If you’ve been in a wreck, you’re likely rattled and upset. Still, you know one of the most important things to do after an accident is to seek needed medical care. Even if you feel okay, your adrenaline is pumping and you know it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.

You’re about to agree to an ambulance ride when a big warning sign flashes in your head. Is this ride to the hospital going to saddle you with a massive bill? Ambulance trips can cost thousands of dollars, after all.

While the choice of whether to go to the hospital is yours in the example above, there are many types of accidents where the victim will have no say on if they go to a hospital, how far they have to go to get to the hospital, and which ambulance provider will fulfill the service. Unfortunately, all of these factors can affect the cost of the ambulance to you.

Once the health crisis is over, the financial questions can be their own emergency. So who pays for the ambulance in a car accident?

Who Pays? It Depends on Who Is At Fault

The question of who pays for an ambulance after an accident is heavily dependent on one big factor: who was at fault in the crash.

If You’re At Fault

If you’re responsible for the wreck, your best bet can be coverage through your car insurance. Even if ambulance coverage is not part of your primary coverage, you may have optional coverage called MedPay. This is no-fault coverage that can cover your medical expenses after an accident, up to the MedPay policy limits. Your health insurance may also provide coverage for ambulance expenses.

If You’re Not At Fault

If you’re not at fault for the wreck, the at-fault driver (or more likely, their insurer) should compensate you for all your harms and losses. You wouldn’t have needed an ambulance ride if not for the negligence of the other driver. And ambulance fees are directly related to the accident. Therefore, you shouldn’t have to foot the bill (though the at-fault insurer may not accept your insurance claim without a fight).

Tip: If you want to try to expedite payment, you may be able to file a claim for coverage through your health insurance. Then, your health insurer may pursue reimbursement from the at-fault insurer.

Should You Use Car Insurance or Health Insurance?

If you have both health insurance coverage for ambulance costs and MedPay coverage through your car insurance policy, your car insurance coverage is typically preferable. That’s because deductibles and copays can be quite high on health insurance policies before true coverage kicks in.

You may not have a choice in the matter. Even if your health insurance covers ambulance expenses, you may be required to go through your car insurance as primary coverage, with your health insurance as secondary for any excess coverage needed.

Can You Wait to Pay the Ambulance Bill Until Your Case Is Over?

No and yes. You don’t want to just ignore the bill. If you don’t pay the bill, a county or municipal ambulance provider can place a lien on your home or property. If you sell your home or property, a portion of the proceeds must go to the ambulance provider. In addition, under North Carolina law, your wages and income can be garnished.

Instead, a lien arrangement with the ambulance provider may be the optimal solution. Under a lien arrangement, the ambulance provider will agree to defer billing for now and receive payment from any future settlement you receive. Negotiating a lien is something an attorney can help you with.

Even simple questions can have complicated answers. And even seemingly straightforward answers can have lots of little complications. Fighting unexpected complications (and the insurance company) is one of many great reasons to hire an attorney.

If you’ve been hurt in a wreck due to the negligence of another, one of our attorneys can evaluate your case for free. We can take the legal burden off your shoulders while you focus on getting better. Call 1-866-900-7078 today!

Red EMERGENCY sign marks the exterior of the green domed entrance of a beige stone hospital

There can be a lot to deal with after a car accident – doctor visits, car repairs, insurance claims. It can be overwhelming to many. In this article, I will answer one of the questions I hear most often from car accident victims: Who pays the medical bills in a car accident?

The answer to the question varies depending on many factors, and I will address several of the most common ones below. As a North Carolina car accident attorney, I have represented many car accident victims and have witnessed firsthand much confusion and worry about how medical bills are paid after a car accident. So, let’s alleviate some of that worry, and focus on the facts here.

Who Pays Your Medical Bills if the Other Driver Was Responsible for the Accident?

If another person negligently caused the car accident that you were injured in, the at-fault driver is responsible for your medical bills. In North Carolina, drivers are required to purchase a minimum level of bodily liability coverage ($30,000 per person and $60,000 per accident) in car insurance to pay for the other party’s medical expenses when they are at fault for the wreck.

