Let’s face it, people will get injured when they are sitting in a big metal container that collides with another big metal container. Especially when those big metal containers (i.e. vehicles) are moving at any rate of speed.
Nobody wants to get into an automobile accident. Aside from having to deal with getting your car fixed, the other headache you might experience is the real one … medical bills. The cost for medical treatment is never cheap, and when you are dealing with injuries from a car collision, most times the those injuries are severe.
It is very important for you to treat for your injuries. Without medical treatment, you won’t likely heal from your injuries, and the injuries might even get worse without proper medical treatment. But since everyone who has gone to a doctor’s office knows that treatment isn’t free, one of the biggest concerns that injured parties face is medical bills. Who will pay these? The answer to this question is “it depends”.
If you are a New Jersey insured driver, your automobile insurance policy has coverage for “Personal Injury Protection”. This is also known as “PIP” for short. If you have elected to have your PIP as primary, this means that you have elected to have your PIP be your medical insurance coverage for any injuries you sustain related to the use of your vehicle. So if you have chosen PIP primary, all of your medical bills should be submitted to your own automobile insurance carrier for coverage. This is the case even if the other driver is at fault for the accident. In New Jersey, your own PIP coverage pays your medical bills no matter who is at fault. Of course, your PIP coverage is subject to the PIP limits chosen on your policy, so be sure to get the highest amount of PIP limits that you can afford when choosing your automobile coverage selections. Plus, your coverage is usually subject to a deductible and co-pay depending on your coverage selection.
Things get a bit more complicated when you choose Health Insurance primary under your PIP selection. Although this may lower your overall automobile insurance premium, this may cause other issues depending on what kind of health insurance coverage you have. So when you choose this option on your automobile insurance, you are saying that instead of having your auto insurer pay your medical bills, you will have your health insurance provider pay. However, certain health insurance plans have prohibitions to being primary for PIP purposes, so you will need to check with your health insurance as to any issues.
When it comes to filing an injury claim against the other driver, the difference between choosing PIP primary vs. Health Insurance primary comes into the picture, not only in paying for your medical treatment, but also whether or not you will eventually have to pay the insurance company back for the medical bills incurred. Certain health insurance plans have subrogation rights, which means that if they pay for your medical bills in a car accident case, you will be responsible for reimbursing your health insurance out of your recovery in any claim against the other driver. However, if you choose PIP primary (i.e. having your automobile insurance company pay the bills), you do not have to reimburse your automobile insurance company out of your recovery from the other driver.
Frankly, automobile insurance and PIP coverage can be a bit complicated, which is why it is important to have an attorney represent you if you are injured in a car accident. Your attorney will make sure that your medical bills get paid, and that they are paid by the correct entity. If you are in an accident and need more information or guidance, please contact the Law Offices of William S. Peck to discuss your options and to protect your rights.