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Does Health Insurance Cover Car Accident Bills?

Personal Injury

Which Insurance Covers Physical Injuries After a Car Accident?

If you are injured in a car accident, you could end up with numerous medical bills. It doesn’t take long for medical expenses to add up to thousands of dollars or more, and you may wonder how various insurance companies work to cover these costs. If you are involved in a personal injury case, you could be dealing with a situation that involves both car insurance and health insurance, and it can be confusing to know which coverage handles what.

Understanding Medical Payments Coverage in California

One of the first coverages to kick in after an accident is your own medical payments coverage. This is an optional addition to California car insurance coverage that you may purchase. If you or passengers in your car are injured in an accident, your medical payments coverage helps to defray some of the costs of medical care in the immediate aftermath of the collision.

The purpose of medical payments coverage is to ensure that people have access to medical care without worrying about the bills immediately. It can take a while for insurance claims, settlements, or personal injury lawsuits to sort out who was at-fault in an accident so the proper payer can cover expenses and losses, but this optional coverage can pay out faster.

Whose Auto Insurance Covers Injury Expenses?

California is an at-fault state, which means the insurance company for the at-fault driver must ultimately cover the expenses related to a collision for all other parties involved. If the insurance provisions are not enough to cover your losses, you can sue the at-fault driver for additional compensation.

Comparative Negligence in California

California is what is known as a pure comparative negligence state. This means that how much compensation you receive for losses related to an accident can be adjusted according to your own potential negligence.

For example, consider a situation that involves two drivers. One driver commits a rolling stop at an intersection. The other driver was speeding at a high rate while approaching the same intersection. If either driver had not failed to obey traffic laws, the collision between them may have been avoided. Thus, they might both be considered negligent to some degree.

Perhaps in reviewing this case, the court decides that the rolling stop driver was 20% negligent and the speeding driver was 80% negligent. Now say the rolling stop driver was awarded $100,000 in compensation for injuries and damages in the case. He or she would only receive 80% of that compensation, or $80,000, due to their own 20% negligence. In this case, they might be responsible for some of their own medical bills.

Insurance Reimbursements From Settlement Funds

If the medical payments coverage on your auto insurance policy or your health insurance company kicks in to cover any medical bills associated with a collision, these companies may be entitled to reimbursement later. If you receive settlement funds that are meant to cover your medical expenses, you can’t keep the funds if an insurance company has covered those same expenses.

Here’s a hypothetical situation to help you understand how this might work. Say someone is injured in a collision and their health insurance company covers $10,000 in medical bills. Later, the individual settles with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for a total of $50,000 to cover medical expenses and other losses. Their health insurance company is entitled to $10,000 of that settlement as reimbursement for the medical bills it paid.

Medical Liens

You might also deal with what’s called a medical lien related to any settlement funds you receive. A medical lien occurs when medical providers are not paid for services following an accident. This means they have a right to reimbursement out of your settlement funds.

When a personal injury case is settled or a court awards compensation after a trial, your attorney will work to ensure all liens and required insurance reimbursements are satisfied out of your settlement funds. They will also take their own fees out before transferring the remaining amount to you.

Talk to a Personal Injury Attorney About Your Options

Personal injury settlements are never as simple as an insurance company or other entity writing you a check and calling it done. Even the least complex cases could involve waivers and other matters that might seem confusing and could impact your future ability to seek compensation if you discover your injuries were more serious than you first thought.

It’s a good idea to avoid settling immediately with an insurance company after a car accident. Remember that the insurance company is not on your side. It has stakeholders to answer to and is not in business to write large checks to every single person who has a claim against one of its policies. In fact, insurance companies often hire their own lawyers or have attorneys on retainer to help reduce the cost of payouts to protect profits and operating costs.

By working with an experienced personal injury attorney, you can protect your rights and negotiate strongly with insurance company representatives for the compensation you may be owed. For more information about how a personal injury team can help with your case, reach out to the Weinberger Law Firm at 916-520-0476 as soon as possible following a car accident or other personal injury case.

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