However, the insurance company will not pay these bills unless a settlement has been reached (or a verdict is reached if the case goes to trial), and this can take weeks, months, or even longer. But you are still responsible for paying these bills as they come in.

In order to pay the doctors, hospitals, ambulance services, and other medical expenses in a timely manner, you may have to submit your medical expenses to your own health insurance company first (or to Medicare or Medicaid, if you have it), and then reimburse these organizations from any future settlement.

Also, if you have MedPay auto insurance coverage, which is optional in North Carolina, it may cover out-of-pocket health care-related costs (such as health care deductibles or co-pays) and other medical expenses for you and other occupants of your car.

Who Pays for Medical Bills After a Car Accident That You Caused?

If you were found to be responsible for the car accident, the bodily liability portion of your car insurance helps pay for the medical expenses of the other driver and passengers. MedPay insurance, if you have it, can also cover the medical bills of you and your passengers when you are at fault for the car accident.

You would also rely on your own health insurance to pay your medical expenses.

Does Contributory Negligence Affect Who Pays the Medical Bills After a Car Accident?

It certainly can! North Carolina is one of the few states that still follows the legal doctrine of contributory negligence which states that individuals who are found to be even partially responsible for an accident (even just 1%) may not be entitled to any compensation.

For example, if you were in car accident in which another driver hit you when you were making a left turn, and you were found to be partially responsible for the accident by the insurance company, they may cite contributory negligence and deny you compensation for your claim.

Some insurance companies may spend a lot of time investigating your accident in an attempt to determine if you were partially at fault, in order to try to avoid paying for your medical expenses. That is why you may need to file with your own health insurance to pay your medical bills in a timely manner and then seek reimbursement when any settlement is finalized.

A black stethoscope sits on top of health insurance application forms spread over a white table topWho Pays Your Medical Bills if the At-fault Driver Has No Insurance or Doesn’t Have Enough Insurance?

Even though bodily liability coverage is required of all drivers in North Carolina, there are drivers who do not carry it. And unfortunately, these drivers sometimes cause wrecks. In response to this, NC requires all drivers to purchase uninsured motorist (UM) coverage as part of their auto insurance policies. Your UM coverage can pay for medical bills for you, your family members, or any passengers in your car if you are hit by an uninsured driver. In North Carolina, the minimum required UM amount is $30,000.

Many drivers in North Carolina also choose to purchase optional underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage which can be used to cover medical expenses that exceed the at-fault driver’s auto insurance. In NC, the minimum amount of UIM coverage is $50,000, and the maximum is $1,000,000.

How Are Medical Bills Paid After a Car Accident if You Don’t Have Health Insurance?

If you don’t have health insurance and are injured in a wreck, you may not be able to pay for your medical treatment until after you receive a possible settlement. And settlements can take a long time since accident victims often have to wait until the doctor declares that they have reached maximum medical improvement (MMI) before their claims can be pursued. What happens then?

Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other medical service providers can claim a medical lien under North Carolina law if you can’t pay their bills. This lien gives them the right to compensation for medical services provided to you in any settlement or court verdict after your accident. I advise you to consult with an attorney about whether or not you should ask your medical provider to accept a medical lien as a payment plan option.

How Can the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin Help You With Your Medical Expenses?

In a car accident, who pays the medical bills is an important question. I have covered several answers to versions of this question in this article, but I urge you to reach out to a personal injury attorney for guidance as soon after the accident as possible. Every accident is different, but all victims should fight for justice and compensation.

At the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin, we have helped more than 60,000 injured people since we opened our doors in 1997. There are many ways we can try to help with your medical expenses, such as:

  • Seeking compensation from the at-fault driver’s car insurance company
  • Advising on medical or hospital liens
  • Providing guidance on how to strategically pay your medical bills (which bills to pay first, which can be paid after the case is resolved, which bills get submitted to health insurance or MedPay, etc.)
  • Negotiating with medical providers and health insurance companies to try to reduce reimbursement requests

Call us today at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online for a free case evaluation. Let us help you.

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Effects of a Car Crash on the Human Body

One minute, you’re driving along the highway on your daily commute to work. The next, you’re laying roadside after being tossed from your vehicle in a high-impact collision. Your body lies motionless. Or does it?

