Who Pays for Medical Bills After a Car Accident in New Mexico?
Albuquerque, NM car accident lawyer explains legal options for injury victims
Thousands of people sustain serious injuries every year in car accidents in New Mexico. In many cases, car accident injury victims need emergency medical care or other medical treatment at Albuquerque ER & Hospital or another medical facility. When that happens, medical expenses can add up fast.
So, who’s responsible for paying those bills? What options are available to you? And what happens if your medical expenses increase dramatically in the future? Who pays for your car accident medical bills? Our New Mexico car accident attorneys at Szantho Law Firm, P.C. in Albuquerque explain.
New Mexico is an at-fault car insurance state
First, it’s important to understand how New Mexico’s car insurance system works. The state has what’s known as an at-fault insurance system or “tort” system. This means the at-fault party is responsible for all accident-related expenses for all injury victims.
As a result, if you were involved in a collision caused by another driver in New Mexico, you should not have to pay for your accident expenses, including the cost of your medical care. The party that is liable (legally responsible) for the accident should pay.
Who’s responsible for paying for my car accident medical expenses?
In general, if another driver caused your collision in New Mexico, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is ultimately responsible for paying for all your medical expenses, up to the applicable policy limit. However, they won’t pay until your case is resolved, and you need medical care now. There are several options to get your bills paid in the interim.
First, your own car insurance may pay for your medical expenses, depending on the type of coverage you have. Medical payments insurance (MedPay) is a type of coverage that pays for medical expenses regardless of fault for the accident, up to the policy limit. In New Mexico, this is an optional type of coverage. It covers the policyholder, other named drivers on the same policy, and passengers in the covered vehicle.
Second, your health insurance, if you have it, may cover your medical expenses. Again, whether your health insurance pays for medical expenses incurred after a car accident depends on the policy language.
If you don’t have applicable insurance, then you may be stuck paying your medical bills out of pocket. This can easily be unaffordable, especially if you are out of work due to your injuries. In some circumstances, your attorney may be able to reach a letter of protection (LOP) agreement with your health care provider. This is essentially a “treat now, pay later” arrangement where your doctor agrees to get paid when you receive a settlement or verdict for your injuries.
What if the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance?
If the other driver doesn’t have insurance, your uninsured motorist coverage (UM), if you have it, stands in for the other driver’s insurance. UM is not required in New Mexico, but the insurance company is required to offer it to you, and if you don’t want it, you have to decline in writing. We recommend carrying as much UM as you can afford, since it protects you from some of the most dangerous drivers on the road.
If you don’t have UM, there may still be other options available to you. Contact an attorney right away for advice on your legal rights.
What medical costs are paid for after an accident?
The short answer is you should be financially compensated for all your car accident medical expenses if another driver caused your collision, including but not limited to:
- Ambulance fees
- Emergency room expenses
- Surgical procedures
- Hospital fees
- Prescription medications
- Follow-up doctor’s appointments
- Physical therapy
- In-home nursing care
- Chronic pain treatment
- Prosthetic devices
- Medical equipment, including wheelchairs
In other words, if it’s reasonable and necessary treatment you need as a result of the crash, it should be covered. Of course, the insurance company may dispute the severity of your injuries or claim they were pre-existing, so there is often a great deal of debate regarding how much compensation you should actually receive. Your lawyer’s job is to fight for the maximum compensation for all the medical care and other costs you have incurred due to the car accident.
Is there a cap on how much money I can receive for medical bills?
Legally, there is no cap on how much you can recover for your medical expenses in New Mexico. You are entitled to compensation for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment.
However, as a practical matter, you may be limited by the amount of available insurance. One reason you need an experienced car accident lawyer on your side is to find all available sources of compensation and pursue the best possible result in your case.
What happens if my medical expenses increase in the future?
While the accident itself happened in a moment in time, your medical expenses can stretch on for years after the accident. You may need follow-up surgery, treatment for chronic pain, or other medical treatment years after your accident.
By law, you should be compensated for all your medical expenses resulting from the car crash, regardless of when they occur. Your verdict or settlement should include future as well as past and present medical expenses. Again, this is why you need an experienced attorney who will ask the right questions, hire experts if necessary, and make sure your recovery includes all those future expenses.
Remember, once you accept the insurance company’s money, that’s it. Your case is settled and any future expenses, including medical expenses, are your responsibility. So, it’s vital that your settlement includes all those future expenses so that you won’t be stuck with the bill.
How an Albuquerque car accident attorney can help get your medical bills paid
Medical bills after a serious car crash in New Mexico can add up fast. And if you don’t have an attorney on your side demanding the money you deserve, you could end up having to pay for the cost of your medical care out of your own pocket. Your financial stability could suddenly be put in jeopardy.
The legal team at the Szantho Law Firm, P.C. in Albuquerque knows what’s at stake. That’s why we want to help. While you’re recovering from your injury, car accident attorney Andras Szantho can investigate your crash and gather evidence in support of your injury claim or lawsuit. Our legal team knows what to do because we have been standing up for the rights of injury victims for years.
Get a legal warrior who’s ready to fight for you. Remember, we work on a contingency fee basis. That means you only pay us if we obtain a financial settlement or verdict for you. It costs nothing to talk to an attorney about your rights and options, with no obligation and no pressure. Contact us and schedule a free case evaluation with an Albuquerque car accident attorney focused on your best interests.
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