AFTER YOUR CAR ACCIDENT, THE MEDICAL BILLS ARE PILING UP, AND YOU’RE WORRIED. “WHO IS GOING TO PAY FOR ALL OF THIS?
If you’ve just been in a car accident, it is important you receive immediate, competent medical treatment. But this medical treatment is expensive, and depending on the severity of your injuries, the bills can pile up extremely fast.
You have several options to pay for medical treatments:
Note that if you use option #1 or 2, or both, that your auto insurance company and/or health insurance company will attempt to seek reimbursement for these costs, if there is another party at fault for these injuries. An experienced personal injury can negotiate these liens down by as much as 30-40% in some cases, saving you a substantial amount of money if you ultimately receive a monetary settlement from the negligent party.
Remember, until the case is settled, YOU are ultimately responsible for any medical bills you incur.
In most cases, yes, there is some form of obligation to reimburse your health insurance company if you win your case. The reasoning is, if your health insurance company paid for your medical care, and you win a case where the defendant also pays for your medical care, the health insurance company should receive a portion of those proceeds.
If you were to keep all of the money from the defendant, and not pay back the insurance company, that would result in a "windfall" for you, since you collected it twice.
The answer to this is very complex. There are seminars and books just on the topic of paying back health insurance companies.
So how much do you have to pay them back? Is it 100%? In California, the insurance company is entitled to a proportionate share if the proceeds are not enough to fully compensate the victim. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in damages (medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering) but only recovered $50,000, then the health insurance company would be entitled to 50% of the amount they paid.
But, this answer changes if the health plan documents contain certain language. The answer also changes if the health plan was provided by your employer, and it changes even further if your employer actually funds the plan with their own money.
As a practical matter, the companies can be negotiated with. They may reduce their demands to compensate for future medical costs, hardships, additional damages paid, and attorney’s fees. Before you settle any accident claim you may want to consult with an experienced San Diego Car Accident Lawyer to determine whether or not reimbursement of your health insurance company will wipe out any settlement and leave you with no compensation for your injuries.