If you suffer an injury in a motor vehicle accident, you've got a lot of concerns. Besides treatment and recovery, you're wondering how long you'll miss work or school, or what's necessary to repair or replace your car. There's also the question of who pays your hospital and doctor bills. Although regulations vary by state, motor vehicle insurance is generally the primary insurance for those expenses.
Liability Insurance Coverage
While you can decide whether or not to insure your car for collision and comprehensive coverage, you don't have that option for liability insurance. That's mandatory in most states, with minimum limits set. Liability insurance helps pay for the medical bills of anyone involved in an accident at which you were at fault, up to the amount of insurance you purchased. If you were not at fault, the other car owner's liability insurance should pay for your medical bills.
Hospital Billing Policies
If you're sent to the emergency room after the accident, you or your representative -- parent, spouse or next-of-kin -- should provide both your automobile and health insurance information. If you were not at fault, the other driver's insurance will pay your medical expenses up to a benefit limit. Once the limit is exceeded, your health insurance should kick in. Hospitals and doctors will file claims with your motor vehicle insurance provider no matter who was at fault. They then contact your health insurance company for the remaining balance of the bill.
Law enforcement officials fill out detailed accident report forms. The insurance companies of all drivers involved in an accident will determine who was at fault based on this and other pertinent information. While state law varies, generally if one driver's actions were responsible for more than half of the reason for the accident, his insurance covers all of those affected by the event. If the accident results from the actions of all drivers, with no individual responsible for more than half, the insurers pay bills for injured persons depending on the extent the driver didn't contribute to the accident. Complicated accident situations usually head to court for a decision.
The Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association website advises what not to do after an accident. Under no circumstances should you agree to "just forget about" the accident. The other party can still sue you. Don't tell others involved in the incident the amount of insurance you carry. If offered money by an involved party, decline it. Accepting money means you might no longer be eligible to file a claim. Even if you feel you may have been at fault, don't apologize. That might be the hardest thing to do, especially when you're truly sorry, but your apology could come back to harm you legally.
- Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association: How Medical Bills Are Paid After an Auto Accident
- Tufts Health Plan: Motor Vehicle Accident Payment Policy
- Baptist Health: Motor Vehicle Accident Guidelines
- High Point Regional UNC Health Care: Motor Vehicle Accident
- Massachusetts Division of Insurance: Frequently Asked Questions About At-Fault Accident Surcharges For Personal Automobile Insurance Policies
A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt's work has appeared in dozens of publications, including Sapling, Zack's, Financial Advisor, nj.com, LegalZoom and The Nest.