If a valid claim exists due to a California accident that was not your fault, a lawsuit is usually not necessary if you accept the insurance carrier’s determination of what the claim is worth at some future date. Thus, if you agree with the at-fault insurance carrier on how much your case is worth in terms of settlement value then you will be able to settle the claim fairly quickly and with ease; however, to this end, the at-fault carrier will often intentionally undervalue the claim in an effort to save the money it has to pay out.
In regards to your ongoing medical bills, the at-fault carrier typically will not want to pay for on-going medical treatment unless it can settle the claim in full in one global settlement. The insurance carrier knows that if it agrees to on-going payments to your healthcare providers, then the injury claim will likely drag on while the total value of the claim continues to rise (generally, the more treatment received the higher the value the claim). Thus, the at-fault insurance carrier usually wants to pay just one global sum to settle the claim so it can be done with it, and the file can be closed (usually the sooner the better). By making a one-time lump sum payment, the claim is closed and the carrier’s exposure to paying out more later is terminated. This benefits the insurance company.
In regards to paying an accident victim’s medical bills, there is a specific type of auto coverage that will do this and it is called “Medical Pay, or "Medical." California law does not make this type of coverage mandatory and as a result, not everybody has this coverage on their auto policy. This type of coverage is “no-fault” meaning that you’re entitled to this coverage regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
If you do not have California Medical Pay or private health insurance coverage, then you have a legal responsibility to pay your healthcare provider(s) or make some arrangement for payment as a result. Your healthcare provider does not care whether another person caused the accident or not, they simply want to get paid promptly, and if it was for emergency care, California law gives this medical provider "priority" under the law to get paid.
At my law firm, I can often work out an arrangement with the healthcare provider to wait for payment, but this occurs on a case-by-case basis. It really is up to your healthcare provider on whether they want to wait or not until the end of your case. For example, a number of city fire departments in the San Diego, California area will usually wait to get paid until your case settles. Sometimes a small payment plan is requested in order to stop the medical bills from going into collections. The alternative is to file a lawsuit against you for non-payment, but this is rare since they know that this costs more money and delay, we can often use these facts to persuade the healthcare provider to avoid a lawsuit and wait for payment until the client’s claim concludes. In all situations, as every case is different, do not ignore any collection letters from your healthcare provider. You should contact them and let them know you have a personal injury claim and that it is only a matter of time before they get paid. If you have hired my law firm, then also inform us of any collection notices immediately so we can contact your healthcare provider on your behalf.
More Legal Questions About Car & Motorcycle Accidents?
Do you have more legal questions about car & motorcycle accident cases? Return to theAuto & Motorcycle accidents in California Frequently Asked Legal Questions page.