If you're in a car accident, personal injury protection makes it easier to get medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses covered by insurance. Personal injury protection is also known as PIP or “no-fault” insurance, and the law requires it as a part of all personal automobile insurance policies sold in the state of New Jersey.
PIP is part of your insurance policy, and it pays for your injuries regardless of who is at fault in an auto accident. Although PIP is required by NJ law, you do have several options when selecting coverage. Understanding your options and how personal injury protection works in New Jersey can help you select coverage that will provide the most benefit in the event of a car accident
If you were involved in a car accident and have questions about your PIP coverage, contact a New Jersey auto accident lawyer right away. Experienced legal counsel can help ensure that you receive the compensation you are owed from PIP and advise you on options for filing a lawsuit if you were seriously injured.
NJ's Personal Injury Protection Statute
Under New Jersey Legislative Statutes §39:9A-4, every standard auto insurance policy issued in the state must include personal injury protection benefits. People sometimes call PIP “no fault” insurance because you receive the benefits regardless of negligence, liability, or fault; meaning you can receive PIP benefits even if you caused the car accident.
When an accident is not your fault, personal injury protection is still beneficial. Knowing that your insurance premiums and deductibles are being used to cover injuries caused by someone else can be frustrating, but PIP lets you receive compensation quickly. There is no need to wait for insurance companies or police to determine who caused the accident. You also won't have to deal with the stress of trying to collect payment from the other driver's insurance company.
PIP benefits are available to the named insurance holder and any family members who reside in the same household. Persons who are riding in or borrowing the named insurance holder's vehicle are also usually covered. However, be aware your insurance may not provide coverage if an accident occurs while you are driving for services like Uber or Lyft. If you use your car for commercial purposes, you may need additional or special insurance.
Medical Costs Covered by NJ Personal Injury Protection
New Jersey personal injury protection covers a wide variety of medical expenses related to an auto accident. Under New Jersey law, you may be eligible to have the following types of bills reimbursed through PIP coverage:
- Costs for an ambulance
- Diagnostic services and medical testing
- Medical services and treatment
- Surgery and hospital bills
- Rehabilitation and physical therapy expenses
This medical coverage can be extremely valuable and significantly ease the financial stress of paying for medical care if you or your family are in a car wreck. However, there are limits on the benefits you can receive. PIP will only cover medical expenses up to the amount of the policy limits you selected.
Additionally, any treatment or testing must be directly related to injuries sustained in the auto accident. N.J.S.A. §39:6A-4(a) requires that treatment and tests “be commonly accepted as being beneficial for the treatment of the covered injury.” Working with an NJ personal injury attorney after an accident can help ensure that your medical expenses are covered.
Other Expenses Paid for by PIP Benefits
Personal injury protection in NJ covers more than just medical bills. If a car accident injury leaves you unable to work, your PIP policy may pay income continuation benefits. However, these benefits rarely replace all lost income and may only pay $100 per week.
Under N.J.S.A. §39:6A-4(c), PIP also provides benefits to pay for essential services. These benefits pay up to $12 per day for services to complete everyday tasks that a person is unable to perform due to their injury. Examples of such tasks include house cleaning, cooking, laundry, and yard work. Finally, PIP provides death benefits and covers some funeral expenses if the named insurance holder or another covered party is killed in a car accident.
Options for PIP Coverage in New Jersey
Drivers in New Jersey should understand how selecting PIP coverage works to ensure that sufficient benefits will be available after an accident. Understanding your PIP coverage will help you know what to expect and help ensure that you get all of the benefits available to you.
NJ requires a minimum of $15,000 of personal injury protection coverage, but drivers may purchase up to $250,000 of coverage. While a lower coverage amount is certainly cheaper in terms of insurance premiums, it may leave you without much-needed benefits if you're seriously hurt. Ambulance rides, hospital stays, and other medical care can result in extreme medical bills.
You also have the option of selecting a deductible amount, which is the amount you must pay out of pocket before your PIP insurance coverage begins to pay. A higher deductible means a lower insurance premium but will leave you with a larger out-of-pocket bill if you're in an accident.
Finally, drivers have the option to select their health insurance as their primary coverage under NJ's personal injury protection laws. Some people prefer this option because it can reduce the cost of their auto insurance, but it does have drawbacks. Selecting this option usually means that PIP coverage won't pay for anything until your health insurance coverage is exhausted. Health insurance coverage rarely runs out, meaning you may not get the PIP benefits you paid for with your auto insurance. You may be stuck with expensive medical bills due to deductibles, co-insurance, and limitations on your health insurance policy.
Claiming PIP Benefits After an Accident
After an accident, you will need to provide your insurance carrier with written notice of your injuries promptly. Your insurance carrier will likely require you to file a PIP form, which will ask for information on your injuries, the accident, and what treatment you have received. You may also need to provide a notice from your doctor.
Because NJ personal injury protection isn't based on fault, you may feel like your benefits are guaranteed and will be easy to collect. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Failing to provide your insurance company with the proper types of notices and comply with deadlines can result in a reduction or loss of PIP benefits. Insurance companies sometimes dispute the necessity of treatments or may even claim that the car accident didn't cause your injury.
Contacting a qualified NJ personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after a motor vehicle accident can help ensure that you don't lose any of your PIP benefits. Experienced lawyers will help you file claims and communicate with your insurance company. In cases of severe injuries that will not be fully covered by PIP, a lawyer can advise you on your options for filing a personal injury lawsuit.
Recovering from car accident injuries can be a long and painful process. Financial compensation doesn't fix everything, but it can ease stress and help you get the care you need to recover. Understanding your options for NJ personal injury protection may help ensure that benefits are available for you or your family after an accident.
If you are injured in a car accident, an experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer like those at Villani & DeLuca can work to make sure you get the most out of your personal injury protection coverage. You can contact a personal injury lawyer at Villani & DeLuca online or by calling (732) 709-7757.