If you drive in New Jersey, you are required to have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance. This part of your auto insurance policy will cover medical bills and some other expenses if you are injured in an accident.
If you have been injured in an auto accident and have questions about your PIP insurance, or the insurance coverage of the driver who hit you, the attorneys at Levinson Axelrod are here to help. Call 1-800-346-5529 or complete our case evaluation form to have one of our experienced New Jersey personal injury attorneys review your accident claim for free.
PIP insurance refers to the Personal Injury Protection section of an auto insurance policy. It provides for the payment of medical treatment for the insured after an accident, and pays medical bills for the passengers in the insured's vehicle, any pedestrians involved in an accident with the insured's vehicle, and some members of the insured's household who were injured in an auto accident.
PIP insurance covers medical bills at a minimum, but can also provide payments for make up for lost wages, payments for essential services, survivor benefits, and funeral expenses. The benefits you will receive after an accident depend on the limits of your insurance policy.
New Jersey is a "no fault" state, which means that all medical expenses after an accident are paid by each driver's own insurance, regardless of which driver was at fault. At the bare minimum, the state requires that all vehicles in the state are covered by property damage liability insurance and personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. The minimum amount of PIP coverage you can legally purchase for each vehicle covers expenses of $15,000 per person per accident, with a maximum limit of up to $250,000 for certain serious injuries.
The punishment for driving without this minimum coverage is stiff. For a first offense, a driver will lose his or her license for one year, pay fines between $300 and $1000, and have to perform community service. For subsequent offenses, a driver's license is revoked for two years, additional community service is required, fines increase to a maximum of $5,000, and there is the additional possibility of up to 14 days in jail.
You will have the option of choosing to use your health insurance as your primary insurance in case of an auto accident. Many experts advise against this, because most health insurance does not cover auto accident injuries. Before make this designation when purchasing your auto insurance policy, make sure that your health insurance will cover your injuries in an accident. Be aware that you cannot use either Medicaid or Medicare as your primary health insurer under your PIP policy.
If your health insurance refuses to pay for certain medical expenses, your PIP insurance will kick in and cover your eligible medical expenses. If you do not have health insurance at the time of your accident, your PIP coverage will become your primary health insurance coverage, but you will be responsible for paying a $750 penalty before your auto insurance makes any payments. Any medical bills which are not covered by either your PIP insurance or your health insurance will be your responsibility to pay.
You must notify your insurer that you have been in an accident as soon as possible. Your treating physician will also notify your insurance of your medical treatments, but you may face increased penalties and additional co-pays if this notice is late.
Once your insurer is notified that you are being treated for injuries after an accident, the company will send you a PIP benefits application to be completed and returned. This benefits application will allow your insurer to determine when you meet the maximum limits of your policy, as well as which treatments are reasonable and medically necessary.
Your insurer is responsible for paying any reasonable and medically necessary treatment expenses within 60 days of the date they receive the bill, unless they refuse to cover the treatment or request a 45-day extension.
A person cannot make a claim for PIP benefits if that person's injuries were not caused while using an automobile, motorcycle, or any other vehicle which is covered by the insurance policy.
Additionally, you are cannot file a claim for PIP benefits if your injuries occurred while you were committing a high misdemeanor or a felony, such as driving while intoxicated. Additionally, if you were operating a vehicle without the vehicle owner's permission, you cannot make a claim for PIP benefits from the insurance policy covering the vehicle.
Your PIP insurance has certain thresholds or limits on the amount the policy will pay towards your medical bills. If you exceed these limits, your personal health insurance may cover the rest. If it does not, you will be personally responsible for the remainder of your medical bills.
If you are left with uncovered medical bills, lost wages, or uninsured property damage, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the person who caused the accident. If you win your case, you could recover damages for the expenses your PIP insurance did not cover.