The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles estimates between 8,000 and 10,000 motorcyclists crash each year across the state, typically resulting in several thousand injuries—and many more across the nation. Total motorcycle accidents have been on the decrease in recent years, but far too many people still suffer preventable accidents and injuries while riding.
Motorcycles do not offer the protection afforded by passenger vehicles, and even the safest bikers face the risk of severe injuries or death. Motorcycle accident injuries are often severe and force victims to spend time in the hospital. Some accident victims also need surgery and may suffer permanent physical restrictions that impact their ability to work. In the worst situations, motorcycle accident victims can never return to their job or seek employment in the future.
Motorcycle accident injuries can inflict physical pain, but they can also carry a heavy economic burden for victims and their families because of the high cost of medical treatment. Some households struggle to get by and have difficulty paying their rent, mortgage, and car payments. This can result in amassing large amounts of credit card debt. In severe cases, families sometimes need to file bankruptcy and sell their homes, so they do not face foreclosure. Even having money to pay for food, clothing, and other necessities can be difficult for motorcycle accident victims.
If you have a better understanding of who should pay your medical bills after a car causes a motorcycle accident, you can have a little peace of mind with regard to the economic impact of your motorcycle accident. You are financially responsible for all your medical treatment costs, but the exact source of funding for your medical expenses will vary among different motorcycle accidents and insurance coverage.
If you have suffered motorcycle accident injuries because you were hit by a car in Florida, it can be in your best interest to consult with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to guide you through the claims process and advocate for you to get compensation for your medical bills and other damages. Until you have the opportunity to meet with an attorney, this guide provides a deeper look into Florida’s insurance laws, the type of medical expenses you face, the priority of insurance benefits payments, and who may have to pay your medical bills in different insurance coverage situations.
Florida’s Insurance Laws
Florida is one of about a dozen U.S. states that has a no-fault insurance system. Those who register vehicles in Florida must carry minimum coverage, which also includes personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. PIP coverage differs from bodily injury liability (BIL) coverage. These are the two types of insurance that pay for medical expenses after a traffic accident in Florida.
In Florida, PIP insurance extends to those who are on their bicycle, pedestrians, and others in the vehicle when an accident occurs. If you have PIP coverage on an automobile, it does not extend to you if you suffer injuries in a motorcycle accident. Your first course of action to get your medical bills covered from a motorcycle accident caused by a driver in a passenger vehicle is to file a claim under their bodily injury liability coverage.
Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) Insurance
Under Florida law, motor vehicle drivers must carry a minimum of $125,000 in BIL coverage per person and $250,000 per event. As long as the driver who hit your bike has complied with Florida’s insurance laws, you could file a claim under their policy to receive compensation for your medical bills and other damages up to their policy limit.
Several Expenses Fall Under the Medical Bill Umbrella
Traffic accident injuries are expensive and it is not likely that you will only receive one bill for all your medical treatment. A wide array of expenses constitutes medical bills that might be covered under the driver’s bodily injury liability coverage.
- Ambulance services
- Emergency room treatment
- Continued doctor visits
- Consultations and treatment with specialists such as orthopedists, surgeons, and neurologists
- Surgery and associated costs such as surgical nurses, supplies, and anesthesia
- Prescription medications, often for pain
- Diagnostic testing including imaging like MRIs, CT scans, and x-rays, as well as blood work and other tests
- Hospitalization and associated costs, such as meals
- Follow-up care after release from the hospital
- Assistive devices including wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, and prosthetic devices
- Rehabilitation services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy
- Mental health services to cope with the emotional trauma of an accident
- Travel expenses to and from the hospital or doctor
Who Pays for Medical Bills if You Do Not Have Motorcycle Insurance?
If you caused your motorcycle accident, you will be liable for your own medical bills and will have to pay them out-of-pocket. If you have health insurance coverage, some coverage might offset the costs of treating your accident injuries. Expensive medical treatment can impact your financial future for years to come. If you do not have motorcycle insurance, it can be in your best interest to contact a lawyer immediately who can help you get any compensation you deserve or to avoid some or all financial liability if you caused the accident.
Who Pays for Medical Bills When the Driver Who Hit You Does Not Have Auto Insurance?
If the driver of the car who hit your motorcycle is uninsured or underinsured, the initial financial responsibility of your medical bills is yours. Florida does not require you to carry uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UI/UM) on your motorcycle insurance policy. However, many bikers choose to purchase this policy to protect themselves in these situations.
If an uninsured driver hits your motorcycle and you have UI/UM coverage, it will kick in to cover your medical bills up to your policy limit. You need to check with your insurance provider, but uninsured motorist coverage often kicks in when the driver leaves the scene of the accident and commits a hit-and-run.
Who Pays for Medical Bills When You Have Exhausted Insurance Policy Limits?
