Dealing with insurance can be overwhelming right after an accident—especially when you’ve sustained injuries and are not sure which one of your insurance companies will help. Since it will not take long for your medical bills to start rolling in and piling up, you should be prepared ahead of time with what to do in case you are involved in a Tulsa car accident. Despite what some hospitals or insurance companies may recommend or insinuate, just remember that you almost always have options.
For example, you likely already know how to use your auto insurance to help cover car accident expenses, but you may not be aware that you could have the option of using your health insurance instead. No matter which you use, you will be responsible for paying your medical bills until the case us resolved either through settlement or trial. The general information below can help guide people through the otherwise cumbersome and complex maze of incidents-related expenses and insurance.
First, remember that Oklahoma is an at-fault state
Being an at-fault state means that it is up to the person who caused the car accident to pay damages. Fault is typically determined by law enforcement after an investigation and deciding whether the other driver drove recklessly or violated any traffic laws. If the accident is not your fault and you get injured, the person who caused the accident will be responsible for paying your damages, like medical bills, one way or another.
It sounds pretty easy if this was the kind of accident you were involved in. However, it can take a long time for insurance companies to get all of your claims straightened out and paid. If you hold off on making any kind of bill payments until the responsible party’s insurance clears everything, you could be racking up some serious debt and run the risk of it going into collections and onto your credit report.
Or if you delay treatment until insurance claims start processing, you could be reducing your chances of getting reimbursed at all due to a perceived gap in medical care in relation to the date of the incident. With that said, it is important to always seek medical treatment immediately after an accident and stay on top of your medical bill payments to avoid further legal troubles.
A qualified Tulsa car accident lawyer will work with your insurance company and help you get reimbursed for medical payments you made or help you get compensated for any future medical-related costs that may arise in the future. It is also possible for bills to be held until the case is resolved if certain arrangements are made with medical providers, thereby eliminating the risk of being turned over to a collection agency.
When to use auto insurance vs. health insurance after a Tulsa car accident
Both auto insurance and health insurance can help cover the cost of damages after an accident, but there are a few noteworthy differences between them.
As many people probably know, auto insurance will help cover the cost of repairing property damage after an accident. Depending on the circumstances, they will either cover the cost of repairing your car or the other driver’s. However, auto insurance generally will not cover medical expenses unless the driver elected to include an additional coverage option while enrolling in their auto insurance plan.
Many auto insurance providers offer the option of including coverage for medical expenses up to a certain policy limit. This type of coverage is often called “medical expense coverage” or simply “MedPay,” and it is typically available to use regardless of who was responsible for the accident. MedPay will help cover medical expenses, like:
- Health insurance deductibles
- Doctor visits
- Ambulance transportation
There are some pretty neat features for MedPay. First, it “follows” you, not the car. So if you have this coverage and you get hurt driving a rental, you can still use it. You can even use it if you’re the one who caused the accident. Second, your own MedPay is not subject to subrogation. Basically, that means that you don’t have to reimburse anyone after you win your case. And finally, using your MedPay won’t cause your car insurance premiums to rise.
While MedPay is a valuable coverage to have it is not mandated by law and like all coverages, causes an increase in premiums if it is added by an insured. Because it is an optional addition to your policy that an insured must affirmatively purchase, it is not something that every driver has. If the driver does add MedPay to their policy, they also are required to choose the amount of the coverage they would like to purchase. Higher coverage limits are understandably more expensive while lower coverage limits are more affordable; so, it is likely that a good portion of drivers opted for a lower coverage limit—if they have it at all.
And since MedPay does not come standard with auto insurance, much thought may not have been put into deciding on the best coverage limit. If the limit is low, using MedPay through auto insurance could leave the driver with a high remaining balance. MedPay would pay the max policy limit amount to cover the cost of injuries sustained in a Tulsa car accident, but the driver could still owe thousands more afterwards.
What does health insurance cover?
Many people have a health insurance plan through their employer or their own private plan. Health insurance covers most of the same things that MedPay does, like:
- Doctor visits
- Ambulance transportation
With any health insurance plan, you can pretty easily submit a claim to your insurance provider for payment. Many times, doctors or hospitals will do this for you before you even receive a bill. You may still be responsible for some out-of-pocket costs, like copays or deductibles, but your insurance provider will often cover the bulk of the bill, leaving you personally with a much lower payment. Hospitals may ask you to fill out your auto insurance information when you check in, but you do have the option to leave it blank and only provide your health insurance information instead so that only your health insurance will be used.
The only thing to keep in mind when it comes to using health insurance to cover medical costs after a car accident in Tulsa is that the health insurance provider will be entitled to be paid back after settlement. This right of recovery is called subrogation. If there’s any silver lining to this, though, it’s that medical insurance payments are typically lower than car insurance payments pursuant to their contractual reimbursement rates. Governmental insurers like Medicaid and Medicare have specific policies that must be followed when incident-related bills are paid by them.
There are pros and cons of utilizing health insurance for an Oklahoma personal injury claim. A thorough analysis of your case by an experienced personal injury attorney will allow any injured person to ultimately decide if, when and how to use any insurance coverages available to them. For some cases, it may be beneficial to avoid using health insurance altogether, but the decision to do so should only be made after numerous variables are taken into consideration.
If you suffered an injury in a car accident that was caused by someone else’s negligence you likely are entitled to compensation for medical treatment and care. Do not accept any premature settlement offers by the responsible party’s insurance company until you’ve talked with a legal professional. The Tulsa car accident lawyers at Biby Law Firm understand what’s at stake and are experienced at handling injury claims and securing the maximum compensation for our clients. Call our office or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
Jacob Biby has spent his legal career helping folks just like you get the resources they need after a personal injury, car accident, or oil field injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 2008. Jacob is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state and federal courts. Learn more about Jacob Biby.