When I meet personal injury clients for the first time, I often hear, "I am not going to use my health insurance or my car insurance because this crash was not my fault." It is important to keep in mind, though, that the negligent party’s insurance company will not pay bills as they accrue, nor are they required to. Medical bills are your responsibility initially. The medical providers will look to you for payment. If the bills are not paid within a certain time, the provider will turn the account over to collections, and you, not the other party’s insurance company, will be pursued for payment. The third-party carrier will offer you one lump sum settlement at the end to resolve all issues, including your medical expenses.
So, what should you do to protect your credit while the medical bills are piling up after a car accident that was caused by someone else? Here is a check list to help guide you through the process.
Use your health insurance if you have it. Although your health insurance company may be entitled to reimbursement, you only reimburse the amount they paid, which is less than the billed amount and it takes care of your bills immediately to prevent collection issues. Missouri and Kansas are anti-subrogation states so many insurance companies are not entitled to reimbursement; however, there are several exceptions. Medicaid and Medicare, for example, are always entitled to reimbursement.
Use your auto insurance Medical Payments Coverage (MO) or Personal Injury Protection (KS) benefits if you have it. Contact your auto insurance company and find out if you have this coverage. MPC benefits in Missouri do NOT have to be reimbursed. PIP benefits in Kansas DO have to be reimbursed; however, if you have an attorney, the PIP carrier is responsible for its fair share of attorney fees and expenses, so you generally only reimburse 2/3 of the benefits. You can submit a collision related medical bill to your auto insurance company to pay directly, or you can pay it and submit the bill for reimbursement directly to you.
Try a lien. If you do not have health insurance or medical coverage on your auto insurance policy, or if you still owe a balance after using your benefits, maybe the provider will consider a lien. Not all providers are willing to lien a file but many are, especially if you are represented. Once you receive a bill from the provider, contact the billing department to inquire whether they will assert a lien and withhold seeking payment until your personal injury claim resolves. If the provider is willing to assert a lien, they will not pursue collections against you and instead agree to be reimbursed from your settlement proceeds.
If you have been injured due to someone else’s negligence, and you have questions about the medical bills, the claims process, settlement, litigation, or other concerns following a motor vehicle collision, feel free to contact us for a free consultation.