A lot can happen to your body in a short period of time during a car crash. Much of it you may not even be aware of. Many assume that the effects of a car crash on the human body are only those you can see externally, but in reality there’s an internal crash of your body’s organs that can be just as debilitating.

Let’s break down the anatomy of a car crash…

Step 1: Metal Hits MetalFirst metal hits metal when two cars are involved in a crash.

Depending on the vehicles involved and the nature of the collision, this can come in many different forms. The severity of damages to the car will ultimately depend on the speed and size of the involved vehicles.

Cars are built to take on collisions and to try to protect drivers and passengers as much as possible. The nose of the car is often referred to as the “crumple zone” and is designed to absorb some of the shock and energy from a crash. However, there is only so much your vehicle can shield you from…

Step 2: Body Hits MetalSecond metal hits the body of the passengers during a car crash.

After the car has taken all it can, the body will start to feel the effects of the crash. This stage is the one that you will feel directly. The kinetic energy unabsorbed by your car’s exterior will now transfer to your body and force it into motion.

The motion could be restrained by a seatbelt or airbag, or the force could cause your body to collide with other parts of the car – often the window or steering wheel. In serious incidents, the body could be entirely ejected from the vehicle, leading to the next stage of the collision. However, even if the movement is controlled by safety features, further injuries are still possible.

Step 3: Internal Organs Keep MovingOrgans can continue to shift and move after impact in a car accident.

The third step in the anatomy of a car crash is the calm after the storm. When your body has finally come to rest after a crash, you may think you are lying very still. But you are not.

Your internal organs continue to bump into each other even after you have stopped moving.

We’ve all learned Newton’s law that “an object at motion tends to stay in motion.” This law is especially applicable to human bodies when suddenly jolted into high motion situations. Despite the fact that there is only so far your physical body can be tossed, the internal organs will continue to move toward the point of impact until all energy is absorbed.

During a car wreck, the human body naturally goes into an instinctive survival mode. Both adrenaline and endorphins are released as a reaction to the shock. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that act as natural pain relievers when released. That’s why you may not feel the internal pain immediately.

In other words, the effects of a car crash on the human body can include your body convincing you that you’re OK.

Even if a body appears to have escaped a car crash uninjured, there’s a strong possibility that internal organs could be torn, bruised, or bleeding.

How to Stay Safe

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has found that seat belts save about 15,000 lives each year. Frontal air bags save almost 2,000 more each year on average.

While car crashes can be unpredictable and unavoidable, it is important to take the necessary precautions to limit the injuries, both internal and external, caused by a car wreck. Buckle up and familiarize yourself with the proper use of an airbag to try to lessen the severity of any potential injuries.

Finally, be alert while on the roads.

North Carolina Personal Injury Attorneys Evaluate Your Case for FREE

If you have been in an auto accident, don’t wreck twice. The car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin can fight for you and try to get you the maximum compensation you potentially deserve. Call us at 1-866-900-7078 or contact us online.

P.S. Here are a few good reasons why to choose our car accident attorneys

Tire Tread Depth Safety Standard May Be Too Low

You know your tires are responsible for getting you from A to B. But how much do you really know about the safety of those four wheels under your vehicle? Here are some surprising facts uncovered in a new AAA study about tire safety and tread depth.

Tires are the only point of contact between vehicles and the road. Every safety and control system in the vehicle relies on the ability of the car’s tires to maintain adequate traction. That is why safety guidelines are imposed on how worn vehicle tires can be before they are considered illegal to drive on.

According to the North Carolina Consumers Council, your tires are your most critical safety component.

The agency states that tires with a tread depth of 2/32” or less will not pass state safety inspections. Tires with tread below this threshold are known to be insufficient for a vehicle’s needs, especially in wet conditions.

However, a new study by AAA suggests that even tires that are within our state’s limits are more dangerous than people may realize.

How Safe Is the 2/32” Tire Depth Minimum?

AAA found that a tread depth of even 4/32”, twice as deep as the state standard for replacement, was measurably unsafe.

The agency conducted tests on wet roads at speeds of 60 mph to compare the stopping ability of brand new tires versus those with a tread depth of 4/32”.

