There are many things that you will be wondering after you are hurt in a serious motor vehicle accident. In addition to wondering what the road to recovery will look like for you, you will also most likely be wondering how all of your medical treatment will be paid. Unfortunately, the insurance company for the at-fault driver will not pay your medical bills up front. Even if the accident was not your fault, you’ll likely have to pay your bills out of pocket until you reach a settlement or obtain a verdict. Thankfully, there are many options for covering your bills here in Colorado.
Generally, there are three parties that will cover your medical bills when you have been in an accident, your health insurance provider (including Medicare and Medicaid), your auto insurance provider, and the auto insurance provider of the driver who injured you.
Step 1: Submit your bills to your health insurance provider first.
The first party that you should turn to for financial assistance after you have been injured in an accident is your health insurance company. Depending on your levels of coverage, you will have to pay some portion of your expenses, up to your deductible, along with co-pays, while the remaining balance will be paid for by your health insurance coverage. However, as you will see in steps 2 and 3 below, you can recoup the money you spent on your deductibles, co-pays and medical services not covered by health insurance. Be wary that your health insurer, Medicare and Medicaid all have rights of subrogation for reimbursement from you if you ultimately recover money for your medical bills from the insurance company for the driver that caused your harm or from your underinsured motorist coverage.
Step 2: Send any remaining bills to your auto insurance provider.
Auto insurance companies are required under Colorado law to offer up to $5,000 of medical expenses for unexpected motor vehicle accidents. This medical payment coverage, called “Med Pay” for short, will more than likely not be sufficient for all of the treatment that you receive from your accident, but it can fill some important gaps in your health insurance coverage and cover items like chiropractic care that may not be covered by your health insurer. Importantly, in Colorado, you do not have to pay back your med pay provider for claims that Med Pay covers, even if you receive compensation from the responsible driver’s auto insurer for the same medical bills.
Step 3: Get compensation from the driver who injured you and their insurance company.
The final step is for you to submit a demand for settlement or file a lawsuit against the driver who hurt you to get compensation to cover the damages related to the injuries and damages you sustained from their actions. If you are successful in your demand for settlement or the lawsuit against the driver, their auto insurance provider will be responsible for paying the damages to you, up to their policy limits, whether they come from a settlement or jury verdict. Any damages over and above the at-fault driver’s insurance limits may be covered by your underinsured motorist coverage. These damages include your medical bills, past and future lost income, pain and suffering, future medical expenses, damages for any scarring, disfigurement or permanent impairments and damage to your property.
Because the rules regarding health insurance subrogation can be complicated as it relates to reimbursement rights following a settlement or verdict, make certain you contact an experienced personal injury attorney before you sign any documents related to your claim.