If you are in an auto accident, you may be responsible for covering your medical expenses upfront. However, you may pursue the other driver’s insurance to receive compensation for your medical bills. The settlement process may take several months, which is why you are liable for your expenses upfront. Medical facilities are businesses, and in order to stay in operation, they must receive compensation for services rendered.
What are my Options if I don’t have Health Insurance?
Payment Plan / Cash Price:
Some providers will work with their patients and set up a payment plan for medical bills. However, if you fail to make payments, your credit score will be negatively impacted. You should ask these facilities about their cash prices, as medical providers may offer discounts if you pay in cash.
If your auto insurance, or the at-fault driver’s insurance, contains a med pay provision, you can use it to pay for a portion of your medical bills. Med pay coverage typically doesn’t exceed $10,000. If you exceed the med pay limit, the rest of your expenses will be paid out of pocket.
Medicaid is a governmental program that applies only to parties that have been severely injured and can no longer work; resulting in significant financial instability. Once you return to work and recover your financial standing, your coverage will likely end.
You may want to file a personal lawsuit if your case involves serious personal injury. You should seek legal help if you have extremely severe injuries, the at-fault driver was impaired, or you sustained permanent disfigurement.
If you pursue a lawsuit, many medical institutions will treat you under the presumption that they will be reimbursed. In this case, you must sign a lien agreement. This means the medical facility will receive a portion of your settlement as reimbursement.
Duty to Preserve Life:
Hospitals must render life-saving care regardless of the financial situation of the patient. If you have suffered a serious injury, you should seek medical treatment immediately.
What are my Options if I don’t have Auto Insurance?
In short, it depends on your state of residency. Some states do not require drivers to have auto insurance; in others, having no insurance will limit your ability to file a claim; and in some, you will be criminally penalized.
There are two states that do not require drivers to have auto insurance, they are Virginia and New Hampshire. In Virginia, to waive your auto insurance responsibility, you must pay the state DMV $500. However, if you are in an accident and are at-fault, you must pay all damages; and may have your license suspended. If the other driver is at fault, you may file a third-party claim with their insurance. This claim may cover the damage or injuries caused by the at-fault driver. However, if the other driver is at-fault and doesn’t have auto insurance they must pay your expenses out of pocket.
In many states driving without auto insurance will result in criminal penalties. This penalty will either be a hefty fine, the revocation or suspension of your license, or jail time. If the other driver pursues a lawsuit against you, you will be financially responsible to cover all damages. You will also be responsible to cover lawyer fees if you choose to hire one.
No Pay, No Play:
There are certain restrictions in some states as to what you can recover from another driver if you are uninsured. This rule exists for the purpose of equity. As it wouldn’t be “fair” for a driver who doesn’t pay insurance to reap all the benefits of it. The states are outlined below:
Drivers with severe personal injury, may not pursue the at-fault driver for non-economic damages. Unless the at-fault party displayed recklessness, acted with specific intent, fled the scene, or drove intoxicated,
Drivers cannot pursue the other driver for non-economic damages if the driver seeking compensation drove intoxicated, or uninsured at the time of the accident, or if they cannot prove financial responsibility as per the state tort requirement. If the at-fault driver drove under the influence at the time of the accident, the pursuant driver may recover non-economic damages.
A driver cannot sue for non-economic damages if they meet both of the following conditions: they were driving uninsured at the time of the accident and they have a history of driving uninsured.
A driver can pursue a lawsuit against an at-fault driver provided the pursuant driver did not commit a felony at the time the accident took place.
A driver may lose their ability to sue for non-economic damages if they fail to maintain their PIP, or they are found to have been driving intoxicated.
If a driver is uninsured at the time their accident occurred, they cannot sue for the first $15,000 of bodily injury damage, nor for the first $25,000 of property damage. However, if the other party was convicted of driving intoxicated, was acting intentionally, or fled the scene of the accident, this rule is void.
If a driver is uninsured at the time of the accident, they cannot recover any damages. With no exceptions.
The driver in question will lose their rights to pursue both economic and non-economic damages if driving uninsured at the time of the accident unless they can prove the other driver was driving intoxicated.
A driver cannot pursue compensation for economic or non-economic losses if they were driving uninsured, intoxicated, or if they had the intent to hurt themselves or others.
If the driver in question has a previous conviction of driving without insurance they will lose their right to sue for non-economic damages.
The driver will lose their right to sue for non-economic damages unless the at-fault party was driving under the influence, driving recklessly, or intentionally caused the accident.
Personal Injury Protection / No-Fault States
If you live in a “no-fault” state and do not have any insurance, you will not be able to access your PIP benefits. Further, the other driver will not be able to receive the compensation they deserve (if you were at fault) and will be forced to bring a lawsuit against you, provided they meet the state’s tort threshold.
States that are not “no-fault” states are called tort states. In these states, if you are responsible for causing an accident, and the other person sustains injuries, they are able to sue you for all damages. These damages include medical bills, lost wages, property damage, and non-economic damages. You will be personally responsible to pay for these damages.
Exceptions to Insurance Claim Limitations:
If you do not Have a History of Driving Without Insurance
If you do not live in a “No Pay No Play” state and do not have a record of driving without insurance for the past five years, you can still file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance. In this case, you would follow the same process as if you had auto insurance at the time of the accident. However, you will be cited for driving without insurance, which will limit your damages award should you get into another accident within the next five years.
You may also face civil penalties for driving without insurance. For example, your driver’s license may be suspended for 90 days, requiring a $250 fee to be paid before it will be reinstated. Additionally, the DMV may require that your insurance company submits monthly reports for three years, proving you have purchased the minimum required amount of insurance.
If you Have a History of Driving Without Insurance
You will not be entitled to receive compensation for physical pain and suffering, emotional pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, physical impairment, loss of companionship, or any other non-economic damages. However, you will still be able to pursue compensation for economic damages
Were you or someone you know involved in a recent auto accident? Call Auto Accident Care Network now at 801-683-1948 to connect with a live care advocate. Our team at AACN can connect you to trusted attorneys and doctors to schedule a free legal consultation, a free thirty-minute massage, and a no-cost medical exam!