If you were hurt in an accident but don't have health insurance, you're likely feeling hopeless and helpless. The good news is that you have options - you can get the treatment you need, and you should. Similarly, if you do have health insurance but you have a high deductible, you too have options. Money should never stop you from getting the health care you need.
Whose Fault Was the Accident?
The options I'm about to describe only apply to people who were hurt in an accident that was NOT their fault. I'll use an example.
Let's say you're stopped at a red light when suddenly Distracted Dave rear-ends you. In the accident, you hurt your back and neck.
Clearly, the wreck is Dave's fault. Since he caused the accident, it's his (and his insurance's) job to pay for your damages and injuries. At this point, you'll contact Dave's insurance company and start a claim.
Unfortunately, claims can take a long time to resolve. In the meantime, you're in pain and you need to see a doctor, but you don't have health insurance and you can't afford the out-of-pocket costs. So what do you do?
Wait For Your Claim to Settle
Your first option is the most obvious one - you can wait for your claim to settle. Once you file a claim with the insurance company, you'll have to wait for them to process the information and then offer you a settlement, which is the amount of money they're going to offer to pay you for your damages and injuries.
The issue here, of course, is that you won't see that money until the claim is over, which can take months. If you need medical treatment now, you might not be able to wait.
Similarly, when clients come to my firm, I rarely settle a case before they've finished all their medical treatment. Think about it. How can the insurance company put a number on your medical bills before you've even finished healing? What if you need an unexpected surgery? What if your cost of care is more than you expected? Once you settle a claim and the insurance company writes you a check, you can't go back an ask for more money. Your case is closed forever.
Hire a Personal Injury Attorney and Use an LOP
Not every injury case warrants hiring a personal injury attorney. If you aren't that hurt and you can front your expenses out-of-pocket, you can probably handle your claim on your own.
However, if you've been hurt in an accident that was someone else's fault, you don't have health insurance and you can't afford to pay your bills on your own, you should consider consulting with an attorney.
Car wreck lawyers and personal injury lawyers partner with doctors and ensure you're seen right away. They do this with something called a Letter of Protection (LOP). Essentially, an LOP is an agreement between your doctor and your lawyer. Your lawyer says, "Look, we're working on this client's case right now. We aren't ready to settle with the insurance company, but my client needs medical help right away. If you agree to treat them and front all the costs, I promise to pay you back when the claim is over."
This agreement allows you, the injured accident victim, to see a doctor and get the care you need without having to pay them upfront.
Do You Really Need a Lawyer?
The best way to find out is to set up a consultation. The initial visit should be free.
If you're looking for more information, you can check out my article on the subject here.