The average car accident can cost thousands of dollars in past and future medical bills. Severe personal injuries can cost hundreds of thousands in lifelong expenses. Luckily, most car accident victims don’t have to pay these costs out of pocket. Instead, they have vehicle insurance policies that will cover these expenses for them, usually with a deductible payment. It is up to the crash victim, however, to handle the insurance claim process and figure out how to obtain compensation for their accident-related medical treatment. Use these guidelines to help you navigate the process in West Virginia.
West Virginia’s At-Fault Car Insurance Laws
In West Virginia, your first source for medical bill reimbursement is the insurance company of the person who caused your car accident. If you aren’t sure you caused the wreck, call the police for an official record of the crash and an investigation of fault. The police will assess the scene, interview eyewitnesses, and collect statements from everyone involved. Investigators will then conclude who or what they believed caused the accident.
At this point, you’ll call the insurance company of the at-fault person and file your car accident claim, and that insurer will cover your crash-related medical expenses through a settlement agreement. If you caused the accident, you’ll call your own insurance company. The minimum required amounts of car insurance in West Virginia are $25,000 in bodily injury liability (BIL) per person and $50,000 in BIL per accident.
The minimum amount of insurance coverage, however, may not cover your injuries – only those of others harmed in the collision. In this case, you may either must pay your losses out of pocket or try to file a personal injury claim against an entity that could have contributed to the crash, such as an auto part manufacturer. A West Virginia car accident lawyer can help.
Obtaining a Settlement from a Car Insurance Company
To hold someone else liable for your medical bills after a car accident in West Virginia, you’ll have to prove that person’s fault for your accident. This may take help from an attorney if the other driver’s insurance company denies culpability. If you receive an insurance claim denial, contact a car accident lawyer right away. You could have a case of insurance bad faith on your hands. A lawyer can also help if the insurance companies accepts your claim and offers a settlement. A lawyer can negotiate a higher, fairer settlement on your behalf.
Who Pays While You Wait for Insurance Money?
You may know how your medical bills will get paid eventually, but how do you answer the calls from collectors and hospitals right now? If you have the money available, cover your own medical bills up front and keep copies of all receipts. You will receive what you’ve paid back during an insurance settlement to pay off your debts. If you’re like most car accident victims, however, you may not have sufficient funds to comfortably pay off your medical expenses. Don’t let this intimidate you into saying yes to a fast insurance settlement. Instead, hire a lawyer.
Most car accident lawyers operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning you won’t pay attorney’s fees unless he or she successfully resolves your case. In the meantime, your lawyer can take over billing and communications with creditors on your behalf. Oftentimes, a lawyer can work out a delayed payment plan with health care providers, in which they’ll receive what you owe in medical expenses once you obtain a settlement or judgment award. Even if you don’t have health insurance, this strategy could work with an experienced West Virginia personal injury attorney – if someone else caused your collision.
Ultimately, it will be the at-fault driver’s insurance company that will pay for your medical expenses after an accident. If you run into any issues, however, such as a denied insurance claim or lack of insurance, you may need to speak to an attorney to discuss your other options. Every case is unique.