Can You Pursue a Car Accident Lawsuit if Your Medical Bills Were Covered by Health Insurance?

doctor examining his patient's knee

Many people assume that if they suffer injuries in a car accident, their health insurance will cover their medical bills. Although this is not incorrect, it is important to understand that there is a specific order when it comes to the coverages that are responsible for paying your medical expenses. Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is typically first in line before your own health insurance applies. However, the at-fault driver’s insurance company will ultimately be responsible for paying the medical bills that have been incurred as a result of their negligence.

How Are Medical Bills Paid After a Car Accident?

Medical expenses in connection with a car crash can be significant. If you have PIP coverage as part of your insurance policy, it will be first in line to pay for your accident-related healthcare. Once the limits have been exhausted, your health insurance can be used to pay these bills. Nevertheless, Washington holds negligent drivers accountable for the payment of damages they caused — this includes a victim’s medical bills.

Medical bills after a car accident can be paid in the following ways:

  • Your auto insurance — Basic PIP is included in most car insurance policies for Washington drivers. This often pays up to $10,000 or more in medical expenses incurred in an accident. It can also cover part of your lost wages while you are out of work due to your injuries.
  • Private health insurance or Medicare/Medicaid — If you do not have PIP coverage or your medical expenses exceed your policy limits, you can use your own health insurance to cover the expenses incurred.
  • Liability insurance from the at-fault party — In Washington, drivers must have bodily injury liability coverage in the amount of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident.

Can You Still Pursue a Personal Injury Action if Your Medical Expenses Were Covered by Health Insurance?

If your health insurance kicks in to cover your medical expenses, you can still pursue a personal injury claim after a car crash if someone else’s negligence caused your injuries. However, the insurance company may assert a lien on your personal injury settlement if you used your health insurance to pay your medical bills after a car accident. Critically, a knowledgeable personal injury attorney may be able to negotiate a reduction of the lien, depending on the specific factors in your case.

Another consideration is that when your health insurance covers your medical bills after a car accident, you are usually required to meet a deductible or make a co-pay. By prevailing in a personal injury action, you can recover these out-of-pocket costs. In addition, health insurance will only pay your medical bills — it will not compensate you for the pain and suffering you endured in connection with your accident-related injuries nor any lost wages. Non-economic damages such as pain and suffering are typically awarded in a personal injury action, and often comprise the largest portion of a settlement.

Contact an Experienced Washington Personal Injury Attorney

Medical bills after a car accident can be substantial and it is crucial to have a skillful personal injury attorney by your side to maximize your compensation. The Bellingham personal injury attorneys at Robinson & Kole provide dedicated counsel to car accident victims throughout Washington State and strive to obtain the best possible outcome in every case. We welcome you to contact us for a free consultation by calling 800.640.5616 or by using our online contact form. Se habla Español.