The tests discovered that, compared to new tires, those with a tread depth of 4/32” increased stopping distance by 43% – which means another 87 feet of stopping distance for cars. Put another way, the point at which the new tires reach a complete stop, the worn tires continue to travel at speeds of nearly 40 mph. No matter how hard you hit the brakes; your tires will keep traveling and could potentially cause a collision.

If you think buying more expensive tires is the answer, AAA has a caveat about that. The study found that tread depth had a much larger influence on tire performance than the cost of the tires. Worn tire performance for the most expensive all-season tires did not perform significantly better than the less expensive all-season tires in the study.

Precautionary Measures & Tire Tread Depth

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that one in every 11 crashes involved an issue with a tire prior to the accident.

So what can you do to help try to keep your tires up to par?

  • Inform yourself of the functions and proper maintenance of your tires. Take matters into your own hands and stay up to date with information on tire safety.
  • Test your own tire depth using a quarter. Turn the quarter upside down and place it in the tread; if you can see anything above the top of Washington’s hair, it is time to change the tire.
  • Don’t wait to change your tires. Change them before they reach a tread depth of 4/32” instead of waiting until they reach the state-mandated minimum of 2/32”.

AAA notes that the 2/32” minimum may provide benefits in the form of lower warranty costs for manufacturers, but the human cost could be too high to ignore.

Get a Free Case Evaluation from North Carolina Car Crash Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a car accident due to the at-fault driver’s worn tires (or for any other reason) contact us today or call 1-866-900-7078 for a free case evaluation.

Learn more about the formidable team of car accident attorneys at the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin who stand ready to fight for you.

N.C. Police Target Aggressive Drivers in Ghost Cruisers

North Carolina police ghost cruiser carsMost drivers view aggressive driving as a serious or extremely serious risk that puts everyone’s safety in jeopardy. They are right, of course, but that doesn’t stop many from doing it, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Recently, authorities in North Carolina committed to cracking down on this issue by investing in “ghost cars.” CBS North Carolina reports that these cars don’t look like your typical marked cruisers, as you can see from this WBTV NC photo.

The cruisers do have markings, but their graphics and decals are barely visible during daylight hours, allowing law enforcement officers to blend in with the rest of traffic. People are on their best behavior when they spot a police cruiser, the logic goes. The goal with ghost cars is to address aggressive driving habits, like speeding, tailgating, and unsafe lane changes by putting motorists on notice that police may be in the midst.

North Carolina law defines aggressive driving as careless or heedless operation of a vehicle in a manner that willfully or wantonly disregards the rights and safety of other drivers. To prove a violation, officers need to show an offender committed two or more of the following:

  • Running a red light
  • Running a stop sign
  • Passing illegally
  • Failing to yield right-of-way
  • Following too closely

A violation is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor – a charge that may betray the severity of impact these actions can have on innocent passengers and other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists.

One study published in the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention revealed that aggressive driving tends to increase the severity of traffic crashes.

Recovering Damages After an Aggressive Driving Accident

In some cases after an aggressive driving accident the involved parties may find themselves tempted to argue with the other driver. On the other hand, others may sometimes feel compelled to apologize. However, our North Carolina accident attorneys would urge drivers involved in any crash to neither blame nor apologize after any kind of car crash. Instead, a polite exchange of insurance and driver’s license information as well as contact information of potential witnesses is in order. Also, if you are injured, seek immediate medical attention. Click here for steps to take after you’ve been involved in a car crash.

A person who is injured and plans to file a North Carolina car accident lawsuit for damages will have to prove negligence. Your attorney will need to show:

  • Defendant owed a duty of care (in this case, to safely operate a motor vehicle)
  • Defendant breached that duty (by failing to safely operate a motor vehicle)
  • Defendant driver’s actions were the actual and proximate cause of plaintiff’s injuries
  • Plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result of the crash

N.C. Car Wreck Lawyers Offer FREE Case Evaluation

Aggressive driving behaviors are undoubtedly a breach of a motorist’s duty. However, proving it sometimes can be challenging, and this is why we encourage injured parties to seek legal counsel from an experienced North Carolina personal injury attorney.

If aggressive driving has led to a serious accident resulting in personal injury, we can help you explore your legal options.

Contact us for a free case evaluation to see if we can help or call us at 1-866-900-7078.