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A car crash and a short hospital stay shouldn’t ding a credit score, especially when you’re not at fault. Embarrassingly, hospital bills generated by minor automobile accidents such as the one last week when a commercial vehicle collided with a pickup truck were creating long-term headaches for everyone involved.

The accident, which occured at US-95 and St. Clair in Fallon, sent both drivers to the hospital and, thankfully, neither sustained life-threatening injuries.

Now, due to changes to Nevada law, their credit might not need repair either.

In the past, small but serious accidents often resulted a lien being placed against a patient’s assets as the hospital frequently neglected to bill the health insurance company before going after the individual.

Traditionally, hospitals expected to be paid from the victim’s car insurance or through the resulting lawsuit. Once these methods were settled, the remaining bills became the patient’s responsibility – and unknowingly recorded as a medical lien in the public records. Shamefully, the individual would not know of the lien against their credit until they tried to buy a house, a car or another large item.

This new law now requires hospitals to first serve notice of intent to file a lien, giving patients a chance to keep the debt out of public records. By understanding your rights and becoming familiar with your health insurance coverage, you avoid battling hospitals over unexpected costs.

First, remember to give the hospital your health insurance information as soon as possible. Although, many of us carry auto insurance for these types of emergencies, your health insurance coverage should fill in the financial gaps and you have the right to use it.

Additionally, hospitals are required to bill the health insurance provider first for any sum, prior to filing a lien, if they have a contract with that company. Therefore, it’s important  know which hospitals accept your insurance so if you’re ever in an auto accident, you or a loved one can request a specific location. No one wants to be an automobile accident, but with a little preparation, these inevitabilities of 21st Century life should not become problems for life.

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