My mother was rear-ended recently by a driver under the influence of pain medication who was not even supposed to be driving (per HER insurance agent). After 3 weeks, they paid for her car repairs that were close to $2000, but the at-fault lady’s insurance company will not even call my mother about her medical expenses.
She’s having to see a chiropractor 3 times a week now, and has since been referred to an orthopedic specialist. She also found out she sustained another injury from a surgery she previously had a few months ago that was damaged in the collision.
The doctors are now recommending surgery and the medical expenses are quickly adding up. The problem is she’s currently having to pay out of her own pocket for all these doctor bills that she cannot afford.
Can she legally send the bills to the at-fault insurance company without having to pay them out of her own pocket initially? What are her options to be treated for her injuries due to the accident if she cannot afford to see the doctors? Thank you.
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Dear Malissa ,
The answer to your question depends on a variety of factors. Alabama is what is referred to as a “tort” (aka fault) state when it comes to auto accidents, as opposed to a “no-fault” state.
Drivers in Alabama are required to carry a minimum amount of “bodily injury” insurance coverage on their vehicle. This coverage is designed to pay for the medical bills and other damages to people hurt in a car accident.
In addition to being a “fault” state, Alabama also follows the strict contributory negligence rule. This means that even if someone is injured in a car accident, and that accident was mostly caused by another driver, the injured party may not be able to recover compensation. If the injured person was even 1% at fault or “contributorily negligent”, then the person who was 99% at fault is not required to pay for the other person’s injuries.
Even if the other driver is found 100% at fault for causing the accident, and therefore their auto insurance will pay for the injured person’s medical bills and other damages, this does not mean they can simply ask for money and then automatically receive it.
Instead, the claim is generally resolved through a settlement or legal ruling, and only then does the at-fault driver’s insurance company issue the agreed-upon settlement to the injured party.
But what about medical bills accumulating during this process?
Thankfully, though not required, many Alabama car insurance policies also carry what’s called “MedPay”, which protects you in this very scenario. MedPay is a type of coverage that pays your medical providers directly, regardless of who is at fault for the accident.
Your mother appears to have been seriously injured in the accident. Whenever surgery is involved, a personal injury case becomes complicated. Serious injury cases require the services of an experienced personal injury attorney. The stakes are too high, and there are too many “what if” or “it depends” issues for you to try to handle a case like this on your own.
Learn more here: Car Accident Back Injuries
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.
Best of luck with your claim,
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