Auto Accident Settlement: Who gets paid first?

by Zuzana
(San Jose, CA)

A year ago I was involved in a car accident. The insurance company of the person who caused the accident is trying to settle this case, and they are offering me $3,000 (they specify $800 is for missed work and pain & suffering inconvenience and $1,000 has to go to the acupuncturist who has not yet been paid).

My medical expenses related to the car accident treatments as of today amount to about $5,000. I understand that my medical insurance will eventually demand reimbursement from my settlement.

I’d like to know in which order I need to start paying all parties involved. The acupuncturist has not yet been paid, so I am thinking $1,000 has to go to him first. My auto insurance/Medpay has already hired an attorney to collect the $200, so I want to clear this up with them.

Now my settlement's remaining balance is $1,800. Am I obligated to hand over this entire amount to my medical insurance? What about my out-of pocket expenses (~$600)? What about my co-pay (~400)? Can you please explain this to me? Thanks.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Auto Accident Settlement: Who gets paid first?":

First of all, let your med-pay know that you are awaiting settlement so that they can cease collection through the attorney -- they will often accept a lien against your settlement to satisfy this aspect.

Secondly, you may wish to negotiate for a higher settlement since you have medical expenses of $5,000 and the settlement offer is less than that.

Third, your insurance will definitely seek reimbursement or "indemnification" as it is often referred, so whatever remains will go to your insurance company in part.

Your options are to seek a higher settlement. Additionally, I would ask any providers to compromise their bills. A 30% reduction is normal/standard, but with keen negotiation skills you can get a 50%+ reduction.

As far as the order of payment, you may want to look at third party indemnification first and then begin paying the medical providers.

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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