As every Veteran knows, getting medical care from VA services can be hard. You normally must go through their channels and get care at their locations. Getting to a VA hospital is extremely difficult if you are in a car accident. You will be taken to the nearest hospital for care. What happens then is the question that Veterans around the nation want to know.
The VA will not pay for injuries due to an auto accident if you go to a facility that is not VA sanctioned. On exceedingly rare occasions, the VA has covered these types of costs, but do not ever count on it. Even if you are critically injured and it is an emergency, your bills will not be covered by them. It does not matter who is at fault, if you were driving, or even if you are hit by a car while walking down the street.
At Fault vs No Fault Insurance States
The VA is entitled to a lien for repayment of the medical expenses they incur on your behalf. This works differently in an “at fault” and a “no fault” insurance state. In a “no fault” state, the VA is entitled to file a lien against your insurance for repayment of the medical expenses. In an “at fault” insurance state, the VA’s lien is against any party or insurance company that has a legal obligation to pay. So, this would include the insurance of the “at fault” party, and may include your own if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage that applies. Below is a discussion about how this works in a n “at fault” state.
Auto Accident-Not Your Fault
The United States Department of Veterans Affair states that the Federal Medical Care Recovery Program ensures that any Veteran injured in a car accident will have their medical care expenses covered by the party responsible for the accident. Funds collected through this program help the VA locations subsidize the money that they get from the federal government.
This means that if you are in an accident that is the fault of another driver their insurance coverage will be obligated to pay for your medical bills. If the driver of the automobile does not have sufficient insurance or the bills are high or there is a liability dispute, you will likely need to hire a car accident lawyer. They can file a claim on your behalf and work to negotiate down any outstanding bills or medical liens so that any limited insurance resources can be stretched to cover the bills. Hopefully they can help you to collect enough money to pay for your medical bills, and any other bills associated with the accident. You may also have to pursue your own insurance for underinsured motorist benefits if you have this type of coverage.
Auto Accident-You Are at Fault
If you are in an accident, and you are found to be at fault, the VA will generally cover bills so long as you go to their facilities. If you later collect from someone else and/or their insurance company, the VA will be legally entitled to reimbursement. They are granted a medica lien for their bills against any other recovery you make. Liability auto insurance will not cover your medical bills when you are the at fault driver.
The VA is very particular about covering any medical costs. The fact is that these benefits are not considered to be a medical insurance policy, but a chain of medical facilities that offers care for Veterans. That is why you are not covered if you get care outside of their locations. It is wise to carry higher limits of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage than the bare minimum in the event the other driver is not sufficiently covered. But remember that even though you paid for these benefits, the VA has the right to be paid out of any recovery of those benefits if you received care at the VA medical facilities. If you ignore their right, they may come after you ro deny your future benefits. Thus, speaking to an attorney to make sure you have carried out your duty to protect the VA is wise when you have been injured in an auto accident.