A careless driver injures you. You wind up in the hospital. Accordingly, you search for New Jersey injury lawyers on the web. You find one to represent you. The injury lawyer tells you that you are entitled to compensation from the other driver’s insurance company for your pain and suffering.
NO-FAULT PIP INSURANCE PAYS FOR CAR ACCIDENT MEDICAL BILLS
But what about your medical bills? Who will pay for them?
Surprisingly, under New Jersey law, it probably will not be the other driver’s insurance company. New Jersey is among a minority of states that have what is referred to as “no-fault” insurance for automobile accidents.
“No-fault” means that your own car insurance company will pay for your medical expenses. When you bought your car insurance policy, you likely purchased “personal injury protection” (PIP) insurance.
Hopefully, you purchased at least $250,000 of PIP insurance.
It is important that you submit a claim for PIP insurance benefits from your car insurer as soon as possible after any accident in which you suffer an injury. Allow your personal injury attorney to assist you in completing the PIP benefits application. (If you try to complete it yourself, without showing it to your lawyer, you may hurt your case).
Submit all your medical bills relating to the accident through your PIP insurance, not through your regular health insurance.
Unless, of course, you exhaust the limits of your PIP coverage. In that case, you may have to submit bills not covered by PIP to your regular health insurer. That’s why you want to buy as high amount of PIP coverage as you can afford, to make sure that PIP will cover all your bills in case of a serious accident.
HEALTH CARE PRIMARY OPTION IS A POOR CHOICE
When some people purchase car insurance, they make their regular health insurance “primary.” They do that to save money. Thus, instead of PIP covering their accident-related medical bills, their regular health insurance will cover those bills. PIP insurance will only provide coverage respecting bills that arise beyond the limits of the coverage afforded by the regular health insurer.
While such individuals may save money in the short run, by paying slightly lower premiums, if they ever have an accident, they may well lose all the money that they saved plus much more.
This is because, in many cases, when auto accident related medical bills are paid by a general health insurer, rather than by PIP, the health insurer has a claim for reimbursement against the injured victim. In other words, when the injured victim receives compensation from the careless driver, he must pay back the health insurer for the medical bills that the health insurer paid. This would not be the case if the victim had purchased a policy that required PIP to primarily cover medical expenses.
There is no similar requirement that a victim reimburse his PIP insurer for any medical bills the PIP insurer pays.
WHEN YOU BUY INSURANCE
New Jersey injury lawyers will tell you that the lesson is clear. Buy as much PIP insurance as you can afford when you purchase your car insurance policy. And do not select the “health insurer primary” option.