Is it legal to “double dip” medical payments when settling auto accident medical bills?

UPDATED: Nov 19, 2011

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Is it legal to “double dip” medical payments when settling auto accident medical bills?

I was rear-ended and the party that hit me was 100% at fault. I have heard that it is legal to pay my medical bills through my own insurance with co-pays and then at the settlement submit all my bills, in full, and they will be paid again. Something about that sounds fishy. Can I double dip here if it’s within the law?

Asked on November 19, 2011 under Accident Law, Missouri


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

No, double dipping is not legal. An injured party can only recover his or her actual out of  pocket medical costs. So, say that you incur $30k of medical costs and pay $4k of it, between copays, deductibles, etc.--the rest is paid by your own insurance. You could recover the $4k from the at-fault party or his/her insurance--and your own insurer my be able to recover the other $26k from the out fault party to reimburse what it paid out to you. Between you and your insurer, you only recover an amout equal to the total damages, and you do not receive more than that portion which you paid.

That's not to say that errors or mistakes don't happen--undoubtedly, some parties have recovered more than their fair share. But that's not the law.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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