Should I use my own personal health insurance for medical treatment following an accident?

Yes.  If given the option, you should insist on using your own personal health insurance for all of your medical treatment, even if the accident was caused by another person.

Explanation:

After an accident, you should seek immediate medical attention.  The most important thing is to get the treatment you need, and do not let issues of insurance and payment prevent you from getting the proper treatment.   Your safety and health will always be top priority!

If given the option, you should insist on using your own personal health insurance for all of your medical treatment, even if the accident was caused by another person. 

Understandably, many people are hesitant to use their own health insurance to pay since their injuries were caused by someone else—shouldn’t the responsible party’s insurance have to pay?  The answer is yes, they should!

But, determining who the “responsible” party is may not be immediately clear and often times can only be determined after a lengthy investigation.  Many accidents have disputed liability (i.e. who was at fault).  There are also other factors that must be determined, such as whether the other driver carried insurance.

Since medical treatment is typically required immediately after an accident, you do not want to delay medical treatment while the legal issues of the accident are sorted out.  This is where New Mexico law provides the appropriate remedy.

New Mexico law provides reimbursement rights to your health insurer for benefits paid out on your behalf that were caused by another person’s negligence.  That means if your health insurer pays for your medical expenses for treatment caused by someone else’s negligence, and you ultimately recover monetary damages from that negligent person, your health insurer has a right to be reimbursed (these are called rights of subrogation) from you out of the accident money you received.  

Quick Example:
 
You are driving and a negligent driver runs a stop sign and hits you.  An ambulance arrives and transports you to the hospital.   You remember reading something from The Injury and Disability Law Center that said to use your personal health insurance if you are in an accident.  The hospital bills your personal health insurance for payment for your treatment.  It is later determined that the other driver was at fault for causing the accident, and carried auto insurance.  The negligent driver’s insurance company then pays you for your bodily injury damages from the accident, which include your medical bills.  Your receipt of payment from the responsible party’s insurance for your damages triggers the legal right of your health insurance company to be reimbursed what they paid out for your treatment caused by the negligent driver. 
 

As you can see in the example, the law ultimately is designed to place the financial burden on the wrongdoer.  In this example, the negligent driver.  Even though your health insurance paid out initially, the wrongdoer paid for those damages through a settlement with you, and you are then able (and required) to pay your health insurer back.  This process ensures there is no improper shifting of the financial burden unfairly to your health insurer, while at the same time allowing you to receive the timely medical treatment you need. 

Jeremy Worley
Roswell Personal Injury and Workers Comp Attorney