Who Pays for the Ambulance in a Car Accident? A Quick and Comprehensive Guide

If you’ve been in a wreck, you’re likely rattled and upset. Still, you know one of the most important things to do after an accident is to seek needed medical care. Even if you feel okay, your adrenaline is pumping and you know it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.

You’re about to agree to an ambulance ride when a big warning sign flashes in your head. Is this ride to the hospital going to saddle you with a massive bill? Ambulance trips can cost thousands of dollars, after all.

While the choice of whether to go to the hospital is yours in the example above, there are many types of accidents where the victim will have no say on if they go to a hospital, how far they have to go to get to the hospital, and which ambulance provider will fulfill the service. Unfortunately, all of these factors can affect the cost of the ambulance to you.

Once the health crisis is over, the financial questions can be their own emergency. So who pays for the ambulance in a car accident?

Who Pays? It Depends on Who Is At Fault

The question of who pays for an ambulance after an accident is heavily dependent on one big factor: who was at fault in the crash.

If You’re At Fault

If you’re responsible for the wreck, your best bet can be coverage through your car insurance. Even if ambulance coverage is not part of your primary coverage, you may have optional coverage called MedPay. This is no-fault coverage that can cover your medical expenses after an accident, up to the MedPay policy limits. Your health insurance may also provide coverage for ambulance expenses.

If You’re Not At Fault

If you’re not at fault for the wreck, the at-fault driver (or more likely, their insurer) should compensate you for all your harms and losses. You wouldn’t have needed an ambulance ride if not for the negligence of the other driver. And ambulance fees are directly related to the accident. Therefore, you shouldn’t have to foot the bill (though the at-fault insurer may not accept your insurance claim without a fight).

Tip: If you want to try to expedite payment, you may be able to file a claim for coverage through your health insurance. Then, your health insurer may pursue reimbursement from the at-fault insurer.

Should You Use Car Insurance or Health Insurance?

If you have both health insurance coverage for ambulance costs and MedPay coverage through your car insurance policy, your car insurance coverage is typically preferable. That’s because deductibles and copays can be quite high on health insurance policies before true coverage kicks in.

You may not have a choice in the matter. Even if your health insurance covers ambulance expenses, you may be required to go through your car insurance as primary coverage, with your health insurance as secondary for any excess coverage needed.

Can You Wait to Pay the Ambulance Bill Until Your Case Is Over?

No and yes. You don’t want to just ignore the bill. If you don’t pay the bill, a county or municipal ambulance provider can place a lien on your home or property. If you sell your home or property, a portion of the proceeds must go to the ambulance provider. In addition, under North Carolina law, your wages and income can be garnished.

Instead, a lien arrangement with the ambulance provider may be the optimal solution. Under a lien arrangement, the ambulance provider will agree to defer billing for now and receive payment from any future settlement you receive. Negotiating a lien is something an attorney can help you with.

Even simple questions can have complicated answers. And even seemingly straightforward answers can have lots of little complications. Fighting unexpected complications (and the insurance company) is one of many great reasons to hire an attorney.

If you’ve been hurt in a wreck due to the negligence of another, one of our attorneys can evaluate your case for free. We can take the legal burden off your shoulders while you focus on getting better. Call 1-866-900-7078 today!

About the Author

LaDonna Williams practices personal injury law in North Carolina for the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin. In 2014, she served as the Auto Torts Membership Co-Chair for the North Carolina Advocates for Justice. LaDonna’s professional affiliations include the North Carolina Bar Association, the Durham County Bar Association, the 16th Judicial District Bar, U.S. District Court: Eastern and Middle Districts of NC, and the Cambridge “Who’s Who” Executive and Professional Registry for 2010. LaDonna’s legal accomplishments earned her recognition on the 2010 “Rising Stars” list from Super Lawyers. For “Rising Stars” standards of inclusion, visit superlawyers.com.

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