One of the many legal issues you will face after a car accident is the issue of getting your injuries paid for. While damages might be available for pain and suffering as well, the damages for your concrete medical expenses are going to be one of the most obvious problems.
Especially since medical bills from an unexpected accident are often enough to bankrupt many families, it is vital to have an attorney help you recover these costs. Our lawyers can examine your case, determine how much your medical expenses are worth, and fight to get them paid at their full value.
For a free case review, call the Tennessee car accident attorneys at Howe Law. You can reach us at (844) 876-4357.
Who Pays Medical Bills in Tennessee Car Accident Cases?
Who pays damages in general after an injury often comes down to three factors:
- Is there a no-fault insurance system or fault insurance system in place?
- Do you have supplemental insurance?
- Who is at fault?
In a car accident, medical bills are often paid through insurance – at least to start with – so all three of these questions will be important.
No-Fault vs. Fault Insurance
Some states use a no-fault insurance system where each driver has insurance that covers their own injuries when they are involved in a car crash. In these systems, lawsuits are often restricted, and insurance companies might pay only a portion of your medical bills.
Tennessee instead uses a fault or tort system. Under this system, each driver carries insurance to cover any injuries they cause someone else, and the at-fault driver’s insurance pays the injured victims. This means that after an accident in Tennessee, you might first look to the other driver’s insurance company to pay for your medical bills.
However, many insurance policies are only at the state minimum of $25,000 per person for injury or death. This means that if your damages go above this limit, you may have to turn to your own supplemental policies or a direct lawsuit against the driver rather than relying on their insurance.
When you pay for insurance in a fault system like Tennessee’s, you essentially pay to protect yourself from lawsuits. However, there are other supplemental insurance policies you might have that protect you when you are injured.
The first is medpay, which covers some medical payments after an accident. This can be used to pay for some of your own injuries and medical bills (as well as injuries and medical bills for any passengers in your car). If you have this optional policy, it might be able to cover some of your bills quickly so that you have time to get the rest of the damages from the other driver’s insurance or through a lawsuit.
Your insurance policy might also have an uninsured motorist policy or an underinsured motorist policy. If the other driver did not have insurance (even though they are required to), then you might be able to use your uninsured motorist coverage instead. If the other driver’s insurance is too low to pay for your injuries, your underinsured motorist policy might cover the overages.
Lastly, if you have medical insurance/healthcare coverage, you can often use this to pay for medical bills out of pocket. However, our Nashville car accident lawyers will still seek to have these damages reimbursed through an insurance claim or lawsuit, as there is no reason you should have to spend your own money on injuries another driver caused.
In a fault system, you will have to choose the correct driver to file a claim against to get damages. For a driver to be held responsible for a car accident – and thus be the one to pay your medical bills – you must prove that they violated some traffic law or safe-driving rule and that that mistake caused the crash.
Often, other parties can also share liability. This is common in truck accident cases, where the trucker’s employer could be liable for the accident their driver caused while working for them. Moreover, multiple drivers could be held accountable in complex cases like pileups, auto manufacturers can be held liable for defective auto parts, and work crews can sometimes be held liable for dangerous road surfaces.
In any case, the defendant might also try to hold you partly accountable. If the court finds that you share liability for your own crash, you could be left to cover some of your damages out of pocket. First, our Knoxville car accident lawyers will fight these accusations and seek 100%of the damages from the other parties. Second, even if you are held partly at fault, you can still recover damages from the other parties. Your damages will simply be reduced by your share of fault, and damages are not blocked as long as you share a lower degree of fault than the other party.
How Much Can I Claim in Medical Bills in a Tennessee Car Accident Case?
If you faced original medical bills, but your health insurance or car insurance policies helped reduce those costs or pay for some of the damages, knowing how much to claim from the defendant can be difficult. In general, Tennessee uses a “collateral source rule” that says that you can use the original hospital bill as proof of how much your medical expenses cost. The Tennessee Supreme Court confirmed in 2017 that even if your insurance lowered the cost and you ultimately paid only a portion of the total bill to the hospital, you are allowed to claim the full value of your bill in damages.
Talk to our Tennessee car accident lawyers for additional help determining how to calculate damages, what future medical bills can be claimed, and whether settlement offers include fair compensation for your medical expenses.
Call Our Tennessee Car Accident Attorneys Today
For a free case review, contact Howe Law’s Murfreesboro car accident attorneys today at (844) 876-4357.