Who Pays Medical Bills After a Car Accident?

Who Pays Medical Bills in a Car Accident

Getting injured in a car accident is stressful enough without having to worry about paying all the medical bills piling up.

You may assume your health insurance or the other driver’s auto policy will kick in right away, but often the reality proves confusing and bureaucratic. Bill collectors start hounding you while insurers slowly process who covers what.

So who actually ends up footing the initial costs for treatment after a collision until the dust settles? And more importantly, what options exist to get the reimbursements you’re entitled to faster?

Does Auto Insurance Coverage Pay Medical Bills?

Let’s take a closer look at automobile policy coverage and how it affects medical bill payments.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is auto insurance coverage that pays for medical expenses and related costs, regardless of who was at fault in the accident.

PIP coverage is mandatory in New York (known as a “no-fault” state) and optional in others. Under New York Insurance Law ISC § 5102, motorists must carry a minimum of $50,000 in no-fault PIP insurance to cover their medical bills, a portion of lost wages, and other expenses.

It’s important to note that PIP coverage follows the person, not the vehicle. This rule means that when car accidents injure motorists, their own PIP coverage will apply.

Medical Payments Coverage (MedPay)

Medical Payments Coverage, or MedPay, is optional auto insurance coverage. It pays $5,000.00 to $10,000.00 per person for medical, dental, and funeral expenses for both the insured driver and passengers of a motor vehicle involved in an accident, regardless of who caused the accident.

Unlike PIP, MedPay coverage is not mandatory and has coverage limits lower than PIP to provide additional payments for medical expenses.

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UM and UIM)

Uninsured motorists and UIM come into play if you’re involved in an accident with a driver without insurance or insufficient insurance to cover your medical expenses and other damages. Insurers designed this coverage to pay you directly for your injuries and damages, including medical bills.

If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance or has inadequate insurance coverage, you may need to file a claim under your own UM or UIM policy to pay your medical bills.

Should I Use My Health Insurance Policy After Being Injured in a Car Wreck?

If you have health insurance, you may consider using it to cover your medical expenses after a car accident. However, it’s important to understand that your health insurance company may have lien rights or subrogation rights, which allow them to recover the money they paid for your medical treatment from any settlement or verdict you receive from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

Pros and Cons of Using Health Insurance

Using your health insurance to pay for your medical bills after a car accident has both advantages and disadvantages:


  • Ensures your medical bills get paid promptly.
  • Allows you to receive treatment from your preferred healthcare providers within your insurance network.
  • Prevents medical bills from piling up, which can damage your credit and financial well-being.


  • Your health insurance company may assert a lien or subrogation rights, which can reduce the amount you ultimately receive from a serious injury, settlement, or verdict.
  • You may need to pay deductibles, copays, and other out-of-pocket expenses that insurers may not fully reimburse.

If you choose to use your health insurance, keeping detailed records of all medical bills and payments made by your insurance company is crucial. This information will be necessary when negotiating a settlement or pursuing a personal injury lawsuit.

What if I Still Have Unpaid Medical Bills?

Even with auto and health insurance coverage, you may still be responsible for paying certain out-of-pocket expenses, such as deductibles, copays, and coinsurance. These costs can add up quickly, especially if you have multiple medical bills from various providers.

Options for Paying Leftover Bills

If you’re left with unpaid medical bills after exhausting your insurance coverage and any settlement or verdict from the at-fault driver’s insurance company, you may have several options:

  • Payment plans: Many medical providers are willing to set up payment plans to help you pay off your bills over time.
  • Medical liens: Some healthcare providers may agree to place a lien on your serious injury lawsuit, which means they’ll be paid directly from any settlement or verdict you receive.
  • Health insurance negotiations: If your health insurance company has asserted a lien, you may be able to negotiate a reduction in the amount they seek to recover.

Why Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

After a car accident, medical bills pile up quickly. Even good health insurance leaves substantial out-of-pocket costs. Attempting to negotiate with insurance companies on your own often delays or minimizes payments still owed.

This is why hiring a personal injury lawyer is so important. They have the legal knowledge to fully account for all your medical costs from the accident and work to get you full compensation.

A good attorney considers your economic damages like medical bills and car repairs. They also factor in harder-to-quantify non-economic damages like pain and suffering. Using negligence laws, they can negotiate strongly with insurance on your behalf so you can focus on recovering from injuries.

Rather than you handling complex claim processes alone, you can trust a lawyer to secure reimbursements while you heal.

Are You Worried About Medical Bills After a Car Accident?

If you’re still left with unpaid medical bills, explore options like payment plans, medical liens, health insurance negotiations, and personal injury lawsuits.

Working with an experienced personal injury attorney can significantly increase your chances of receiving fair compensation for medical bills and other damages.

If you’ve been injured in a car crash or have questions about medical bill payments following an auto accident, please contact Held, Held, & Held in New York for guidance. Our personal injury attorneys protect the rights of accident victims and ensure they receive the compensation they deserve.

Schedule a case evaluation today to discuss your legal options and learn more about how we can help you navigate the complexities of insurance claims, medical bills, and serious injury cases.

Author Bio

Edward Held is the founding member of Held, Held & Held, a family-owned multi-practice law firm in Brooklyn, NY. With more than 40 years of experience, he has zealously represented clients in various legal matters, including personal injury, real estate, criminal defense, bankruptcy, and estate law.

Edward received his Juris Doctor from New York Law School and is a former President of the New York Law School Alumni Association Board of Directors. He has received numerous accolades for his work and has been admitted into the Supreme Court of the United States and the New York State Courts.

LinkedIn | State Bar Association | Justia | Google