If you ever have the misfortune of being involved in a motor vehicle accident, be sure to utilize the personal injury protection (PIP) benefits of your automobile insurance policy. Whether or not the accident was your fault, contact your own auto insurance company and apply for the PIP benefits. Once approved, you will be given a claim number to use at any doctors you use in the future until your PIP benefits are exhausted. Any medical bills that are related to the accident which were billed to you prior to receiving the PIP claim number can be supplied to your auto insurer and those bills will also be paid.
Utilizing your PIP benefits are critical, especially in cases where the accident was not your fault and you are considering filing a lawsuit. If you do not use your PIP benefits, or if you choose not to carry a policy with a large PIP benefit and you use insurance through an employer or through the State (Medicaid/welfare) or Federal (medicare) government, you may have to pay those entities back out of your lawsuit verdict or settlement, leaving you with little or nothing after the fact.
If you choose to only carry a minimal amount of PIP benefits on your automobile policy, you may exhaust the benefit amount very quickly, as emergency room visits and diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, MRI's and CT scans are very expensive. Once your PIP benefits have been exhausted, you will need to submit all future medical bills to your private or government health insurer, and, as noted above, you may be obligated to reimburse those entities once your lawsuit reaches its conclusion. Additionally, if you do not have private or government health insurance, you will be personally liable for your medical bills moving forward, meaning if your lawsuit is unsuccessful or if you medical bills exceed the amount of your verdict, you are responsible for paying the difference out of your own pocket.
PIP benefits are designed to ensure an injured driver or passenger has access to medical benefits in a timely manner following an accident. If you carry only a minimal amount of PIP benefits because you are counting on the other driver's insurance to cover your medical bills immediately, you most likely will run into major issues. The insurance company for the other driver will not want to pay your medical bills since it makes it appear the insurance company is conceding their insured driver was completely liable for the accident. In most instances, the other driver's insurance will deny liability until a settlement is reached (which could potential take years), and until that time, you will be responsible for your own medical bills and the negative credit consequences that come from your failure to pay those bills in a timely fashion.
THE FOREGOING IS A GENERAL DISCUSSION OF THE LAW AND SHOULD NOT BE INTERPRETED TO BE LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC QUESTION, PLEASE CONTACT OUR OFFICE AND SPEAK TO AN ATTORNEY. WWGR SERVES THE ENTIRE LEHIGH VALLEY AND NORTHWESTERN NEW JERSEY.