New Hampshire has a form of auto insurance that is present in all policies in the State called “medical payment coverage”. This is a no-fault coverage that is non-subrogable. This means that it doesn’t matter whose fault the car accident was, as the insurer is required to pay medical payment coverage regardless of fault. So, why use it when the accident was not your fault? Most importantly, because “non-subrogable” means you don’t have to pay back any benefit paid under medical payment coverage. This is important, because all health insurance policies (whether through the government, your work, or a private policy) require they be reimbursed if you recover money from your injury case. Thus, using the medial payment coverage to maximize your own recovery is integral. For those of us that handle injury cases, a recent NH Supreme Court decision helped illuminate the best way for an injured person to coordinate insurance to maximize their benefits. This case was called Travco v. Langevin. The TRAVCO decision was a long time coming. As noted above, New Hampshire has a no fault coverage on any automobile insurance policy issued in the state. This no fault coverage is called “Medical Payments” coverage, and is regulated by RSA 264:16. As Plaintiff’s attorneys, we long took the position that using the medical payments coverage to pay the health insurance lien was not a “double recovery” within the statute and should be allowed. Insurers refused to honor this, and steadfastly refused to pay any health insurance lien. The Medical Payment Statute forbid a person from recovering from both health insurance and auto insurance for a medical bill related to the accident. However, if the person injured pursue a third party claim against the person that hit them, then that can trigger a “subrogation” right (i.e. a right of reimbursement) by the health insurer for proceeds from the third party injury case. Thus, the argument that there is no double recovery, and that medical payment coverage can be used to pay a health insurer’s lien if any medical payment benefits remained.
The TRAVCO case found that in such situations, the Plaintiff has not had a “double recovery” and mandated that the auto insurer pay off the health insurance lien up to the applicable medical payments limits. This is important, as in the past, this was not being allowed by insurers. Now, the New Hampshire Supreme Court has ruled the Plaintiffs were correct, and finally the statute can be used to help protect those it was intended to protect when first drafted.
A special thanks to the New Hampshire Association for Justice (an organization Parnell, Michels & McKay has been a proud member of for many years) for their tireless work in helping get the New Hampshire Supreme Court to find in the Plaintiff’s favor.
Injury cases are tough to manage by yourself, and having experienced attorneys on your side helps you maximize your available benefits, and your recovery for your injuries.
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