Does Health Insurance Cover Car Accidents?

When you need medical care after suffering injuries in a car accident, the process of paying the medical costs can be a little confusing, depending on which party is at fault for the crash. Ultimately, though, the initial payments for your medical care should come from your own health insurance. Even if the accident ended up being the fault of another driver, allowing you to seek an award for negligence against that driver, you should have the hospital or doctors file the bills with your own health insurance to start. Later, should you receive a financial settlement, you then would need to reimburse your health insurance.

Understand that reaching a settlement and recovering compensation from the at-fault party in your accident can potentially take months or even years. In the meantime, you will be responsible for your medical bills. In many cases, if you have private health insurance, your health insurance can make sure your bills get paid while you continue to work on receiving a settlement. If this seems confusing, you can solicit the help of a personal injury accident attorney, who also can help you fight for the compensation amount you deserve from the other driver’s insurance company.

How Your Medical Bills Will Get Paid After an Accident

Although health insurance does cover car accident injuries, it will not cover any of your other damages, such as your pain and suffering or any other non-economic losses. If you experience a serious accident with significant injuries, you should consider holding the negligent driver responsible for all your damages.

However, even when another driver’s negligence caused your accident, you will first and foremost be responsible for your immediate health care costs. You should always first submit your medical bills to your own health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. In some cases, depending on your individual car insurance policy, you may be able to recover reimbursement for some out-of-pocket costs, which could potentially cover co-pays or health insurance deductibles.

Reasons to Submit Car Accident-Related Medical Bills to Your Health Insurance

The negligent party’s car insurance company will pay you only if and when there is a settlement regarding the car accident. This process can take a long time, depending on whether the insurer agrees to an out-of-court settlement or whether your case goes all the way to trial. Most hospitals or doctors, however, want to get paid within a relatively short time frame.  Submitting medical bills to your health insurance can prevent your having unpaid bills hanging over your head and potentially ruining your credit.

What Happens When You Receive Payment from the Negligent Party?

If you submit your medical bills to your health insurance immediately, in many cases the insurance company will ask whether the bills relate to any kind of an accident. Eventually, if the negligent party’s insurance company gives you an award for your personal injury claim, it probably will be more than what your private health insurance company paid for your medical bills. After you reimburse your health insurance company for its costs, you keep the difference as part of your compensation.

The first time you go through this type of situation, it can be quite confusing. Consider speaking with a personal injury attorney to figure out exactly how and to which entity you should submit your medical bills, as well as learning more about how much compensation you deserve for your car accident.

Carefully Consider Out-of-Court Settlements

Most personal injury claims are resolved out of court, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS). In fact, the negligent party’s insurance company may approach a car accident victim with the idea of settling quickly. However, you must be careful and investigate the offer thoroughly before committing to a quick settlement agreement. Generally, the insurance companies will attempt to pay as little as possible to victims of car accidents.

What may look like a good offer could turn out to be completely inadequate, especially if you may need costly future medical treatments. Consider also that once you sign an agreement with the insurance company regarding a settlement, you lose the ability to seek any additional financial awards in the future for injuries related to the accident, should your doctor discover some new injuries, or your recovery take longer than anticipated, or your pain continue to bother you beyond what you thought would happen.

Reaching a Quick Settlement May Cost You Money in the Long Run

As another consideration, if you settle your case fast but for a smaller amount than you might need for your medical bills, your health insurance provider may balk at continuing to pay for any health problems related to the crash. The health insurance company does not want to incur expenses for your medical care that the other party should pay, so if you settle early and leave money on the table, you may find issues with having health insurance pay for your care in the future.

Ultimately, you should wait to settle your case until doctors diagnose all your injuries and until you have a plan in place for the ongoing medical care that you will need. Settling early is certainly tempting, as many people would prefer to put the memory of the injuries they suffered in the accident behind them. However, you need to be certain you are receiving every dollar that you deserve to have and that you need for your health care costs. Patience is a key component of any car accident settlement case.

You Might Need to File a Car Accident Personal Injury Lawsuit

If the negligent driver’s insurance company is taking an unreasonable amount of time to provide you with full and fair compensation, and if you are unable to negotiate an out-of-court settlement, you can take the case to court. However, to qualify to go to court, you must file your lawsuit within the statute of limitations for your state, barring any rare exceptions for which you may qualify. Missing the statute of limitations almost certainly will eliminate your eligibility to seek damages through a court case. Without the threat of a trial, the insurance company has little incentive to negotiate with you fairly when you are seeking a settlement outside of court.

  • Minnesota: In Minnesota, you have six years to file the lawsuit after the injuries you suffered in a motor vehicle crash, according to Minnesota Statute § 541.05.
  • Wisconsin: In Wisconsin, you have three years to file the lawsuit after injuries in a car crash, according to Wisconsin Statute § 893.54.

Filing the lawsuit does not mean that the case will absolutely go to court. It also does not place a deadline on when you must settle the case. It simply informs the negligent party and the insurance company that you are protecting your right to seek compensation. You should file the lawsuit as soon after the accident as possible, even if, at that time, you have no intention of taking the case to trial. You do not want to make an error in this step, so you may want to seek the help of a trusted car accident injury law firm to ensure that your case remains on track and that you are following all requirements to maintain your eligibility to receive an award.

Awards That You Could Win in Your Car Accident Claim

Whether in a court case or in a settlement outside of court, you could potentially seek the following damages:

  • Current and future medical bills
  • Current and future income losses
  • Physical therapy
  • Medical equipment
  • Awards for pain and suffering
  • Awards for reduced quality of life.

You could also potentially recover additional damages, depending on the severity of your injuries and the circumstances of the accident. A dedicated and experienced car accident attorney can help you with all aspects of recovering your award, including filing the lawsuit on time.

Tyroler Leonard Injury Law Will Fight for Your Rights

Experiencing painful and costly injuries in a car accident because of someone else’s negligence and recklessness can be frustrating. Even if your health insurance covers your primary medical costs, you will most likely be responsible for any co-pays and deductibles, as well as other incidentals that your health insurance will not cover. Those bills can mount up frighteningly quickly.

Tyroler Leonard Injury Law can analyze your car accident and help you understand your legal options. Having an experienced personal injury lawyer in your corner fighting for the best possible outcome and for the compensation you deserve can give you peace of mind. Contact Tyroler Leonard Injury Law today for a free consultation at (651) 259-1113. Let us focus on helping you win the legal battle and your financial settlement, so you can focus on spending time with your family and on recovering your health.

Attorney Isaac Tyroler

Attorney Isaac Tyroler has been a strong advocate for injured people his entire legal career. He has a passion for righting wrongs, and he deeply cares about representing injured clients who may feel overwhelmed or uncertain about how to navigate the legal system. He is compassionate toward clients and aggressive with insurance companies and defendants. He is on the elected Board of Governors of the Minnesota Association of Justice (MAJ), the top personal injury lawyers’ group in Minnesota. And is currently the chair of MAJ’s legislative committee. [ Attorney Bio ]