Who Pays Your Medical Bills After a NJ Car Accident?
If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident, you may have been taken from the accident scene by ambulance to the emergency room. After being examined, you may be admitted to the medical center. Car accidents can happen in a flash. Medical bills can pile up just as quickly.
If you were injured in a NJ car accident, you will receive medical bills from the ambulance, emergency room, hospital, doctors, MRI facility, and other physicians who treated you. If you needed surgery or were admitted to the hospital for an extended period, these medical bills can seem astronomical. Who pays for your medical bills after a car accident in New Jersey?
Most people automatically assume that the insurance company for the other car will pay the medical bills. However, in New Jersey, this is not the case.
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Covers Your Medical Bills in NJ
In New Jersey, insurance companies are required to provide Personal Injury Protection, known as PIP coverage. PIP coverage will cover your medical bills if you are involved in a NJ car accident regardless of who’s at fault for the crash. But wait, there’s a whole lot more. . .
PIP may cover family members who reside with you if they are involved in a car accident and do not own their own car. This is true even if the family member was injured in a car accident and wasn’t in your car at the time of the accident. You read that right: if a family member resides with you, and doesn’t have his own car, and is in an accident in someone else’s car, your PIP pays for his medical bills.
PIP may also provide medical coverage to passengers in your car who are injured in a car accident, if they don’t have their own car, and don’t reside with someone who has PIP coverage.
And because the law requires PIP coverage, your insurance rates should not be affected. Many people simply abandon their personal injury claim because they don’t have their own car and are afraid to ask a relative they reside with for the car insurance policy.
Therefore, if you do not own a car, and are injured in a car accident, you are still entitled to PIP benefits for your medical expenses. Your PIP benefits will be covered by the policy of someone you reside with, or the policy of the vehicle you were riding in.
And yes, there is still more. If there is no PIP coverage available to anyone where you reside, and no PIP coverage for the car you were in, you can apply for PIP coverage through the State of NJ. NJ has set up a fund through a program called NJ PLIGA – which may cover your medical benefits if you are injured in a car accident and there is no PIP coverage. But you must notify NJ PLIGA within 180 days or you will not be able to apply for medical PIP coverage from the State.
How Much Will My PIP Coverage Pay?
PIP benefits are available to you through your automobile insurance policy if you own your own car. Therefore, you can elect how much PIP coverage you want to purchase. You can purchase the minimum coverage, which is $15,000. However, if you are involved in a serious accident and require extensive medical coverage and surgeries, this limit will not fully cover your medical expenses, and you will be responsible for the balance of the bills. Even if your personal injury attorney settles your claim against the other driver, your bills will have to be paid out of the settlement. In other words, your settlement amount may be greatly reduced to satisfy the outstanding medical bills.
On the other hand, if you elect full PIP benefits, you are entitled to $250,000 in medical coverage. If you are the victim of a traumatic car crash and require substantial medical care and surgeries, your medical bills will be fully covered. And your settlement will not be reduced by reimbursing the doctors for outstanding medical liens. Finally, the insurance companies don’t want you to know that full PIP coverage, which provides an additional $235,000 in medical benefits, is just a hair more expensive then the basic minimum coverage. This small increase in your premium provides full medical coverage to prevent against astronomical medical bills that can not only affect your settlement, but your financial freedom going forward after the accident.
If you or a loved one is involved in a NJ car accident, you should contact an attorney familiar with handling these claims. Please see my NJ Car Accident Checklist if you are in an accident. You should definitely consult with an experienced NJ injury lawyer regarding your PIP claim. PIP claims are very complicated, whether it is under your own PIP policy, a relative’s policy, another person’s policy, or through the State of NJ and PLIGA.
My NJ Injury Lawyer Howard P. Lesnik, Esq. offers free strategy sessions to address any issue or questions you may have about filing a PIP claim for an auto accident.
Please contact NJ Injury Lawyer Howard Lesnik, Esq., immediately if you were involved in a NJ car accident. I personally handle NJ personal injury cases on a regular basis. Please contact me now by email, by phoning 908.264.7701, or by completing the form to the right to schedule your complimentary 30-minute strategy session.