Updated March 13, 2024

My Settlement Doesn’t Cover My Medical Bills–Now What?

When the medical bills start pouring in after an injury or accident that wasn’t your fault, it’s normal to feel frustrated and overwhelmed. Even if you successfully obtain a personal injury settlement, the insurance company might not have offered a large enough settlement to cover all your medical bills. If you accept this offer, you may wonder: How will I pay the rest of my bills?

Why Do Personal Injury Victims Receive Low Settlements?

If your settlement does not cover all your medical bills, or you’re worried they won’t, you may wonder why. If a settlement is intended to compensate you for your injuries, why do they sometimes fall short?

Unfortunately, when an insurance company or other party offers you a settlement, their goal is to pay you the least possible amount. This offer is usually tempting if you’ve been injured because you’ll receive the money much faster than if you went to trial or contacted an attorney to negotiate. The insurance company knows you have bills to pay, so they may make a quick offer they think you’ll accept, even though they know you could probably negotiate much more in damages. Negotiating with an insurance company on your own is extremely difficult. It’s always a good idea to consult an attorney about pursuing a higher settlement.

Who Is Entitled to My Settlement?

Sometimes, you may lose part of your settlement to your insurance company. This loss occurs when an insurance company, such as your health insurance provider, pays the costs of your medical expenses after an accident. Because another party was responsible for your injury, the insurance company also wants to be reimbursed.

Healthcare providers like hospitals may also be entitled to part of your settlement. They may file a medical lien for payment, and you must pay them from your settlement. Fortunately, there is sometimes room for negotiation with medical liens. Contact an attorney to find out whether you can negotiate the terms of the lien–or eliminate it altogether.

How Do I Pay My Medical Bills If My Settlement Is Too Low?

Suppose your settlement does not cover all your medical bills. In that case, you can face the consequences of unpaid medical debt. If you are unable to pay your medical expenses, you could face the following consequences:

  • Your medical providers could send the bills to collections.
  • You may have a negative mark on your credit score, which could impact your ability to buy a house or finance a vehicle.
  • You may struggle to make payments on this debt, which can affect your mental and physical health.

Having unpaid medical debt is a position no one wants to be in–especially when another party is responsible for your injury. Depending on your situation, you may have some options.

Options for Paying Medical Bills

How to Pay Your Medical Bills Icons

Negotiate With the Medical Provider

If you have an unpaid bill from the hospital or other provider, contact their office before you pay it. In some cases, they may offer a discount for paying in full.  Alternatively, they may be able to offer you discounts based on your income, whether you’re a cash-paying patient or you qualify for a specific program.

Set Up a Payment Plan

If you cannot afford to pay your medical expenses, your provider may allow you to set up a payment plan. Depending on the provider, you may be able to spread your balance out over 12 or 24 months with no interest. If this payment is too high, some providers work with third parties to offer low-interest payment options over a longer period of time. However, before you agree to a payment plan, it’s important to understand all the terms and any financial implications it may have in the future.

Contact an Attorney

If you still cannot afford to pay your medical bills with your settlement, another option is to consult an attorney. Schedule a free consultation with an attorney. They can tell you whether you have recourse to other legal avenues. For example, if you accept a settlement after a car accident, you may be unable to negotiate any more money from the insurance company. However, an attorney can direct you to file a claim with your own auto insurance policy. A personal injury attorney can assess your situation for other solutions that might not be obvious to a layperson.

How Can I Get the Best Possible Settlement?

The best way to get a fair settlement is to contact an attorney as soon as possible after an accident. Whether you’re injured in a car accident, on the job, or as the result of a careless accident, there is almost always an insurance company ready to offer a low settlement, hoping you won’t file a lawsuit. But it’s important to take time to consider any offers and consult an attorney before accepting. By involving an attorney, you can level the playing field and ensure all your bases are covered. An attorney will give you your best chance of receiving a high offer in your personal injury case.

Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today

A personal injury settlement is supposed to help you rebuild your life after an injury. But if you accept a settlement without consulting an attorney first, you may end up with less money than you need and deserve. The attorneys at WKW will help you recover the damages you need to pay your bills and restore your life after an injury. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.

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