Medical Bills and Car Accidents

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Medical Bills and Car Accidents

After a car accident, who pays your medical bills?

Despite all your caution on the roads, you were in a car accident. And even worse, you were injured in that accident. Now you have far more to worry about than the inconvenience of having your car in the shop and figuring out how to get around without it. You have doctors’ appointments, missed time from work, and mounting medical bills. And you’re wondering how you’re going to pay for it all.

You might be thinking that your insurance will cover the bills (up to your policy limits), but the truth is that it’s more complicated than that. Who pays for the personal injuries caused by a car accident depends on a number of different factors. Our car accident attorneys are here to walk you through the variables and help you determine the right course of action for your particular case.

Do you or the other party have car insurance?

Generally, medical bills from injuries caused by car accidents are paid for by car insurance companies, not medical insurance companies. Iowa requires drivers to take financial responsibility for accidents they cause, and for most people, carrying insurance is the simplest way to do this. However, even if you have insurance and have faithfully paid your premiums, your insurance company may not be eager to pay your claim. This leads to the next question.

Who’s at fault?

Iowa is an at-fault or “tort” state. This means, broadly, that the person who caused the accident is the person who pays for the damage. Sometimes who is at fault is clear-cut; other times, the parties disagree on who caused an accident and further investigations or even a lawsuit and trial are necessary to determine who is to blame for the accident. If your accident was caused by the other party, you could try to file a claim directly with their insurance company, or you could file a lawsuit.

What if neither party is completely at fault?

Life is complicated, and it’s not always true that one party completely caused an accident and the other is completely blameless. That’s why Iowa uses a “modified comparative negligence” system that assigns a portion of the fault to each party involved in the accident. The party who is most at fault pays both their own bills and a portion of the other party’s bills. So, for instance, if it’s determined that the accident you were in was 80% the other driver’s fault and 20% your fault, the other driver would pay 80% of your medical bills, lost wages, and other bills, and you’d be responsible for the other 20%. If both parties are equally at fault, each side pays their own bills and none of the other party’s.

How long has it been since the accident?

In Iowa, you only have two years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit for your personal injuries. (If you’re only seeking compensation for property damage, you have up to five years.) Even if you try to file an insurance claim first, the deadline won’t be extended. If it’s been more than two years - even if the other party is completely at fault - you are almost certainly out of luck. That’s why it’s so important to speak to a personal injury attorney as soon as you can after an accident.

These factors are only a few of the ones that will determine who will pay for your medical bills after an auto accident. The rest will depend on your specific case and can’t be covered in a post like this. Because of this, if you’ve recently been in an accident, we invite you to speak to the accident claims attorneys at Beattie Law Firm. Our firm can help you to understand your rights and protect them. We’ll keep filing deadlines in mind and work as hard as we can to help you receive the damages to which you are entitled. We are proud to serve car, motorcycle, and truck accidents in Des Moines, Knoxville, Ames, and the surrounding area, so if you’ve been in an accident, give us a call. We’re here to help.