The physical pain and property damage of a car accident are stressful enough. However, if someone else is at fault but refusing to pay your medical expenses, you may be worried that the unpaid bills are damaging your credit. With the average claim for bodily injuries soaring to nearly $20,000, it’s a legitimate concern even if the injuries don’t include anything catastrophic, such as a brain injury or amputation.
How Medical Bills From an Accident Add Up
Medical providers use their knowledge and experience to take care of your injuries. The business office of the practice or hospital typically bills your health insurance. In a car accident, the provider may file a claim with your automobile insurance company. The claim is paid according to the provider’s contract with the insurance company, and the provider bills you for any remaining balance.
The medical facility typically expects to receive a payment within 90 days. If the bill isn’t paid, the administrators may turn the account over to collections. Generally, when it comes to the money owed to the facility, it does not matter to the provider whether someone else was at fault for the accident, whether you’re getting a structured settlement or waiting for court, or whether you are not able to pay the bill in full. The situation gets even more overwhelming when multiple hospitals, clinics, doctors, and specialists are involved, all filing claims with balances.
What’s Next When Medical Bills Go Unpaid
If the medical bill goes to a collection agency, that may show up on your credit report, affecting your credit score and your ability to get credit for other purposes for up to seven years. If you have different loans, those creditors can choose to raise your interest rates just because your score went down. Other adverse consequences exist, as well.
- The medical practice or the collection agency may sue you, which can drop your credit score even lower.
- The court may order that your wages are garnished.
- You may have to file for bankruptcy if you can’t pay the bills.
Even if you can pay the bills later, your credit may still not recover for years to come.
How to Get Help
If you are in an accident and someone else is at fault, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible to help you avoid these unpleasant circumstances. Sometimes you can pay the bills yourself and get reimbursed by the other party, but that may not be practical if the bills are enormous. An attorney knows how to work with medical providers and may be able to help you keep the accounts out of collections. Contact a personal injury lawyer in Melbourne, FL, like Arcadier, Biggie & Wood, PLLC to have your questions answered.