If you get injured in a car accident, your medical costs could be extensive. You may be facing weeks or months of treatments, including physical therapy and rehabilitation. Find out who is responsible for paying for medical bills after a car accident under New Mexico’s insurance laws, plus how an attorney can help you cover medical costs.
New Mexico Is an At-Fault Car Accident State
New Mexico abides by a traditional fault-based system when it comes to car accident coverage. This tort law means that the person or party at fault for causing a car accident must pay for a victim’s related losses. It is up to the injured victim to prove that the other driver is at fault or to blame for the collision. Only then will the other driver’s car insurance company cover medical bills and property damage.
In New Mexico, all motor vehicle drivers must carry at least $25,000 in bodily injury insurance per person, $50,000 in bodily injury coverage per accident and $10,000 in property damage insurance. Bodily injury liability coverage pays for a victim’s necessary medical care after an at-fault car accident, up to the policy’s limits. In addition, drivers can purchase Medical Payment insurance to cover their own medical bills after a crash. This can help with costs if your bills exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s policy.
What if the Other Driver Is Uninsured?
Despite it being illegal, many drivers in New Mexico drive without car insurance. If you get into a car accident where the at-fault driver is uninsured, you may be able to turn to your own insurance company for medical bill coverage. If you have uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance – an optional type of first-party coverage in New Mexico – this can pay for your losses if the other driver does not have insurance. Holding a third party responsible may also be an option, such as the other driver’s employer or a vehicle manufacturer.
Who Pays While a Car Insurance Claim Is Pending?
Car accident insurance claim settlements are not immediate. It takes time for an insurance company to investigate a claim, make a decision and cut a check. In the meantime, you need immediate medical care after a crash. Paying for your necessary medical care upfront while you wait for a settlement check can be done in a few ways:
- Health insurance: if you have health insurance coverage, this can help you pay for your required medical care while you wait for a settlement. If your health insurance company pays for your care, it will get reimbursed when your insurance claim is accepted.
- Out-of-pocket: if you have the means to pay for your medical care out-of-pocket, you can do so and get reimbursed later with an insurance settlement. If you claim the medical bill payment on your taxes for a deduction, however, you may have to pay taxes on this portion of your settlement.
- Letter of protection: a letter of protection is sent by a personal injury lawyer to a health care provider guaranteeing that a portion of any financial award won will go to the doctor for the care provided to the patient to pay off outstanding medical debts.
A medical lien may be placed against your car accident injury settlement or judgment award in New Mexico. This is a legal claim a health care provider has to some of a settlement to cover the costs it paid for the patient’s treatments up front. With assistance from an Albuquerque car accident attorney, you may be able to negotiate the value of a medical lien down and get the best deal for care given to you after a crash.