Since we are accustomed to handing over our health insurance cards when seeing a doctor or going to the hospital, it is confusing to know who pays when you are in a car accident. Florida is a no-fault state. This means that whether the accident was your fault or the fault of the other driver, your auto insurance, NOT your health insurance, will be primarily responsible for paying your accident related medical bills.
Under Florida law, you are required to have personal injury protection (PIP) auto insurance coverage. Most PIP policies will cover 80% of the first $10,000 in medical bills and 60% lost wages. Some policies will have a $2,000 deductible on PIP. I strongly encourage my clients NOT to purchase the policy with the deductible. The savings in your premium is negligible and not worth the poor coverage. Also, remember that recent changes in Florida law require that you seek emergency medical treatment within 2 weeks of your accident in order to be able to claim your full PIP benefits. Florida Statutes 627.736(1)(a).
If you have an accident and your medical bills are paid by PIP, there will not be a lien against any settlement you have with the other driver. However, if your medical bills are paid by your health insurance plan, Medicaid or Medicare, there will be a lien against the settlement proceeds and you may net less in your pocket when you settle. For this reason, I strongly encourage you to have your medical providers submit all of your bills to PIP first before you allow your doctors and the hospital to bill your health insurance. If your doctor will not bill PIP, you may want to find a doctor who will.
You should also be aware that you can purchases medical payment coverage (med pay) as part of your auto insurance. Med pay coverage is typically pays the 20% not paid by PIP plus $5,000 in additional coverage. Some med pay policies will have a lien on the proceeds of your settlement.
I encourage people to hire an attorney when they have an accident since a lawyer will work to have the at fault driver pay any out of pocket expenses that you incur from the accident. This includes any medical bills not paid by PIP or Med pay as well as any liens imposed by your health insurer, Medicaid or Medicare. A good lawyer will negotiate a good settlement, or win a favorable verdict at trial, and then work to reduce the liens and any outstanding medical bills. By doing this, you get the best possible recovery.
Finally, you should know that many doctors will agree to treat you under a “letter of protection” signed by you and your lawyer. This means that if you do not have sufficient PIP or med pay coverage, but a good chance of recovering from the other driver, the doctor will agree to wait to have his bill paid until after you settled. You and your lawyer will be responsible for assuring the doctor that his bills are paid once the case is resolved.
If you have any questions about the payment of your medical bills following your accident, the lawyers at Ludin Law will be happy to discuss it with you without a consultation fee. Call us at 727-572-5000.