Who is going to pay my medical bills?
You would think that the insurance company for the person who caused your injuries would have to pay your medical bills as they come due, but that’s not how it works. There is an order and priority of payment after an accident, and your personal credit can be protected if it properly understood and followed.
Order of payment after an accident:
- PIP Insurance (or workers compensation if you were injured while working)
- Health insurance
- Cash payment (if possible)
- Put your medical bills on a lien – then the doctors will get paid when your case settles.
- The defendant’s insurance company
1) PIP insurance must be used first
If you were injured in a car accident (bicyclists and pedestrians included) then there is at least $3,000 available under your car insurance for medical expenses. This is called Personal Injury Protection coverage or PIP coverage.
PIP coverage comes from your own car insurance company and is immediately available so you can get the medical care that you need after an accident without having to wait for the other driver’s insurance company to accept liability. However, once they do accept responsibility for the accident, that person’s insurance company will reimburse your company for the $3,000 expenses.
PIP coverage must be exhausted before any other insurance company will start paying your medical bills.
2) Health insurance
Once PIP has been exhausted, your medical bills will go to collections unless they are submitted to the correct insurance company. If available, you should submit your remaining medical bills to your health insurance company for payment.
Even though they are from a car accident, you should treat your medical bills like any other charges for an injury or health concern. This way you will get the contractional reduction that your health insurance company has negotiated with the doctor’s offices.
Once your health insurance company starts paying, you will have to pay your co-pays and deductibles just like any other health insurance claim. You will get this money back when your case settles, but if you can’t afford to pay these, then you should contact our office and we can discuss some ways to keep your bills from affecting your personal credit.
3) Cash payments
It can be very hard paying for unexpected medical bills after an accident – especially if you’re not able to work, but most medical providers will give a discount if you pay the entire balance upfront, or they will allow you to create a payment plan. This will ensure that none of the medical bills are sent to collections before your case settles.
Some medical offices will provide treatment on a lien. This means that you can get the treatment that you need after an accident and the doctor’s office will agree in writing to wait for payment until the case settles with the Defendant’s insurance company. This option is only available if you have an attorney. Your attorney will record the lien on the case and agree to pay the doctor’s office from any settlement proceeds.
5) The Defendant’s insurance company
As I mentioned earlier, it seems crazy that the Defendant’s insurance company pays last, but that just how it works in Utah. You only get one “bite of the apple” from insurance company – meaning you only get one settlement check. Once you accept a settlement check, your case is closed. If you have problems in the future and need surgery, you cannot get the insurance company to pay for it. This is why they are last on the list. You do not want to settle with Defendant’s insurance company until you have a full understanding of your injuries and what may be required in the future. The insurance companies want you to take a quick settlement, but don’t make this mistake. Call our office and we can provide a free consultation and discuss all of your settlement and payment options.
For an extremely clear explanation given by Russ Hymas, take a moment to watch this video.