If you are injured in a car accident in New Jersey, and you want to get medical treatment for the injuries you have suffered, you may not know how the medical bills get paid. Does your health insurance plan cover the bills? Does your auto insurance policy pay the bills? Does the person who caused the accident pay them for you? These are all important questions that frequently arise when you or someone you know has been injured in a car accident.
In 1972, New Jersey enacted legislation that required every insurance policy for a private automobile registered or garaged in the state to provide a package of benefits designed to provide a prompt way for people injured in car accidents to obtain payment for their medical bills. The law has been changed and amended a few times over the years, and it is generally known as the State’s “No Fault” insurance law. The actual benefits that are discussed in the law are called “Personal Injury Protection” or more commonly known by the acronym “PIP.”
If you have been injured in a car accident in New Jersey and you also own a private passenger car in NJ that is insured under a standard NJ auto insurance policy, you must first look at your auto insurance policy coverage paperwork to determine the coverage available under a section known as “Personal Injury Protection” or “PIP.” Then, you must determine whether that coverage is primary or secondary. In New Jersey, auto insurance policyholders are given the option to designate either their auto insurance carrier or their health insurance carrier as the primary source for medical benefits when they are injured in car accidents.
If the auto insurance policy’s coverage is primary, that means that you must first utilize your auto insurance policy’s PIP coverage to pay your medical bills. If your auto insurance policy coverage states that you have selected something commonly known as “Health Primary” or “PIP Secondary,” that means that you must first use your own health insurance policy to pay for your medical bills. If you have chosen the health primary option on your policy, and you do not have health insurance or your health insurance carrier refuses to cover the medical bills arising out of the car accident, your automobile insurance company is required by law to then provide PIP benefits and pay the medical bills. For more information on this, see N.J.S. 39:6A-4.3.
This, of course, is intended to provide just a brief overview of the law of no-fault insurance in New Jersey. Keep in mind that the answers to the above questions can be different if you are insured under what is known as a “special” auto insurance policy, or a “basic” auto insurance policy, or a “Dollar A Day” auto insurance policy. The situation above also is different if your vehicle is not a private passenger vehicle, if you do not have auto insurance, if you are injured while in the scope of your employment, or if your insurance policy is from out of state and that carrier is not authorized to do business in New Jersey.
Various legal issues can arise when you use PIP or health insurance to pay your medical bills when you have been injured in car crash, and the process can be daunting for many people, including attorneys who do not routinely handle auto accident cases. If you have been injured in a car accident, the best way to navigate through the sometimes complicated maze of insurance issues is to consult an experienced attorney who specializes in personal injury cases and who handles car accident cases on a daily basis.