One of the scariest things about getting into a crash on your bike is thinking about how you’ll get back on your feet afterwards.
For many people, the medical bills they face after a crash are the biggest financial burden they’ll ever have in their life. Even relatively minor injuries like sprains can end up costing tens of thousands of dollars, once you’ve added up time in the hospital, time away from work, and followups with your doctor or physical therapist.
If you add in broken bones, head trauma, or other serious, long-term injuries, then the costs can add up to an unimaginable amount very quickly.
Keep in mind also that your health insurance company in most cases has a right to be paid back for treatment that it paid for related to a crash, if the crash was someone else’s fault.
So what can you do?
If you’ve been injured by a driver who was at fault for your crash, you are entitled to compensation for the damages you’ve suffered as a result of the crash. However, those funds can take over a year to actually arrive — so how is the average person supposed to pay the medical bills that are already piling up?
Options for paying your medical bills
If you have health insurance (or if you are covered by a system like Medicaid or Medi-Cal), then you may find that some or all of your medical bills will be covered by your insurer.
Some people may also have enough personal savings to cover their medical bills, or they may have access to gifts or loans from family members who can help pay the bills.
If you have an auto insurance policy, it is possible that that policy may also cover some of your medical bills. It never hurts to check.
Finally, if you were injured while riding your bike for work (for example, if you were making a delivery on your bike), you could be entitled to workers compensation. These funds could also help you to cover your medical costs.
However, for many people, these options are either not available, or they are not enough to cover the significant costs of their medical bills. Luckily, there are still options for you if you find yourself dealing with bills that you can’t cover. This is something that an experienced bicycle attorney can help you with.
How an attorney can help you pay your medical bills
If you don’t have insurance or you don’t have enough insurance to make your medical bills manageable — and you want to pursue a claim against the at-fault driver to recover your financial and emotional damages — an attorney can help you manage your medical bills until the time that your settlement arrives that will allow you to pay off your debts.
What an attorney can do for you is contact the entities to whom you owe payment, and set up a lien on your behalf. This will enable you to not have to pay your medical bills until your settlement comes in, which you can use to pay them off.
One note: opting to set up a lien instead of paying off your bills as quickly as possible can sometimes hurt your credit score. If your credit score is really important to you, then you might find it worth it to dig deep into savings or ask for help from friends or family with payment. However, if you want or need to wait until you get your settlement in order to pay your bills, this is a strong option.
Getting a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company
Getting a settlement from an insurance company can be challenging — they will look for any way they can to avoid paying any more than they absolutely have to.
This is why hiring an attorney can be so valuable — they know the tricks that insurance companies will use to avoid payment, and they are professionally trained not to fall into traps or make mistakes that will cause you to lose out on what you are owed.
If you try to handle a negotiation yourself, there are so many mistakes you could make without even realizing it. If you contradict your own story in any way, inadvertently admit fault, undervalue your injuries…there are so many ways that they can avoid paying what you are owed for your medical bills and damages.
In order to get a settlement, there will most likely be a negotiation process.
The driver’s insurance company will likely make an offer, and your attorney will counter it with an amount that will compensate you for your damages. Depending on several factors — including whether you were at fault in any way for the crash — the insurance company and your lawyer will settle on a figure.
It is always ultimately your choice whether or not to accept a settlement. If there are factors working against you in the case, you may not end up with the full amount that you want. However, refusing a settlement and going to court could also take years and cost far more money.
If you are satisfied with your settlement amount, then the insurance company will cut a check to your attorney. From that check, they will take their fee (your attorney’s fee should always be agreed upon in writing before you start working together — typically it is around ⅓ to 40% of your settlement amount).
After that, they will use the settlement funds to pay off any liens that they had generated for you. If the settlement amount is enough to cover all of those liens, then those bills are paid.
Any funds that remain will then be distributed to you. At that time, it is your money to do with what you see fit — but if you’ve been waiting to rebuild your savings or pay back any loans from family, that is probably one of the first things you’ll do.
You can also use the funds with other costs associated with your crash like buying a new bike, getting your old bike repaired, paying for physical therapy, etc.
It can take a long time to get a settlement to help cover your medical bills after a bike crash, but the goal is always to make you whole again. With a strong attorney on your side, you can work together to build a case and win a settlement that will help you pay your medical bills and get back on your feet after a crash.
If you need advice from an attorney about your bicycle crash, call Bay Area Bicycle Law today at 1-866-Bicycle-Law or 415-466-8717.
Please be aware that these case results do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter. Every case is different and case values turn on small facts and differences. Thus, the results achieved on one case do not necessarily mean the attorney will achieve the same result, or a similar result, even for a case which may have some similarities.