Where can I get help with medical bills after a car accident in California?

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David S. Galperson - Workers' Compensation - Super Lawyers

Answered by: David S. Galperson

Located in Los Angeles, CARose Klein & Marias LLP

Los Angeles, CA
Phone: 213-626-0571
Fax: 213-623-7755

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Medical treatment is expensive. After a serious car accident, you may be unable to work. Surgeries, transportation to and from treatment, physical therapy and other expenses may be adding up. It is tempting to take an insurance company’s first offer, even if it is less than you need and deserve, to get money quickly. This is just what insurers are hoping for.

Fortunately, there are ways to pay for medical care without giving up your rights. In fact, it is extremely important to stand up to insurance companies to get a full and fair settlement.

Below are the various ways insurance can pay for your medical care.  

1. Pursuing compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance

You can pursue compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Because California is a fault state, your own insurance company can wait to see who was at fault before they pay for your property damage (vehicle repairs) and medical bills.

Insurance companies may try to argue who caused the accident. Your attorney can help you gather evidence and make your case. If necessary, your attorney can represent you in court so a jury can establish who was at fault.

2. When the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance

The law requires every driver to carry a minimum amount of car insurance. If the driver who hit you is illegally driving without insurance or is underinsured, you may be able to seek compensation from your own insurance company under your uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM). California requires you to have this insurance, so your current auto policy should cover this cost. The UM/UIM claim is made to your own insurance company. Just because it involves your own insurance company, however, doesn’t mean the insurer is on your side; you will have to fight for a fair settlement regardless.

3. Med Pay

Medical pay benefits coverage, or Med Pay, is an additional policy that drivers in California may choose to purchase. It is not mandatory, unlike in many other states, where it is known as personal injury protection coverage (PIP coverage). This coverage pays for necessary and reasonable medical bills arising out of an accident, regardless of fault.

However, insurance companies often include exclusions in their policy. For example, your insurance company may have a time frame in which the medical care can begin. Your attorney can help you understand your Med Pay insurance and what you need to do in order to file a claim.   

4. Getting the full amount means gathering the right documentation

Once you’ve established what kind of insurance will help you with medical bills, you still need to make sure you get your expenses covered. The insurance company is not likely to offer you as much as you need in an initial settlement; they are trying to get the claim finished with as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Your attorney can help you gather and keep medical evidence of your injury so it is clear how badly you are injured. Your attorney can also help you understand what expenses insurance should cover and when insurance companies are making a reasonable offer.

It is important that you fully understand how much you need and where you can pursue compensation prior to accepting an offer from an insurance company.  

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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