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What if I am hurt in a car accident and don’t have health insurance?

auto accident no health insurance

Navigating the aftermath of a car accident can be daunting, especially if you find yourself injured without health insurance. We’ve seen firsthand the uncertainty and fear that clients face in these situations. If you’re injured in a car accident in New Hampshire without health insurance, emphasizing the legal pathways and practical advice to manage medical care and financial recovery.

Immediate Steps After the Accident

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Your health is paramount. Even without insurance, it’s crucial to seek medical attention immediately after an accident. Emergency rooms are required to treat you, regardless of your insurance status. Explain your situation to the medical provider; they may offer payment plans or sliding scale fees based on your income.
  2. Document Everything: Document all aspects of the accident and your injuries. This includes taking photos of the accident scene, your injuries, and keeping all medical documents and receipts. This documentation will be vital for your legal case and potential compensation claims.
  3. Report the Accident: Report the accident to the police and your own auto insurance company, if applicable. This will be an important step in establishing the facts of the case.

Understanding New Hampshire’s Legal Landscape

New Hampshire operates under a “fault” system for car accidents. This means that the person who caused the accident is responsible for paying the damages. However, it is important to note that they generally will not pay towards medical bills until a final settlement is reached. This often means months or years before getting compensation from the other drive’s insurance policy. Here’s how this impacts your situation:

  1. Auto Insurance Claims: If the other driver is at fault, you can file a claim against their insurance for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. New Hampshire is one of the only states that does NOT require drivers to carry liability insurance.
  2. Uninsured Motorist Coverage: If you have auto insurance yourself, check if your policy includes uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. This can provide additional support if the at-fault driver lacks sufficient insurance.
  3. Medical Payments Coverage (“Medpay”): Medical payments coverage is required with any New Hampshire auto insurance policy. This covers out-of-pocket medical expenses regardless of who’s at fault. Unlike liability insurance, Medpay will cover expenses as they occur, without the long wait for a final settlement. However, the minimum amount of coverage is $1,000 and the very highest policies are usually $5,000 to $10,000. Therefore, if out-of-pocket medical bills are high, Medpay will help but will be exhausted long before all bills are covered.

Legal Action and Compensation

If insurance claims do not fully cover your needs, filing a personal injury lawsuit may be necessary. In New Hampshire, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. A successful lawsuit can recover costs for medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and other damages.

Strategies for Managing Medical Costs Without Insurance

  1. Payment Plans and Negotiations: Many healthcare providers are willing to negotiate payment plans or reduce charges for uninsured patients. Don’t hesitate to discuss your financial situation with them.
  2. State and Federal Health Programs: Explore eligibility for Medicaid or other state health programs. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services can provide information on available assistance.
  3. Charity Care and Sliding Scale Programs: Some hospitals offer charity care for uninsured patients or services on a sliding scale based on income.
  4. Deferred Collections and Lien on the Settlement: In cases where a settlement or lawsuit is pending, some medical providers may agree to defer collections and place a medical lien against the future settlement. This means they will provide treatment and wait for payment until the legal case is resolved.

The Role of a Personal Injury Attorney

Consulting with a personal injury attorney is an essential step. An experienced attorney can:

  • Navigate the legal system and insurance claims process on your behalf.
  • Advocate for the full extent of your damages, including negotiating with healthcare providers and insurance companies.
  • File a lawsuit if necessary, to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.

Suffering injuries in a car accident without health insurance in New Hampshire can initially seem like an insurmountable challenge. However, there are pathways to receiving care and compensation. By understanding your legal options, utilizing available resources, and seeking the guidance of a skilled personal injury attorney, you can navigate this difficult time and focus on your recovery.

Remember, the steps you take immediately after the accident and in the weeks that follow can significantly impact your ability to recover both physically and financially. Taking action, staying informed, and advocating for your rights are crucial components of navigating the aftermath of a car accident without health insurance.

 

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