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In a word: Yes.

In another word: Absolutely.

Using your own health insurance to cover emergency room, hospital and follow-up care after a car crash will not affect your ability to file and collect on insurance claims against the at-fault driver. In fact, using your own health insurance can actually help you pursue your claim against the driver who caused the accident.


First, using your own health insurance ensures you can access possibly lifesaving care without undue delay and without paying the entire cost yourself. While emergency rooms and EMTs have legal duties to treat everyone, hospitals, primary care physicians, and medical specialists are not required to treat patients who cannot prove their ability to pay. Presenting your health insurance card when seeking ongoing and follow-up care makes it much more likely you will receive the treatment you need.

Second, working through your health insurance company creates a mountain of medical paperwork. Those bills, health care provider reports, prescription orders and correspondence with insurance agents can prove invaluable when a car insurance claim adjuster questions whether the car accident inflicted serious injuries.

Third, if you carry a private health insurance policy in Virginia — one provided by your employer or one you purchased yourself from the insurance exchange created under the Affordable Care Act — you will not need to reimburse the insurer from the money you obtain in a car insurance settlement or civil trial jury award. To slip into legalese for one sentence, Virginia does not allow private health insurance companies to engage in subrogation. Click on the link if you need more details. The important thing for car accident victims to know is that they can have their medical bills paid without redirecting a percentage of an eventual car insurance settlement to the health insurer.

Things get a little more complicated for car crash victims who rely on Medicaid, Medicare or TRICARE. These federally sponsored health programs do require reimbursement. The good news, though, is that each of these health programs pay health care providers at heavy discounted rates. Individuals who must reimburse, say, TRICARE from their car insurance settlements do so at less than full price.

My Virginia personal injury law firm colleagues and I make obtaining settlements that fully cover our clients’ medical expenses a primary goal each time we take a car accident case. This means both replacing the injured person’s out-of-pocket spending for deductibles and out-of-network care, as well as ensuring a client does not go out of pocket to make reimbursements. The principle we operate on is that no one who suffers serious injuries because another driver acted negligently or recklessly should have to pay the cost of recovering from the car accident.


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