I just got in a car accident, who is going to pay my medical bills?

Car Accident Related Medical Expenses

By Arne Cherkoss

Generally speaking, the insurance company covering the car you were in at the time of the car accident will cover your medical bills, at least initially.  This is called PIP, or Personal Injury Protection.  You may recall that PIP is available regardless of fault.  Please see my other blogs covering PIP for more detail.

Are there limits to how long PIP will pay or how much it will cover?

Yes.  PIP usually covers accident related medical expenses incurred within the first year following the accident.  Often times the amount of PIP benefits purchased by the insured is inadequate to cover all the medical expenses.  In that scenario the PIP benefits are said to have exhausted.  Reminder:  Call your insurance carrier and raise your PIP limits.  The minimum in Oregon is $15,000 in PIP coverage.  That will not cover much if you are involved in a serious auto accident.

I just got in a car accident, who is going to pay my medical bills?Another way to lose PIP benefits is by being cut off by the insurance company.  The PIP insurance company may have you examined by a doctor of its choosing.  The insurance companies call this an “independent medical examination.”  My experience is that these “independent” medical exams are generally slanted towards the insurance company.  The insurance doctor will usually blame the ongoing injuries on anything other than the auto accident.  If the “independent” doctor concludes that the need for treatment is unrelated to the auto accident, the insurance company will stop paying.

If the PIP year runs, the PIP benefits exhaust, or PIP stops paying, the next insurance in line to pay for accident related medical expenses is health insurance.  Health insurance generally will not cover medical bills until PIP is no longer paying.

 PIP ran out and I don’t have health insurance.  Now what?

Under this scenario, you will be responsible for paying for your ongoing medical treatment.  It is a good idea to speak with the health care providers and ask about working out a payment plan while you are still treating or ask whether they can put the bill on hold pending settlement of your case.

Of course there are other intricacies involved in the payment of automobile accident bills.  This blog is just meant to give you a brief sketch of who pays for accident related medical bills and the pecking order for who goes first.  I hope this sheds some light on this issue.  Remember, raise your insurance limits!