The New Jersey laws governing who is responsible to pay the medical bills for people injured in a motor vehicle accident are very complicated. The first step in determining who pays the medical bills is to examine the circumstances surrounding the accident and the insurance coverage available to the injured person. New Jersey is a no-fault state. This means that for most cases the medical bills are paid through the car insurance policy. The amount of coverage available depends on the coverage selected by the insured, as well as the relationship between the injured person and the insured. Under the standard automobile insurance policy that was in force for many years, people injured in a motor vehicle accidents had a policy limit of $250,000. However, changes in the law allowed insurance companies to offer lower limits of coverage and in many cases, virtually no coverage at all. One of the options that is generally available today is referred to as "Health Insurance Primary". Under this coverage a person’s health insurance policy will pay their medical bills, not the car insurance policy. There are other policies referred to as "Dollar-A-Day Policies" available only to low income individuals which provides only emergency treatment immediately following an accident. This type of policy does not provide any coverage for routine medical treatment involving things such as outpatient medical office visits or therapy.
Recent changes to the automobile insurance laws now allow a wide variety of deductibles and insurance coverage limits. Unfortunately, most of these options are very bad for the insured. Generally, speaking, the insurance companies are offering much less coverage with much higher deductibles. We are now seeing many cases where people select greatly reduced amounts of coverage, sometimes as low as $15,000 with deductibles as high as $2,500. This type of policy provides insufficient coverage in the event of a serious injury involving extended treatment.
There also numerous other situations in which coverage may be available even if a person does not have their own car insurance. New Jersey (NJPLIGA) provides $250,000 in coverage for medical bills, available for people who have no insurance of their own and are injured by uninsured vehicles. For example, an uninsured person crossing a street who is struck by a hit-and-run vehicle will be entitled to $250,000 of coverage whereas a person with their own car insurance who has selected limited coverage may be entitled to much less coverage. There are other circumstances where a person may be entitled to no coverage for medical bills even though they have car insurance. For example, passengers in taxi cabs or livery vehicles, (which are not considered private passenger automobiles under the law), are not entitled to payment of their medical bills under the no-fault section of their insurance policy.
As all of this indicates, the laws regulating the amount of insurance coverage available for payment of medical bills in the state of New Jersey are very complicated. It is important that your medical bills be submitted to the correct insurance company early on in your case to ensure that they are properly paid. Therefore, if you are injured you need an experienced lawyer who regularly deals with these issues. At Druckman and Hernandez we have over 20 years of experience in dealing with these issues and have handled thousands of claims involving motor vehicle accidents and medical bills.
If you are injured it is imperative that you know your rights and how to protect yourself to ensure that your medical bills get paid. Druckman & Hernandez offers FREE case evaluations and consultations. You can set up an appointment to speak with an attorney by contacting us 24/7 at 908-353-5850.