Personal Injury

I was injured in a car accident. What do I do with all of my medical bills?

We have addressed this issue before, but it’s worth discussing again, as the question of what to do with your medical bills after being injured in a car crash is always one of the first questions we get from new clients. Medical bills can be overwhelming. One trip to the ER, and you may be receiving bills from three to four different medical providers.

If your treatment is due to injuries you received as the result of a motor vehicle accident you should first submit all of your bills to your health insurance provider. Injury claims can take months, if not years, to resolve, and you want to make sure your bills are paid sooner versus later. With most third-party injury claims, the auto insurance carrier is not going to make payment on any of your medical bills until you have settled your claim and signed a release or you have received a successful verdict at trial. Submitting your bills through health insurance helps make sure the bills are paid in a timely fashion.

In addition, submitting your bills through health insurance can also help your bottom line later on. Health insurance providers have negotiated contracts with most medical treatment providers, and when your bills are processed through health insurance you receive the benefit of those negotiated contractual adjustments. In many states, including Nebraska, the measure of damages for medical expenses at trial is the private party rate, not the discounted amount after the bills have been processed through insurance. See Neb. Rev. Stat. Section 52-401. This means that submitting your bills to health insurance early on can result in you receiving a larger net recovery at the end of your case.

Last, there are many factors that affect a health insurance carrier’s right to subrogation. Subrogation is when an insurance carrier is entitled to reimbursement for payments they have made on behalf of an insured for injuries that were caused by a third party. In theory, subrogation is supposed to come from the at-fault party, however, there are many laws and facts that affect how much reimbursement a health insurance company is entitled to, or whether the company is entitled to any reimbursement at all. In addition to making sure your bills are paid and taking advantage of any contractual adjustments, submitting your bills through health insurance can make a big difference in your net settlement amount in situations where the health insurance provider is not entitled to full reimbursement or sometimes, no reimbursement at all.

If you have been injured in a car accident, make sure all of your medical treatment providers have your health insurance information on file. Speak with your personal injury attorney early on regarding how bills should be handled and the use of health insurance, as well as any potential additional coverages such as medical payments coverage.

Chandler | Conway

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