Car accidents have far reaching effects - not just physically but mentally as well - and once you’ve been in an accident, it can be difficult to know what to do next, especially when it comes to covering the costs. When you’ve been injured in a car accident, which expenses will be covered by an auto insurance policy and which will be covered by a health insurance policy? Is there a difference? Does health insurance cover car accidents? We’re here to answer everything you need to know.
Bodily Injury Liability
The short answer is, no, health insurance does not cover all expenses in car accidents. For at-fault states like Mississippi, the at-fault driver often has to pay the damages caused in the crash. The at-fault driver should have bodily injury liability insurance, and that will cover any medical expenses that occur in a car accident, and any repairs to the damaged vehicle should be covered by the at-fault driver’s property damage liability portion of their car insurance. What you’d receive in payouts if you were the injured party (not at-fault) depends on each state and the level of “negligence” determined. If all of your medical expenses aren’t covered by a car insurance policy, you might be without enough insurance to pay for injuries.
Who’s at Fault? Pure Comparative Negligence
Mississippi adheres to pure comparative negligence, which means drivers can recoup losses in proportion (in percentage terms) to how at-fault they were in the accident. If your collision, for example, cost $1,000 and it was determined you were 75% at fault, you can file a claim to recoup the remaining 25% of damages, which translates to $250 in settlement from the other driver’s insurance. It’s difficult, however, to determine definitively the percentage of “fault” for each driver.
Auto Insurance Medical Policies
Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
PIP usually has a low limit, and pays for injuries sustained in a car accident, but it may simply augment a health insurance policy. It often only covers the medical deductible, but may pay for a full doctor’s visit if the expenses aren’t too high.
PIP will cover medical costs and lost wages, funeral expenses, child care, and household maintenance.
Bodily Injury Liability
Bodily injury liability covers the injuries that a person causes to someone else (yours or the other driver, depending). The coverage has no deductible and pays up to a limit, but once the limit is reached, the insurance company won’t pay out more.
This type of insurance will not cover your own injuries. It will only cover another party. The at-fault driver will cover your medical expenses. If you’re at fault, then PIP or medical payments will cover your injuries.
Medical Payments Coverage
Medical payments coverage is a first-party insurance like PIP, but has higher limits so it can cover more expenses. This type of insurance is most seen in no-fault states where your own insurance is required to pay for medical costs, and you cannot claim third-party.
If PIP doesn’t cover all of your injury-related costs, then medical payments coverage will cover medical costs and funeral expenses, but not lost wages or other items covered by PIP.
Uninsured or Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage can replace bodily injury liability if a person is involved in an accident with someone who has no insurance or insufficient insurance to cover the accident.
When Health Insurance Will Cover Accident Injuries
If no other auto insurance policy will cover the cost of injuries, medical insurance will pay for injuries as a last resort. The health insurance company will wait, however, to see if the other party is at fault and if their insurance will cover the costs first. They won’t move forward with a claim unless all other claims have been denied, so it can take a long time to have any medical expenses covered by health insurance.
Many medical providers are familiar with the process, and this waiting game does not mean you won’t be treated. You’ll be treated up front and then be billed later for anything not covered by some form of insurance. Of course, these unexpected costs that crop up later can be disconcerting and stressful.
Paperwork at the Doctor’s Office or Hospital
If your injuries are caused by a car accident, the doctor’s office or hospital staff will ask you to fill out specific paperwork that will ask for information about your medical insurance, car insurance, and any policies of any other involved parties - if applicable. This paperwork will help the medical provider determine who should be billed for treatment and which department to contact within the insurance companies. These claims will be done behind the scenes, and often do not require your involvement.
Injury adjusters from your insurance company will determine which coverages apply where, and how the settlement is handled. There are many variables and each claim is different. Ask your adjuster any questions you have and ask for assistance if you need.
Mississippi Auto Insurance Requirements
In Mississippi, vehicles must carry minimum coverage to operate in the state:
- $25,000 per person for bodily injury
- $50,000 per accident for bodily injury if more than one person is hurt
- $25,000 per accident for property damage
So if your medical expenses do not exceed $25,000 (or $50,000 for more than one person), medical expenses will be covered without having to deal with health insurance, assuming you’d be awarded the full amount of coverage in your settlement.
In 2013, the average auto liability claim was $3,231, and the average bodily injury claim was $15,443. Private insurers note that individual victims are often required to pay nearly 26% of their own costs, and health insurance companies only cover an average of 14% of costs incurred.
When do I need an Attorney?
Dealing with medical insurance companies and automobile insurance companies is complex and multifaceted. If you have a situation where you’ll need to deal with multiple car insurance companies and your health insurance provider to cover expensive medical care, you may want to hire an attorney to assist you.
An experienced attorney will have the knowledge of how to deal with insurance companies to make sure all of your incurred costs are fully covered - medical and otherwise.
Be aware, though, that once you hire an attorney your personal contact with the insurance companies and your ability to communicate with them will be limited. Your attorney will speak on your behalf. Discuss your options before hiring an attorney, but for complex cases, an attorney may be your best resource.
Get a free consultation from an attorney to advise you on the best course of action for your specific case.
Need more advice on what to do if you’ve been in a car accident? See some of our other blog posts:
If you need to speak to an experienced attorney about your car accident case, please get in contact with Coxwell & Associates, PLLC.
Call us or fill out the form below for a FREE case consultation. We have over 35 years of experience winning personal injury cases in auto accidents. We can advise you on settlements and how to navigate both health insurance and car insurance policies to get you the best possible outcome.
Disclaimer: This blog is intended as general information purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Anyone with a legal problem should consult a lawyer immediately.