What Is Personal Injury Protection Insurance in Pennsylvania and New Jersey?
Personal Injury Protection Insurance (PIP) in PA and NJ
Personal Injury Protection insurance – also known as PIP – is no-fault insurance coverage that pays the costs associated with medical expenses that result from a car accident. PIP covers medical costs even for people who do not have health insurance. PIP may not cover other expenses, such as damage to your car or lost wages, depending on how much coverage you have.
What If I am Injured in a Car Accident in PA or NJ?
If you are injured in a car accident, you may have expenses that result from treatment for your injuries. Your personal injury protection insurance policy will cover your initial medical expenses (to a limit), after which your health insurance policy will kick in. This is true for anyone involved in the accident, regardless of fault. Your PIP policy may or may not cover damage to your car and other expenses you incur while you are recovering from your auto accident.
Does the State I Live in Require Personal Injury Protection Insurance?
Both New Jersey and Pennsylvania require car owners to carry personal injury protection insurance coverage. These are "no-fault" states, so your PIP policy will cover your medical expenses regardless of who was at fault for your accident. Most PIP policies have both a minimum (about $5000) and a maximum limit on coverage (around $25,000). It is illegal in these states to operate a car without carrying PIP insurance. However, PIP is not required for the operation of a motorcycle or other motorized vehicle.
The fact that motorcycle operators are not required to carry PIP is distressing. Motorcycle accidents result in serious bodily injury, brain injury, and death far more often than car accidents. If you are involved in a motorcycle, recreational vehicle, or skimobile accident, speak to an injury attorney about your right to compensation for your injuries.
Filing Your Car Accident Claim
If you have been seriously injured in a car accident that was caused by another driver’s negligence, there is a very real chance that your PIP insurance will not cover your full range of physical, financial, and emotional losses. In such an instance, you’ll need to file a car accident claim, and proceeding with an experienced PA and NJ car accident attorney is well advised. Obtaining just compensation for your losses (or legal damages) in their entirety is likely critical to your recovery, and a dedicated car accident lawyer can help you with that.
Once Your PIP Coverage Is Exhausted
A serious car accident can quickly exhaust your PIP coverage, and when this is the case, your best option is seeking just compensation by filing a car accident claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance provider. There are three primary categories of loss you can pursue.
Serious injuries not only mean extensive medical costs at the outset but can also involve the need for ongoing medical care. Paralysis and some traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) – both of which are common to serious car accidents – are prime examples. Settling a car accident claim before your full range of medical needs (including potential future needs) is well established can leave you facing serious financial hardship.
While you are recovering from your physical injuries, you are very likely to be off the job and to experience a resulting decrease in earnings. While this immediate loss in income – while your medical bills continue to mount – is challenging, the matter can be that much more so if your earning potential and the trajectory of your career are affected. This is not to mention the emotional challenges many car accident victims experience as a result of career losses.
Pain and Suffering
While your PIP coverage does not address your physical and emotional pain and suffering, your car accident claim can and should. The fact is that the psychic pain endured by accident victims can be one of the most challenging aspects to master and move past, which makes it an important element of your car accident claim.
Your accomplished PA and NJ car accident lawyer will help to ensure that your losses – in their entirety – are well represented in your car accident claim. Regaining your health and well-being is too important to leave to chance.
If you believe you share fault for the car accident that leaves you injured, this is a matter to discuss with your savvy car accident lawyer. The truth is that many of us are quick to blame ourselves when things go wrong, but even if you are partially at fault (as long as you are not more than 50 percent to blame), you can seek compensation for the percentage of fault that the other driver bears. Consider the following simplified example:
- You were speeding slightly when the injury-causing accident occurred and are deemed to bear 10 percent of fault in the matter.
- You settle your car accident claim for $50,000 (or receive a $50,000 award from the court).
- Your compensation ($50,000) will be reduced by 10 percent ($5,000), and you will receive $45,000 in total ($50,000 reduced by $5,000).
Unanticipated Expenses from an Accident in Pennsylvania
PIP covers costs associated with your accident, including ambulance fees, emergency room visits, inpatient hospital stays, surgeries, and rehabilitation. However, there may be additional costs that you have not considered. These may include:
- The cost of repairs to your car, or the cost of a new car
- Lost wages – if your injuries are serious, you might require a prolonged period of recovery that exceeds your paid sick leave
- Childcare and household assistance – if you are the primary caregiver for your children, you might need to hire help while you recover
- Emotional pain and suffering
Your PIP Might Not Cover Trauma in Pennsylvania
There is a great deal of evidence today that trauma can continue to interfere with your physical and mental health long after the traumatic event has passed. Emotional and psychological trauma can cause long-term suffering, known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
PTSD can manifest as substance abuse issues, anxiety disorders, sleep disorders, and fatigue. Some people with PTSD develop an aversion to doctors, and this can cause complications to their health. In more serious cases, PTSD can cause flashbacks, nightmares, and hallucinations. According to American Psychological Association, motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of PTSD since the Vietnam War. PTSD is a complex condition that could require extensive treatment.
Even if your personal protection insurance covers the treatment you require immediately following an accident, symptoms that appear weeks, months, even years after may not be covered. In addition, the crippling symptoms of PTSD can make navigating appointments and insurance claims very difficult.
Another scenario that could exceed your PIP benefits is a traumatic brain injury. TBI -- the most common serious injury resulting from auto accidents -- nearly always requires long-term treatment and rehabilitation. It is possible that your need for extensive treatment related to TBI will quickly exceed your insurance policy’s limit.
How Can I Get Compensation for My Accident in PA or NJ?
Your personal injury protection insurance coverage might be sufficient to offset all of the expenses that result from your car accident. If not, you can still file a personal injury claim with an attorney. In order to maximize the chances that you will receive compensation, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will make sure you are receiving the care you need and will remind you to request copies of your hospital records, police report, and any photos that were taken at the scene of the accident.
Hiring an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
Many victims of car accidents are concerned about affording a skilled car accident attorney – just when they are facing all the following expenses:
- Vehicle damage
- Medical bills
- Lost income
While these expenses are very real, the surest way to cover these losses and support your most complete recovery is with a trusted PA and NJ car accident lawyer in your corner, and the good news is that you can afford to hire such an attorney. Most reputable car accident lawyers work on what is called contingency, and this simply means that their pay is contingent upon – or based upon – your claim’s settlement amount. If your case does not ultimately prevail and you receive nothing, you’ll owe nothing. If, on the other hand, you do receive a settlement or court award, your car accident lawyer will receive a prearranged percentage of that amount. In other words, there is no financial risk to you.
The Insurance Company Handling Your Claim in Pennsylvania
You will file your car accident claim with the at-fault driver’s car insurance provider, and while this enterprise is paid to cover your claim, it is in the business of making money, which means that it will do what it can to keep your settlement amount as low as possible. Some of the primary tactics you should be aware of include:
- Denying your claim from the outset
- Making an early, lowball settlement offer
- Artificially complicating and/or prolonging the claims process
- Casting doubt regarding the extent of your covered damages
Leave the insurance company to your car accident attorney while you tend to the important business of your physical and emotional recovery.
To File a Claim, Call a Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney
The minutes, days, and weeks following a car accident can be scary and confusing, but the information you gather and preserve can determine your financial future. A Philadelphia personal injury attorney can help you sort out all of the details of your case and file a lawsuit on your behalf. You may be entitled to monetary compensation that will help you get back on your feet. Contact us today for a free consultation. At Mattiacci Law, LLC, we are always available to take your call, and you pay nothing until we win your case.