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How are Medical Expenses Paid in an Auto Accident?

Getting your medical expenses paid after an auto accident can be almost as frustrating as the injury itself.  Knowing the law in your jurisdiction is critical in getting your bills paid timely and avoiding the headaches of dealing with billing departments and even collection agencies.

DO YOU LIVE IN A NO-FAULT STATE?

Auto accidents in Utah are controlled by the State’s no-fault legislation.  Many people are confused as to what it means to have no-fault coverage.  The advantage of no-fault insurance is having immediate coverage for medical expenses without the need to establish who is at fault.  In Utah each driver, of a self-propelled vehicle, is required to carry no-fault insurance for any person in his vehicle and any pedestrian injured as the result of an accident.  Your own auto insurance pays a minimum of the first $3,000.00 of your medical expenses without any copay or deductible.  You are also covered for a percentage of your lost wages for up to 52 weeks following the accident and a small daily stipend to help pay for household services you are unable to perform because of accident related injuries.  Getting all the benefits you are entitled to under your auto policy can be complicated and it is best to consult with an experienced Utah auto accident lawyer to get the benefits you are entitled to.  A competent attorney can guide you in applying for your benefits and may be able counsel you as to what type of treatment or physician see following your accident.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER NO-FAULT COVERAGE IS EXHAUSTED?

Your medical insurance becomes liable for your medical bills only after your no-fault, automobile, medical coverage is exhausted.  You must provide evidence, to your medical insurance, that your no-fault, automobile, medical, coverage has been exhausted.  Failure to do so will give your medical insurance the right to deny you coverage and leave you with uncompensated physicians and aggressive billing departments.  An experienced personal injury attorney can contact your health insurer for you and facilitate the smooth transition between your no-fault, automobile, medical coverage and your medical insurance.

DO YOU HAVE TO PAY BACK MEDICAL INSURANCE COMPANIES IF YOU WIN YOUR LAWSUIT OR RECEIVE A SETTLEMENT?

Almost all medical insurance, (and especially Medicaid and Medicare) have either contractual or statutory rights to be paid back for any medical treatment they cover which was necessitated by the negligence of a third party.  This right to be paid back is called subrogation.  It is not uncommon for a health insurer to require that you recognize its right to be paid back first out of any settlement that you receive from a negligent third party.  Failure to honor your health insurer’s right to be paid back can expose you to civil liability and threaten your future insurability until those expenses have been paid back.  A competent automobile accident attorney will always negotiate the amount to be paid back to your health insurer as part of your case resolution.  He can almost always reduce the health insurer’s right to be paid back by 1/3 and many times even more based on issues of liability or limited available insurance to pay for all the damages you may have suffered.

WHAT IF YOU HAVE NO HEALTH OR AUTO INSURANCE TO COVER YOU FOR INJURIES CAUSED BY THE NEGLIGENCE OF A THIRD PARTY?

It is never a good idea to drive an automobile without insurance.  Nevertheless, if you have been injured in an automobile accident, emergency treatment can never be denied by a hospital because you are uninsured.  That does not mean that they will not try to sue you collect for the uninsured treatment they rendered.  Paying for the initial treatment and trying to find a medical provider to continue treating you for your non-emergent needs can be challenging.  If you find yourself injured, by a negligent third party, and have no insurance, contact an experienced personal injury attorney.  He can, in many cases, get the medical providers to take a lien against your case, not only for the emergent care rendered after the accident but for ongoing treatment as well.


logormThanks to our friends and co-contributors at Rasmussen & Miner for their insight into medical expenses after an auto accident.

About the Author

Steve Harrelson
Steve Harrelson
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