Generally, there are three ways your medical bills can be paid if you are injured in a Colorado car accident.
The first is if you have medical payments, “medpay”, on your own auto policy or are a passenger in a vehicle involved in the accident that the owner and/or driver has a medpay policy. Medpay works like the old no-fault or PIP policies that no longer exist in Colorado. Medpay, through the auto insurance, will pay for medical bills regardless of fault. Sometimes, folks have medpay on their auto policies and don’t even realize that they do. It is usually a small amount – $1000-$5000 but some carrier allow for substantially more. Here’s the good news about medpay. New laws in Colorado state that your medpay provider has no right to be repaid from any recovery or settlement. In addition, the at fault driver’s insurance company is not supposed to consider or discount a settlement due to the fact that medpay has paid for some or all of your bills. If you are unsure if you have medpay, give us a call and we will be happy to provide an insurance policy review for you.
The second is health insurance. The catch (Isn’t there always?) is the health insurance company paying your medical bills almost always has a right to subrogation or a lien on any settlement or judgment. What does that mean? It can be complicated depending on the type of insurance policy. Basically, if you do not pay the health insurer back out of any settlement or judgment, you risk losing your health insurance benefits or may even be sued. Maximizing your financial recovery requires a skilled negotiator to reduce the health insurance company’s lien or subrogation claim.
The third is by companies that financing injury health care and/or getting treatment on a lien. There are some wonderful companies that will pay for your healthcare for you and wait to be repaid until you get a settlement or judgment. These companies pay your bills and take a lien or security interest in the case ensuring that they will be paid back. Most of these companies have an extensive list of providers including surgeons and other specialists that can help you. In addition, there are some doctors willing to treat on a lien. However, it is important not to have your lawyer direct your healthcare or send you to their favorite doctors. Lawyer directed treatment is the kiss of death for an injury claim. The injury finance companies and most doctors willing to treat on a lien will require you to have a lawyer.
Ultimately, the at-fault driver and his insurance company are responsible for the paying of all of your medical bills. However, they will not pay your bills as you get them and health providers can not bill them directly. Don’t be misled by an insurance adjuster or representative who promises to take care of your medical bills. You will be disappointed.