If you or a family member are injured in a car accident, seek immediate medical treatment. Your health should be your first priority, not who is going to foot the bill. Once you have determined the nature of your injuries and the adrenaline has worn off, you’ll need to determine who is going to pay the medical bills, assuming the hospital or your doctor hasn’t already figured this out for you.
Do not rely on the other driver’s insurance to pay your medical bills. If you give the hospital or your doctor the claims numbers for the at-fault driver’s insurance, you likely will get a call or letter stating that the bills are not being paid. The other driver’s insurance company has no obligation to pay your bills. Do not sign anything that the other insurance company gives you.
That said, you should first check YOUR car insurance policy to see if you have a type of coverage called Personal Injury Protection – commonly referred to as PIP coverage. Some insurance policies call this coverage “Med Pay” insurance. Both PIP and Med Pay will cover your medical bills and the bills for anyone riding in your car. This is fault-free coverage, meaning that your insurance rates will not go up for using it. You didn’t do anything wrong but the coverage is still there for you to use up to the maximum amount you purchased, usually either $10,000 or $35,000.
If you are in doubt, check with your insurance company to see if you have PIP. Washington law requires all insurance carriers to offer you PIP and also requires that you waive PIP in writing. Check your insurance cards and call the numbers to see if you have PIP.
If you do not have PIP, you will need to use your own private health insurance, whether that be from your employer, the government (including Medicare or Medicaid), or through a health savings plan. If you were on the job when the accident occurred (such as driving a company vehicle or a delivery job), you can likely use the Department of Labor and Industries or the workers compensation system to pay medical bills.
Call a car accident lawyer before you talk to any insurance companies. We have helped hundreds of people just like you navigate this strange and difficult world of insurance claims and would be happy to meet with you and your family if you are injured in a car accident caused by someone else or if your insurance company is refusing to live up to its obligations to you.
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Seattle, WA 98104