After an accident in Missouri or Kansas, injured parties often worry about how to pay for their medical bills. Many assume that the at-fault party will pay for all medical expenses related to the personal injury accident. But what if the liable party's insurance policy isn't enough to cover the cost of your medical bills? What should you do with a low policy limit?
Our personal injury law firm in Kansas City, Missouri is very experienced in dealing with these types of situations. We can help identify all potential sources of recovery and negotiate any liens, which is especially important when your medical expenses exceed the at-fault party's policy limits.
Contact our office today at 816-203-0143 for a free consultation, and we can help guide you through the next steps.
Medical Expenses After an Accident in MO & KS
Medical bills can pile up fast after an accident, especially if your injury requires extensive treatment or surgery. Some common medical expenses after a Kansas City personal injury are:
- Ambulance fees – trip from the accident scene to the hospital
- Hospital bills – including inpatient or outpatient care
- Laboratory fees - X-rays, CT and MRI scans
- Surgery costs - for severe injuries or complex operations (including amputation)
- Physical therapy bills – aftercare or rehabilitation therapy after an accident
- Family physician bills – personal care provided by a qualified home health nurse
- Cost of prescription medication – prescribed pain or other medications for treatment
If you are not finished treating or have a permanent impairment, you be entitled to seek future medical expenses as well. For example, if you suffer a head injury that causes loss of vision, cognitive impairments or dementia, it is critical that your settlement cover any necessary future medical care.
How Insurance Policy Limits Work in MO & KS
A liability insurance policy will cover damages and injuries caused by another’s negligence subject to certain terms and conditions. One such condition is the "policy limit". This "limit" of liability coverage is the maximum amount the insurance company will pay in case of a liability claim, regardless of the injury severity.
For example, in Kansas and Missouri, all owners of motor vehicles are required to purchase liability insurance. If an auto insurance policy has a limit of $25,000, the insurance company will only pay you the $25,000 even if your medical damages amount to much more than that limit.
In Missouri and Kansas, the minimum amount of liability coverage that must be purchased for a vehicle is $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. This means that, if a driver with minimum liability coverage causes a crash that injures you and others, his or her policy will only cover only $25,000 per person in damage. In addition, if multiple parties are injured in a single accident, there would be only $50,000 in coverage for all injured parties.
What to Do If Your Medical Bills Exceed an Insurance Policy Limit
If your medical bills exceed the insurance policy limit of the party at fault, our personal injury attorney will investigate whether other avenues are available for a recovery. These include:
Making Claims Against Other At-Fault Parties
In personal injury cases in Missouri and Kansas, it is important to determine if more than one party is to blame for the accident. Accidents involving two or more parties can result in the two being jointly liable for the total compensation, according to their degree of fault.
For example, if two drivers each have 50% liability for an accident, they will be responsible for cost-sharing your medical expenses equally. If your medical costs amount to $100,000 and each has an insurance policy limit of $50,000, their policies should each contribute $50,000 to satisfy your $100,000 in damages.
Common situations where more than one party may be at fault include:
- Multi-vehicle accidents: multiple drivers may be assigned fault for violating traffic laws in a motor vehicle accident.
- Nursing home cases: both the hospital and a doctor can be liable for a patient's injuries when providing care due to medical negligence.
- Product liability cases: the manufacturer and distributor, such as a store selling a specific product, may be liable for injuries caused by defective products.
- Premises liability cases: the owner of a property and management company may both be responsible for the negligence that leads to an accident.
High net worth defendants, large corporations, and business entities often have an umbrella insurance policy on top of the original liability coverage. The umbrella policy typically kicks in when the underlying policy pays its limit. It is important to find out if an umbrella policy applies in your injury case before settling your claim.
Underinsured Motorist Policy
If you have car insurance, one of the most important coverages you should buy is an underinsurance. Underinsurance coverage in your own auto policy may pay your damages after a motor vehicle crash if the party’s liability coverage is insufficient.
Collecting from the At-Fault Party Directly
If your damages exceed a defendant's policy limit, you may consider whether the defendant is able to pay your medical expenses directly. If a defendant has a high net worth, it is possible to file suit and seek a judgment against the defendant. You would then need to seek to collect on any judgment, which can be difficult but might be an option to consider.
Has a Missouri or Kansas Insurance Company Acted in Bad Faith?
Insurance companies have a duty to act in good faith with a victim of an accident after considering all aspects of the case. If an at-fault party's insurance company acts in bad faith, they can be held liable for those medical costs.
Our Kansas City Accident Attorney Can Help
If you or a loved one has been in a personal injury accident, our experienced accident attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve from the at-fault party. Our knowledgeable team pursues various legal options if the at-fault party's insurance policy isn't enough to cover your medical bills.
We’re here to help, and ready to get to work for you. Contact our office today at 816-203-0143 for a free consultation. You can also instantly download our free e-book Crash Course: 9 Mistakes That Can Wreck Your Injury Claim. We're on your side!