How to Deal with Medical Bills after a Trucking Accident
Not only are trucking accidents one of the most devastating and deadly misfortunes that can happen to a person, but they’re also one of the most expensive. Of course, after a crash, money is usually the last thing on the mind of the victims or their family — more often, they’re concerned with their loved one’s medical care or, in too many cases, funeral arrangements and other final considerations.
As a family stricken by a truck crash attempts to move past grief and return to some semblance of normalcy, though, the enormous cost associated with these wrecks inevitably sets in. To get an idea of the financial hardship that victims face, consider the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s estimates for the financial impact of an average truck crash, including medical treatment, rehabilitation costs, and quality of life losses. Depending on the type of truck involved, these wrecks cost victims:
- $334,892 for a typical tractor-trailer truck crash in which at least one person is injured.
- $1.2 million for an injury-causing crash if the truck was pulling two or three trailers.
- $7.2 million for a fatal crash involving any type of truck.
If you live in a state with no-fault auto insurance, or if you have medical payment auto insurance coverage (also known as “med pay” coverage), your vehicle insurance may cover some of your medical bills. However, the limit of this coverage is usually $10,000 or less, which means that it’s not likely to cover all (or even most) of the costs associated with a typical large truck crash.
Insurance companies know that victims are suffering financially after a truck wreck and, unfortunately, they tend to take advantage of this fact during settlement talks. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a trucking crash, you may feel tempted to accept an initial settlement offer as bills begin to pile up. However, agreeing to a settlement that doesn’t truly address the long-term costs and losses from a truck crash will only put off your financial stresses for a while before they come back in force.
Thus, it’s important to consult with an experienced trucking attorney and work with them to pursue a settlement or judgment that fully compensates you for your losses, but that process often takes time, and the medical bills from a trucking accident pile up quickly — especially if you don’t have health insurance, and sometimes even if you do. So what are your options to address those costs in the short term?
First Things First: Document Your Medical Expenses
If you want to make sure that you and your family receive full compensation for the costs related to your trucking accident, the first step is documenting them in detail. Create a file with copies of all your medical bills and any other documentation of costs related to your crash, and keep a log of those costs you can match to the paperwork in your file. This way, you’ll make sure you don’t miss anything and can accurately document all your costs, which can be critically important during settlement negotiations or a trial if you want full compensation for everything you’ve gone through related to the crash.
Expenses that you should document include, but aren’t limited to:
- Emergency room, hospital, and doctor’s office visits.
- Any bills related to an extended hospital stay.
- Ambulance expenses.
- X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, and any other diagnostic tests.
- Physical therapy sessions and other ongoing rehabilitation.
- Prescription medicines and medical devices.
- Over-the-counter medications.
- Counseling and any other mental health services related to your accident.
- Transportation costs to and from your doctor’s appointments.
Besides medical bills and other expenses, you also need to keep a record of any changes the accident has created in your mental state, lifestyle, and overall well-being. If the crash that impacted your family has caused you to miss important family functions, give up hobbies, or experience fear and anxiety that inhibits your activities, write these things down. The law allows injury victims to receive compensation for their pain and suffering as well as documented costs, and all of these negative after-effects (and your records of them) may factor into that process.
What to Do about Mounting Medical Bills from a Truck Crash
If you or your loved one has been in a truck wreck and you have health insurance coverage, you should only have to worry about the deductibles, copays, and coinsurance associated with your plan, since the 2010 Affordable Care Act (or “Obamacare,” as it’s often called) made it illegal for health insurance companies to place lifetime or annual limits on essential benefits.
If you live in a no-fault insurance state, or if you have “med pay” coverage, your auto insurance will kick in immediately after the accident to pay for some of the initial health care expenses, including deductibles and copays — which is a great argument in favor of keeping med pay coverage on your auto insurance policy if you don’t live in a no-fault insurance state.
Keep in mind, however, that you’ll have to reimburse your insurance company for any medical bills they paid on your behalf if you receive a monetary settlement or award. This might seem unfair at first, but from a legal standpoint, the insurance company has already compensated you for those bills, which factored into the total amount of your recovery. Think of it as another reason why it’s important to work with an attorney and pursue a settlement or judgment that compensates you fully rather than accepting the first offer the insurance company puts in front of you.
If you don’t have insurance, things can be a lot tougher — at least in the short term. However, there are a few things you can do to make your crash-related medical bills more manageable:
- Negotiate with your medical care providers. Many doctors and hospitals work with accident victims on a regular basis and may be willing to offer you a payment plan or an option to put a “hold agreement” in place. A hold agreement means that the provider won’t refer your account to collections on the condition that you agree to pay your medical bills as soon as your claim is resolved.Doctors who specialize in treating accident victims are often familiar with the financial challenges they face and are willing to work with them regarding medical bills. An experienced vehicle accident attorney will usually have relationships with such medical professionals and can refer you to them.
- Find out whether you or your loved one qualifies for Medicaid. Medicaid is a federally-funded, state-run program that provides health insurance to people who are struggling financially. You can go to your local Medicaid office to find out whether you or your loved one qualifies for Medicaid after a trucking accident; if you do, Medicaid will pay your medical bills going forward and may even cover some of your past bills, depending on your state’s laws and regulations.
- Talk to an attorney. Attorneys who frequently handle vehicle accident cases may be able to help you to find medical financing that can cover some or all of your medical bills until you receive a settlement or judgment. They can also keep track of the costs associated with your injuries and losses in order to build a comprehensive picture of what you deserve to be compensated.
Contact the Truck Wreck Justice Team Today
If you or your someone you love has been hurt or even lost a loved one in a large truck or bus crash and medical bills are piling up, Truck Wreck Justice Attorney Morgan Adams is here to help. With years of experience and a sole focus on large vehicle cases, Morgan Adams has the experience and expert resources to act as your advocate and ally through every aspect of the process that surrounds a truck wreck injury claim.
Please contact Truck Wreck Justice at (866) 580-4878 or fill out our online contact form if you need help. We offer free initial consultations to assess your case and discuss your legal options, and we handle cases on a contingent fee basis, which means that you’ll only pay fees or case expenses if and when we achieve a monetary award or settlement on your behalf.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. (2008, December 8). Current FMCSA crash cost figures. Retrieved from https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/FMCSACrashCostCalculationsDec08.pdf