If you’ve been injured in a Florida car accident, you will likely need medical treatment to recover from your injuries. One of the most common questions we’re asked is “Should I use my health insurance to pay for medical treatment after a car crash?” The short answer to this question is “Yes.” If you’re lucky enough to have health insurance, you should absolutely use it if the medical provider will accept it.
Why Should My Insurance Pay When the Crash Wasn’t My Fault?
Some people don’t think that they should have to use their health insurance if they weren’t the one who caused the crash. For some, it just doesn’t seem fair to let the at-fault driver’s insurance company “off the hook” when they are the one who should be paying. However, the decision to use your health insurance has nothing to do with fairness, and by using it you’re not letting anyone “off the hook.” What you’re actually doing is helping yourself. Let me explain.
Personal injury claims can take a long time to resolve. When you file a claim with an insurance company for injuries you suffered in a Florida car accident, you don’t immediately make a demand for payment. It can take months, if not longer before you’ll be in a position to make a demand. The time it will take will be dictated by your medical treatment, and also the amount of insurance coverage available. Ultimately, before you send a demand, you will want to know exactly what your injuries are and what your future holds in light of your injuries. However, when you get medical treatment, your medical providers expect to get paid for their services. In most cases, the medical providers don’t care that you have to wait to make a demand to an insurance company. If you don’t use your health insurance (we’ll talk about PIP shortly), you’ll quickly start to receive bills and collection notices. This could potentially damage your credit. However, if you use your health insurance, your providers will get paid right away and you won’t have to worry about falling into debt.
You’ll likely end up paying less for your medical bills. When you have a Florida car accident claim and use your health insurance to pay for medical treatment, your health insurer will place a lien on your claim. What this means is that if you recover money as reimbursement for medical bills, your health insurer will want to be paid back what they paid out for your treatment. When you then settle your case, your attorney will (or at least should – we do this as a service for all of our clients) seek a reduction in the lien amount from your health insurer. We have found that this actually ends up saving our clients money, as the health insurer pays less for your treatment than you would, and then with a reduction in the lien, you pay even less. Whereas, as a cash patient you would be billed much more. Even with a reduction in those bills, we have found that clients still end up paying more.
You’re not letting anyone “off the hook.” If you use your health insurance for your medical treatment after a car accident, you can still recover for your medical bills from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, any amount paid by health insurance will have to be reimbursed.
Will Car Insurance Pay Any of My Medical Bills?
Yes. If you seek treatment for injuries from a car accident, the Personal Injury Protection coverage (PIP) of your car insurance policy will pay 80% of your initial medical bills up to a limit of $10,000, regardless of fault. Any amount over that can be billed to your health insurance. However, in order to be entitled to the full PIP coverage, you must be seen by a medical doctor or chiropractor within the first 14 days after the crash. If you don’t treat within this timeframe, your limit of coverage will drop to $2,500.
In Florida, PIP coverage is mandatory, so every driver is required to have it. If you don’t have car insurance and you are injured in a crash, you will be deemed self-insured for the first $10,000. For example, if you were to go to trial and a jury were to award you damages, the at-fault driver’s insurance will be entitled to offset the verdict for the amount of PIP. If you didn’t have car insurance, the offset will still apply (it will just come out of your pocket) because you were required to have PIP by law, and you didn’t.
What if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Enough Insurance to Pay My Medical Bills?
If the at-fault driver does not have insurance to cover your injuries, or if they don’t have enough coverage to pay your bills, you can then file a claim with your Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, if you have it. We have written before about this coverage. UM/UIM coverage is optional, and must be purchased. If you don’t have it, you can continue to use your health insurance, but there will be no other avenue of insurance to recover from. We recommend that all of our clients buy this coverage, as there are far too many drivers with minimal or no bodily injury coverage.
If you have questions about your Florida accident case, you can download our Free Reports:
which are available on our website, or you can click the link provided. You can also contact us at (813)419-3866 to talk directly to a Riverview personal injury attorney now.