You’ve been in a car accident, you’re hurt and you need medical attention. But you are concerned about getting medical care because you don’t know who will pay for it.
You have insurance on your car, but you really don’t understand the different types of coverage that are available to you.
Will your car insurance cover your medical bills? That depends on what state your vehicle is insured in. Some states require car owners to carry “no-fault” coverage on their vehicles, while other states do not. As the name implies, no-fault insurance pays for medical expenses incurred by the owner of the vehicle as a result of an accident, no matter who caused the accident. Even if the owner caused the accident, his or her no-fault coverage will pay for the reasonable medical expenses incurred as a result of the accident, subject to certain limitations. The coverage usually extends to resident relatives of the owner and it will also usually extend to passengers in the vehicle if the passenger doesn’t own a vehicle in their own name. As of 2016, the states that have some form of no-fault insurance requirement are Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Dakota, Oregon, and Utah. In Kentucky, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, no-fault insurance is optional. It is up to the individual to decide if they want to purchase it.
Each state has a different dollar limit on the amount of no-fault insurance available to an injury victim. For example, in Florida, no-fault insurance is capped at $10,000 and can be used to reimburse an injury victim for their lost wages, as well as for their medical expenses. New York also allows for reimbursement of lost wages under its no-fault system, but caps the maximum payout at $50,000 with a maximum of $2,000 a month for lost wages, unless you buy additional coverage.
If you have health insurance, your health insurer is also a source of payment for your medical bills. However, if you have no-fault coverage available to you, the no-fault coverage is usually primary and your health insurance is usually secondary. What that means is that your no-fault coverage has to pay your bills first and if there is still a balance owed, or if your no-fault coverage has been exhausted, then and only then will your health insurance pay medical bills incurred as a result of a car accident.
Most no-fault states also limit your right to bring a claim against someone else that may have been at fault for an accident. In many no-fault states you must prove you suffered a significant injury before you can bring a claim for your pain and suffering against another driver. What constitutes a significant injury varies from state to state, but in general, the injury must be permanent or disabling. In some other no-fault states, you must have incurred a certain dollar amount of medical expenses as result of the accident before you can bring a pain-and-suffering claim against someone else. For example, in Kansas you must either prove you have a permanent injury or have incurred at least $2000 in medical expenses due to an auto accident before you can bring a pain-and-suffering claim against an at-fault driver.
If you have been involved in an auto accident, it is recommended that you consult with a car accident lawyer for specific information relating to your claim.