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When you receive a settlement from an auto accident, are you responsible for the medical bills, or is the insurance company?

Los Angeles, CA |

I was told I am responsible for payment.

Attorney Answers 5


Most of these releases include language that makes you responsible for any outstanding liens or contractual obligations, which include reimbursements to your health insurer. Resolving these obligations can be complicated and cumbersome, particularly for someone unfamiliar with the process and procedures.

I would strongly encourage you to speak to an injury attorney before agreeing to any settlement. You may have rights you hadn't considered. That attorney will be able to provide more detailed advise about who you should speak with to determine which of your health care providers may have a lien or reimbursement pending and provide an estimate of what that obligation may be.

Good Luck!

This response applies to California Law only and does not create any legal relationship between the attorney and the person who submitted the question.

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In an odd way, you may be responsible to both the medical insurer and the healthcare providers. Typically, when you receive care for an injury caused by an accident, and you have healthcare insurance, the doctors will submit the bills for payment to the healthcare insurer. Technically, you remain the "responsible party" for any amounts incurred with the doctors, and for any "co-pays", and for the bill in general if the insurance does not cover you. At the same time, the healthcare insurer, under your contract of insurance, maintains subrogation rights to pursue reimbursement for amounts paid on your behalf for injuries caused by a third party's negligence. In many cases, the amounts owed can be negotiated down and compromised to maximize your personal recovery. It's these kinds of issues that arise (which many "lay people don't recognize) that an experienced PI lawyer can recognize and deal with in an effort to make sure that you are fully compensated for your injuries. If you do not have counsel to represent you in your auto accident case, I would suggest that you consult with one, to make sure that you get the most out of your claim.

Disclaimer- The information you obtain at our web-site or through postings on such sites as this is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for specific advice regarding your individual situation. Any response given here is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change.

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The terms of the settlement release that you signed in exchange for the check you received dictate whether you are responsible. Oftentimes the insurance company will require you to pay all outstanding bills out of any settlement, and will require you to reimburse them if you fail to do so. In addition, it is your responsibility to reimburse Medicare for any benefits it may have paid on your behalf. In the event your own health insurance provider paid benefits on your behalf, you may have an obligation to reimburse it as well. This will depend on the terms and conditions of your benefits plan.

NO DUTIES ARE INTENDED OR CREATED BY THIS COMMUNICATION. If you have not executed a fee contract or an engagement letter, I DO NOT represent you as your attorney. You are encouraged to retain counsel of your choice if you desire to do so. Thank you.

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It is odd that an insurance company is handing over money to you and advising you to pay the lienholders directly, including Medicare. Under the Medicare Secondary Payer law, insurance companies can be held responsible to pay double in penalty for not looking out for Medicare's interests.

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Yes you are, unless the terms of the settlement say differently.

Legal Disclaimer:

If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

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