Auto Insurance After an Accident in New Jersey
Most people do not spend much time thinking about their automobile insurance policy. In fact, if you are lucky, you may never use your car insurance at all. Some people, however, find out the hard way that you may find yourself reliant on your auto insurance policy even when you are not at fault for an accident or even if you were not even driving at all.
Under New Jersey’s “no-fault” law, you are required to recover for personal injury through your own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault for the motor vehicle accident. In other words, if you are involved in an auto accident and seek medical treatment, you will need to make a claim with your car insurance company, rather than the insurance company of the driver who caused the accident.
The amount of PIP benefits available to you in New Jersey is determined by several factors, one of which is within your control: the policy limits of the insurance you purchase. Although there are minimum coverage amounts required by law, you are free to purchase higher amounts and it is recommended that you do so. Since in New Jersey you will need to make a claim for medical expenses under your own insurance policy, this is where many people who chose minimum policies later regret their decision.
Medical Coverage & Benefits after a Car Accident in New Jersey
PIP benefits in New Jersey are available for the medically necessary treatment, diagnostic exams, and durable medical equipment for: 1) you; 2) eligible family members; and 3) certain passengers who traveled with you if they suffered an injury. In some circumstances, PIP benefits may also be payable for injuries suffered by a pedestrian as a result of a car accident.
Only certain types of benefits are payable under New Jersey’s PIP statute. They include:
Medical Expenses. PIP benefits in New Jersey cover the cost of “medically necessary treatment,” diagnostic exams, and durable medical equipment prescribed for any injuries that result from the motor vehicle accident. Depending on which PIP benefits you purchase, coverage for medical expenses can range from $15,000 to $250,000 per person for medical treatment.
Lost Wages. If you suffered injuries in the auto accident that prevent you from being able to work, PIP will pay for lost wages (referred to as income continuation) up to your policy limits. Any state-issued disability benefits, however, will be subtracted from the income continuation benefits you are eligible to receive. The minimum policy amount, however, would only pay benefits of up to $100 a week for up to 52 weeks per person. Additional coverage, however, can be purchased above this minimum amount.
Essential Services. If the accident resulted in you being unable to perform necessary services such as yard work, snow removal, or laundry, the amount of PIP benefits you may be eligible to receive for these services is $12.00 per day under the minimum policy, although you can purchase more coverage.
Death Benefits. The estate of an individual who died as a result of the motor vehicle accident is entitled to receive the remaining income continuation (lost wages) and essential services benefits that have not been paid up to the date of death. Using the minimum policy amounts, however, the maximum income continuation benefits available would be $5,200 ($100 week over 52 months), while the maximum essential services benefits available would be $4,380 ($12 day over 365 days). Thus, if the deceased did not draw either income continuation or essential services benefits before death, the estate would be entitled to $9,580 in death benefits.
Funeral Expenses. Under the minimum policy, PIP benefits available for funeral expenses are limited to $1,000.00.
Experienced Car Accident Attorneys in New Jersey
As you can see, PIP benefits can be quite complicated. To fully protect your rights and preserve your interests, contact the experienced Personal Injury Protection attorneys at Harrell, Smith and Williams today at (908) 264-7228 to discuss your case. They are experienced with dealing with insurance coverage after a car accident in New Jersey.