-fault auto insurance policy may apply. If you have no automobile insurance, a relative that you live with may, and that policy may apply.
2. If you have no health insurance, and no relative in your household has auto insurance, the owner of the vehicle you were riding in should have a policy that will apply, and if not, the driver of the vehicle you were in (if different from the owner) may have coverage.
WHAT IS “MED PAY” COVERAGE? WILL MEDICAID BE AVAILABLE?
If you choose to have additional “Med Pay” coverage added to your auto insurance policy – and it’s a good idea – then you will have additional insurance benefits to pay for your medical expenses after your no-fault coverage is exhausted.
If you do not have Med Pay coverage, but the at-fault driver does, that coverage should pay your medical bills up to the policy’s limit, which can be as little as $5,000 or as much as $25,000.
Medicaid is a federally-funded, state-managed health insurance program offered to persons with low incomes.
If you are injured, and if you lose your job or your health insurance because of your injury, you may be eligible for Medicaid benefits. If you qualify, Medicaid may pay some or even all of your medical bills.
CAN YOU ARRANGE A PAYMENT PLAN?
Many healthcare professionals who routinely treat accident victims understand that serious accidents and injuries can happen to anyone, and they are often willing to work with accident victims by offering helpful payment options.
In fact, some healthcare professionals will provide treatment and agree to wait for payment until the patient is compensated with a personal injury settlement or a jury verdict.
Usually, in this circumstance, the healthcare provider will ask you to sign a personal injury lien, which is then sent to your personal injury attorney. A lien is a legal contract that compels the lawyer to pay the healthcare provider before the injury victim actually receives compensation.
WHAT STEPS SHOULD YOU TAKE WHEN YOU’RE INJURED?
Obtaining medical attention is always the immediate and uppermost priority after any injury, without regard to how the injury happened or who may have been responsible.
If you’ve been in a traffic crash and you don’t “feel” injured, you still should have a medical exam within 24 hours to ensure that you’ve suffered no latent or hard-to-detect injuries.
Whether or not you have health insurance, if you are injured by another driver’s negligence in a vehicle accident in Massachusetts, as soon as you’ve been treated by a healthcare professional, take your case directly to a skilled personal injury attorney.
WHAT WILL IT COST TO LEARN MORE?
If you are concerned about your medical bills, you can relax about any legal costs. Your first consultation with a Massachusetts personal injury lawyer is free. You’ll learn more about your rights and how the law applies to your own case.
Additionally, you will not pay anything upfront if you and your attorney move forward with legal action. Accident attorneys work on a contingent fee basis – so you pay no attorneys’ fee until and unless the attorney wins a settlement or verdict on your behalf.
A qualified Boston personal injury attorney will launch an immediate investigation into the accident, examine the evidence and witnesses, and determine which party or parties may have liability.
IN WHAT OTHER WAYS WILL YOUR ATTORNEY HELP?
Your attorney – who is an experienced negotiator – will also negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf. Do not make any statement to the insurance company, sign any insurance document, or accept a quick settlement, even if you feel pressure to pay medical bills.
A quick settlement offer is almost always a low settlement offer. Let your attorney negotiate instead for the full compensation you need and deserve.
Most personal injury cases are settled outside of the courtroom when attorneys for both sides meet privately, but if no acceptable settlement offer is made, your attorney may recommend taking the case to trial and asking a jury to compensate you.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF THE MEDICAL BILLS START PILING UP?
Your accident attorney will also see to it that you are getting the medical treatment you need. A skilled accident lawyer can offer invaluable advice and insights to a personal injury victim.
If another person injures you through negligence, you shouldn’t have to fear that you can’t afford medical treatment. In Massachusetts, the law is on your side, and compensation is your right.
And as mentioned previously, your first legal consultation with a Massachusetts accident attorney is free. If you’ve been injured by negligence in this state, and if the medical bills are mounting, get that legal advice immediately. That is your right.
Eric J. Parker, the Managing Partner of Parker Scheer LLP, has over 30 years’ experience representing victims in complex personal injury cases. He is active in many legal associations and has won many awards for performance and principles. Eric believes in giving back to the community and supports young scholars and law students by acting as faculty and mentor to them.