Almost immediately after an auto accident, it can seem like a mountain of medical bills and paperwork falls into your lap. Not included in that stack of papers: an instruction manual on how to handle the whole process.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed after an auto accident in Nebraska, you aren’t alone. Fortunately, there are answers to your questions. We’re here to help you navigate them.
One of the most common questions we hear is: Which insurance is going to pay my medical bills after a car accident?
There’s a long-term answer to this question and also a short-term answer.
The long-term answer is easier, so let’s start there:
The At-Fault Party Is Ultimately Responsible for Paying Your Medical Bills
Nebraska personal injury law requires negligent drivers to pay for the damages they cause. If you’re facing medical bills because of a car accident that someone else caused, that person (and their insurance company) will ultimately be responsible for paying for your medical bills, as well as for any other damages the accident caused.
But You’re Responsible for Paying Them in the Meantime
Unfortunately, the at-fault driver’s insurance company won’t pay for your medical bills right away, nor will they cover them on an ongoing basis.
Rather, you are responsible for covering your medical bills as they arise.
Your claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company could take months to resolve (sometimes years). At the very end of that process, assuming your claim succeeds, you will likely receive a single payment from the insurance company. That payment will be intended to cover all of your damages related to the accident — past, present, and future.
So yes, the at-fault party’s insurance company will have to pay for your medical bills… eventually.
But who pays in the meantime? Even in a moderate auto accident, the medical bills can quickly add up to many thousands of dollars. How can the average person possibly pay for those while waiting for their insurance claim or lawsuit to resolve?
Here’s where we reach the more complicated short-term answer to your question, “Which insurance is going to pay my medical bills after a car accident?” Let’s walk through your options below:
Begin by Letting Your Health Insurance Cover Your Medical Bills
If you have health insurance (either on your own or through a group / employer plan), submit each of your medical bills to your health insurance carrier as soon as they come in.
There are numerous benefits to taking this approach. For starters, it’s the fastest way to get those bills paid without you having to pay anything out of pocket (though you will need to meet any co-pays or deductibles under your health policy).
Moreover, health insurance carriers are often able to negotiate a reduction in the medical bills. That process of negotiation takes place between the health insurance carrier and the medical care provider. You typically don’t have to get in the middle of it, and it won’t affect your claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Once your car insurance claim resolves, the health insurance company will want reimbursement from your settlement or verdict. But they will only be entitled to the reduced amount that they actually paid to the health care provider. You, whereas you will still be able to claim the total amount of the provider’s original bill (prior to the health insurance company’s adjustments) in your claim against the driver’s insurance.
Medical Payments Coverage / Personal Injury Protection
If you are covered under a Medical Payments Coverage policy (commonly referred to as “MedPay”), it will kick in and pay your medical bills as they come in, up to the MedPay policy limits. Or you might have an optional policy provision called Personal Injury Protection (PIP), which performs a similar function but with even more comprehensive coverage.
This is a great option if you don’t have health insurance.
If you do have health insurance, submit your bills to your health insurance carrier first. MedPay can then reimburse you for your co-pays and deductibles (subject to the MedPay policy limits) while you wait for your claim against the other driver to resolve.
You might have a MedPay provision in your own car insurance policy. It is typically available as a low-cost policy option. Many people have MedPay coverage and don’t even realize it. (If you are reading this and don’t know if you have MedPay or PIP as part of your current car insurance policy, we encourage you to call your provider and add it ASAP.)
Note: once your car insurance claim resolves, your MedPay carrier will ask to be reimbursed out of your settlement or verdict.
What If You Don’t Have Enough Health Insurance or MedPay Coverage / PIP?
What happens if you have neither health insurance nor MedPay / PIP? Or if you do have MedPay / PIP, but the policy limits aren’t enough to cover your medical bills?
The absolute worst thing you can do is to ignore the bills. They will not go away. Instead, you will likely end up in the collections process, with unnecessary late fees, legal actions, and a potentially devastating blow to your credit.
Instead, if you find yourself in this situation, reach out to an Omaha personal injury lawyer right away. There may be a number of options available to you. For example, here are some steps we are often able to take on behalf of our clients here at Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop, P.C.:
- Research and recommend health care providers in your area who are willing to work on a “treat now, bill later” arrangement (for example, a medical lien, which gives the provider some assurance they will get paid once your claim resolves).
- Handle any active or pending collections actions on behalf of our clients, with an eye toward keeping our clients completely out of collections with respect to any and all medical bills during the life of the underlying auto accident claim.
- Offer a Letter of Protection to the health care providers, which is a guarantee that our law firm makes that we will pay the medical bills using the funds recovered from an eventual verdict or settlement.
The options available in your situation will depend on the specific circumstances and the parties involved. However, in the majority of our clients’ cases, we have been able to keep our clients entirely out of collections from beginning to end.
Schedule a Free Case Review with an Omaha Auto Accident Lawyer
As you can see, the question of which insurance is going to pay the medical bills after a car accident is complex… but in most situations, you have options. It’s important that you understand those options fully. The best course of action is to contact an experienced Omaha auto accident lawyer as early as possible.
At Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop, P.C., we offer confidential, cost-free, no-obligation case reviews to people who have suffered an auto accident injury in Omaha or elsewhere in Nebraska.
If you hire us, we will not charge a fee unless we are able to recover compensation for you.
Consultations are available in person or over the phone. To talk with an Omaha auto accident lawyer about your legal options, contact Hauptman, O’Brien, Wolf & Lathrop, P.C. Time limits do apply to personal injury claims in Nebraska, so please don’t delay.