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Who Pays Medical Bills After a Car Accident?

Medical Bills and Insurance Claim FormIf you or someone you love was hurt in a car or motorcycle accident, you were probably taken to the emergency room, and may have been admitted to the hospital. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon start to receive medical bills from the EMS company, as well as the doctors and hospitals that treated you. Very quickly, you may have medical bills piling up that you are not able to pay. You may also have missed time from work, or even lost your job. If it was a catastrophic accident or an accident involving a truck, you may still be in the hospital, or need around the clock medical care.

If you’re facing mounting medical bills, you may have started to wonder how they’ll get paid, and who will pay them.

New Jersey’s “No Fault” Insurance System – PIP Pays Your Medical Bills

Many people assume that the at-fault person’s insurance company will pay your medical bills. While this is true in many states, it is not the case in New Jersey. New Jersey is one of the few states that has adopted No Fault Insurance Coverage, also known as Personal Injury Protection, or PIP. After a car crash, PIP will cover you, your family members and, in some circumstances, passengers in your car if they do not have their own PIP coverage. PIP will pay for medical expenses, lost wages, and essential daily services that were incurred as a result of a car accident. PIP does not cover damage to your vehicle or pain and suffering, unless you elected No Threshold when you purchased your insurance policy.

No-Fault versus Tort-Based Insurance

No-Fault Insurance is more easily understood in comparison to a fault-based, or tort system of recovery. Under a tort system, the at-fault driver’s insurance company pays your medical bills and other expenses that were incurred as a result of the car accident. Under a No-Fault insurance system, your insurance pays your medical bills, then seeks reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier.

No-Fault insurance was adopted to streamline the claims process by eliminating the need to determine who was at-fault, or most-at-fault, before deciding who will pay the claim. While this is a laudable goal, in practice, the payment of claims for bills and lost wages under a no-fault system is still fraught with obstacles and is never as easy as we think it should be. Even though you’re submitting claims to your insurance company, payment of your claim may not be immediately approved. That’s why it’s important to have an experienced New Jersey car accident attorney on your side who understands the insurance claims process.

If you live in New Jersey and own a vehicle, you are required to purchase PIP. PIP will pay your medical expenses if you were involved in a car accident, regardless of who was at fault. This is the case even if you weren’t driving your car at the time. Once your insurance company pays your medical bills, your insurance carrier will then recover its expenses from the at-fault driver’s insurance company. However, you will not be involved in these proceedings.

If you do not own a vehicle and, therefore, do not have your own PIP coverage, the insurance coverage questions become slightly more complicated. If you live with a family member who owns a vehicle, that person’s PIP insurance pays your medical expenses, and will then seek reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.

If you do not own a vehicle and do not live with a family member who owns a vehicle, you will usually be covered by the insurance of the person who owned the vehicle in which you were a passenger.

Of course, there are special circumstances where PIP does not apply. For example, if you were injured in a car accident while on the job, your medical bills will be paid through workers’ compensation.

Need Help with an Insurance Claim After a Car Accident?

If you or someone you care about was hurt in a car accident, it’s important that you contact an experienced New Jersey car accident lawyer as quickly after the accident as possible. I’ll help you navigate New Jersey’s complex No Fault Insurance System and maximize your financial recovery, so you can focus on your recovery and getting your life back on track.

Contact me today at The Slaven Law Firm, LLC for a free initial consultation. I work with people throughout central New Jersey, including Middlesex County, Burlington County, and Mercer County. Call me at (609) 587-3250, or complete my online form.