Man Struck By Another Driver is Stuck With Medical Bills

Every time Christen Zinger gets behind the wheel of a car, his grandfather Willis Lyons is just hoping he'll be okay.

"Just parental worry; that's my kid there," Lyons explained.

But last year, his fear became a reality.

"A guy turned left in front of me, trying to cut through the median, hit my car and I went off the road," said Zinger.

Zinger's car was totaled. He said officers assured him the other driver was at fault and gave him a slip with the driver's insurance information.

After running some tests and X-rays at Hilcrest Medical Center in Oklahoma, Zinger said he got the okay from doctors to go home. When he made it back to Texas, he said he contacted the other driver's insurance company, Travelers Insurance.

They sent him a check for his totaled car, but he said the medical bills were another story. Zinger said he received the first hospital bill on July 18 and emailed a copy to a Travelers Insurance adjuster.

"Every time I get a medical bill I call them and say, 'hey, I'm still receiving them. You guys told me you were calling the hospital.'"

He said when the adjuster finally called the hospital to see what was owed, he learned the bills came out to $6,400.

Zinger said the adjuster told him, "the bills were just too high," and he wasn't getting answers from the hospital as to why they were so high.

Zinger told us he did have medical insurance at the time of the accident, but didn't feel he needed to use his insurance since it wasn't his fault. He believed the bills were Travlers' responsibility.

But, six months later the bills remained unpaid.

"I've dealt with many insurance companies over my life and I've never had a company that operated this way," Lyons said. 

Zinger's grandfather got involved when they started receiving debt and lien notices in the mail. He said he made several phone calls to Travelers on his grandson's behalf, but couldn't get any answers, so he called the NBC 5 Responds team.

We called and emailed Travelers Insurance, and Zinger and his grandfather got a call from an adjuster a couple days later.

They said an adjuster apologized for their troubles and said he would make sure the bills were taken care of. The adjuster sent them a confirmation later that day.

$6,439, paid.

A spokesperson for travelers insurance told NBC 5:

"We have been working with Mr. Zinger since his claim was filed. We covered the total loss of his car soon after the accident and paid his medical bills after we received the appropriate documentation."

Zinger said the adjuster also sent him another check last week for $2,500. An email said it was an "injury settlement payment."

"I don't have to worry about getting these bills no more, and the debt collectors will probably leave me alone by now," he said.

A personal injury lawyer we spoke with said that insurance companies are obligated to cover medical expenses.

He also says, regardless of the reason you are sick or injured or who's at fault, you should always utilize your medical insurance. If the injured person's medical insurance pays the hospital bills, they will bring a claim against the driver who caused the accident, and that person's auto insurer is then obligated to step in and handle the case. This process is called subrogation.

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