Once you total the cost of ambulance service, emergency room treatment, and a few days in the hospital, you will likely make a big dent in the at-fault driver’s BIL policy if they are only carrying the minimum amounts. If you had surgery, spent weeks in the hospital, and lost income from missing work, it is likely that you quickly exhausted minimum BIL limits.
Severe injuries and all their treatment costs easily meet and exceed six figures, and often much more. Your health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid will cover some costs if you have used up all insurance options. Once you have exhausted your health insurance limits, you need to pay for your medical expenses out of your own pocket, which typically includes amassing credit card debt, draining savings accounts, and possibly selling personal belongings.
If you have suffered severe motorcycle accident injuries, you should consider consulting with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer who can help you bring a lawsuit against the driver and seek out the maximum compensation commensurate with your accident injuries.
Insurance policy limits may place a practical limit on what you can recover through a lawsuit, but sometimes you can step outside the insurance system to seek additional compensation for damages. Your lawyer would evaluate your motorcycle accident claim to uncover all the related facts and devise the best strategy to get you the money you need and deserve to pay for your medical expenses if you have a viable claim.
Priority of Funding Medical Bills After a Motorcycle Accident
Getting your medical bills paid after a severe motorcycle accident can be an overwhelming and complicated process. We provided specific insurance scenarios above, but the reality is that you might receive money from a variety of sources to pay for medical bills.
If the driver who hit you caused the motorcycle accident, your medical expenses will typically get funded by sources in the following order:
- Health insurance, Medicaid, or Medicare coverage after you have paid the mandatory deductibles or copays;
- Uninsured or underinsured motorists coverage, if applicable;
- The car driver’s bodily injury liability coverage; and
- Compensation from a settlement or jury verdict in your favor.
Although others might be financially liable for your medical expenses, you are responsible for paying your medical bills. It could take months or years before you see any money from a motorcycle accident claim, which means you do not have immediate money from others to pay your bills.
Insurance Company Benefits Payments
Even though you will not immediately receive a payout from an insurance provider, Florida law requires them to decide on your claim within 30 days of receiving proof of the amount of benefits. They are also supposed to pay quickly, but this is often not the case.
Instead, insurance companies may delay payments of claims or attempt to avoid a payout altogether. You should be aware of potential insurance company tactics and let your lawyer handle communications when insurance companies are using questionable tactics.
Assuming Your Debt
When your health insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, or your motorcycle coverage kicks in to provide money for medical bills caused by a driver who hit you, they will want their money back. When these entities assume your medical debt, it is called subrogation. This allows you to avoid out-of-pocket costs for your medical treatment, but it also complicates your motorcycle accident claim.
If you sue the at-fault drivers, you likely will have to wait months, or years, for money from a settlement or judgment. If and when you receive compensation, you need to pay back your health insurance provider and any money your motorcycle insurance carrier paid out on your behalf. Your lawyer typically takes care of repaying these debts for you when you receive compensation, but you should understand the process. Subrogation and repayment ensure accident victims do not get paid twice for the same medical bills.
Protecting Your Credit After a Motorcycle Accident
One of the worst consequences in the wake of a motorcycle accident is massive amounts of medical bills. If you do not carefully handle your financial situation, the accident can ruin more than your body. Unpaid medical bills can destroy your credit, even if you did not cause the motorcycle accident.
Some accident victims wait for settlement money to pay their medical bills, which leads medical providers to send their bills to a collection agency. Protecting your credit is one of the many things a motorcycle accident lawyer could do to help you.
Each time you receive a bill for a medical service or treatment related to your motorcycle accident injuries, send a copy to your attorney, so he or she can keep an accurate record of your medical costs.
You should also share all medical information with your lawyer such as appointments, physical restrictions, treatments, and if your doctor releases you for full activity. Once you have recovered to the maximum amount possible, your lawyer would request final copies of your bills and submit them to the appropriate insurance provider.
Medical providers know that people suffer injuries from accidents that were not their fault. Make sure to communicate with your provider about your motorcycle accident claim and let them know that you are waiting for an insurance payout, settlement, or court-awarded damages from the liable party.
Your provider might put your bill on hold until your claim is resolved or ask you to make small payments to stop your account from going to collections. If you choose not to communicate, unpaid bills will go to collections, and your creditworthiness will suffer.
Hire an Experienced Orlando Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Experienced motorcycle accident lawyers understand insurance policies and how the law applies to different coverage scenarios. They also have experience dealing with insurance companies that only care about money. You should not have to cope with the economic hardship of motorcycle accident injuries alone after a motorist hit you on your bike.
Instead, let a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer communicate with the insurance company and negotiate the best outcome for your claim, so the provider takes your claim more seriously. You can focus on healing and rehabilitation so you can move forward as healthy as possible.
Orlando, FL 32814