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Who Pays Medical Bills in a Car Accident?

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If you’re injured in a car accident, you might face mounting medical bills. And if someone else caused that collision, you may wonder who pays medical bills in a car accident. In Arkansas, you have a few ways to pay for your medical bills after a collision. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook can help you evaluate your options so that you can make the best choice for your unique situation.

Who Pays Medical Bills in a Car Accident?

So who pays medical bills in a car accident? If you’re injured in a collision in Arkansas, you have a few options when it comes to paying your medical bills afterward.

First of all, even if someone else caused the collision, it doesn’t make sense to wait for the at-fault driver’s insurance company to pay your bills. Auto accident injury claims can take months or even years to be resolved, so waiting would be impractical. This leaves you with three options:

  • Your health insurance
  • Personal injury protection or Med Pay through your auto insurance policy
  • Pay out of pocket

Health Insurance

First of all, if you have health insurance, you should use it to pay for your medical expenses instead of waiting in the hope that they will be paid for later through a settlement or verdict. It is common for medical providers to require that you have health insurance before they will treat you. Some doctors will not see car accident injury victims unless they have health insurance because they fear that they will not be paid out of a future settlement. In addition, paying your medical expenses with your health insurance will prevent you from amassing medical debt, which can harm your credit score.

Later, your medical insurance provider may file a subrogation lawsuit to recover money that it has paid for your care out of your settlement or award. However, medical insurance companies are subject to the made-whole doctrine. This doctrine states that you must have been fully compensated for all of your losses and have received excess money beyond what was needed for your losses before your insurance company can seek to recover money. In other words, you will first have to be paid all of your medical expenses, income losses, future expected medical expenses, future losses in your ability to earn an income, pain and suffering, and any other losses before your insurance company can recover money out of your settlement. A court will determine whether you have been “made whole” or you must agree to that fact, which means that the insurance company is unlikely to seek subrogation of your settlement.

Med Pay in Arkansas

In Arkansas, insurance companies are mandated to offer Med Pay coverage to their insured. If you do not want this coverage, you must sign a waiver so that it won’t be included in your policy. Med Pay, which is also commonly known as personal injury protection (PIP), offers no-fault coverage (up to $5,000) for bodily injury in car accidents. If you have this type of coverage, you have the right to file a claim for it with your own insurance company regardless of whether the collision was your fault or the fault of another driver.

If you have Med Pay, it makes sense for you to file a claim with your own insurance company while your personal injury claim against an at-fault driver is pending. Remember that it can take months or years for a personal injury claim to reach a settlement or verdict.

If you win your case, your insurance company will have the right to seek subrogation of your settlement or award. However, the company will only be able to recover the money that it paid for your medical care if you have been made whole under the made-whole doctrine, which means that they will not be able to recover from you unless you receive more money than is necessary to be made whole.

Paying Out of Pocket

If you pay for your medical expenses out of pocket, you may be reimbursed if your claim is favorably settled or reaches an advantageous verdict. However, it is better to rely on your health insurance and Med Pay coverage. There is not a guarantee that your claim will be resolved in your favor. If it is not, you will not be reimbursed for the money that you paid on your own. Paying out of pocket also means that you will not have the benefit of having that money available to you during the time between your accident and the resolution of your claim.

Contact the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook

Dealing with insurance companies after a car accident can be frustrating. If you have been injured and are wondering who pays medical bills in a car accident, you should use your own health insurance and medical payments benefits to pay your expenses as they accrue rather than waiting in the hopes that your claim will be resolved in your favor. To learn more about your compensation rights, contact the Law Offices of Craig L. Cook to schedule a consultation by calling 479-783-8000.