After a car accident that was not your fault, you might expect the negligent driver’s insurance company to immediately pay your medical bills. This seems logical and fair. Why should you be responsible for medical bills that are not your fault? But is this the law in Florida? Who pays your medical bills after a car accident?
We will discuss these questions in this post!
Not surprisingly, medical bills can often be one of the biggest sources of stress after a car accident. I see this often in my car accident practice. Let’s now turn to the questions.
Who Pays Your Medical Bills After A Car Accident In Florida?
Under Florida law, your car insurance company is required to provide $10,000 in medical coverage under the Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”) coverages in your policy. Critically, your PIP coverage applies even when the car accident is your fault. So, whether the car accident is your fault – or not – does not matter.
Importantly, in order for your PIP coverage to apply you must seek medical treatment within 14 days of the accident. If you miss this deadline, you will likely waive your rights to PIP coverage.
Who Pays My Medical Bills Over $10,000 In Florida?
After your PIP coverage ends, who pays next?
Generally, you are now responsible for your medical bills. How does this work?
If you have health insurance, your health insurance company will pay for your car accident medical bills. However, your health insurance company has subrogation rights and will seek to recover the monies it paid towards your medical bills. What exactly are subrogation rights?
Subrogation rights are the rights of your health insurance company to be reimbursed for the medical bills it paid in connection with your car accident. Your health insurer’s subrogation rights are found in Florida Statute Section 768.76 and must be followed by car accident lawyers. Specifically, if your health insurer paid medical bills in connection with your car accident, your car accident lawyer must give your health insurer notice of its subrogation rights.
Let’s use a simple example to illustrate.
A negligent driver hits you causing you to incur $25,000 in medical bills. Your PIP coverage paid $10,000 and your health insurer paid for the remainnig $15,000 of your medical bills. You retain a car accident attorney. Under Florida law, your car accident attorney is required to give your heath insurance company written notice of its subrogation rights. Ultimately, your car accident case settles for $100,000. Your car accident attorney advises you that your health insurer has a lien and is seeking $5,000 from the settlement. You car accident attorney will then make payment to your health insurance company from the settlement proceeds.
Do I Have To Pay My Health Insurer For My Car Accident Bills?
Yes, you are legally required to pay back your health insurer under Florida law.
In my practice, many clients are surprised they have to reimburse their health insurance company. I tell them to keep two things in mind.
First, your health insurance company never would have paid the medical expenses but for your accident. Consequently, your health insurance company should be able to recover its costs and expenses caused by the negligent party. Second, your medical bills – while part of your damages – are not truly your expenses. They were paid by you health insurance company. So, your health insurance company should be paid back.
What If You Do Not Have Health Insurance For Your Florida Car Accident?
If you exhausted your $10,000 in PIP coverage and do not have health insurance for your car accident, the medical providers who provided treatment will send you bills and expect to be paid promptly.
However, some medical providers will agree to hold off on any collections if they know you are pursuing a car accident claim.
Additionally, some medical providers will provide medical care in exchange for a letter of protection, or “LOP.” An LOP is a written agreement between the medical provider and patient in which the medical provider will provide medical care with the understanding that it will be paid from the proceeds of the car accident settlement.
When Does The Negligent Driver Pay Medical Bills In Florida?
Importantly, the negligent driver’s insurance company will not pay your medical bills directly. Instead, your medical bills will be paid from your settlement proceeds. Why is this?
Generally, car accident settlements – like other personal injury settlements – include all of your damages, not just your medical bills. Your damages will also include your lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
Because a car accident settlement happens once – not multiple times – the insurance company will pay for all of your damages in one settlement. Again, the settlement will include all of your recoverable damages, including your medical bills.
Can You Negotiate Your Car Accident Medical Bills?
Yes, in most cases you can negotiate your car accident medical bills. Additionally, you can often negotiate your health insurer’s lien. There are some exceptions to these rules, but again in most instances medical bills and liens are negotiable.
It is important to hire a car accident attorney who will help reduce your medical bills. Why is this? Because the more money you save in medical bills means the more money you will receive in the settlement.
Barthelette Law – Florida Car Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one were involved in a car accident, call us today at (561) 246-4137. All consultations are confidential and free of charge.