The New Jersey Supreme Court has issued an opinion that is going to make it much more difficult for drivers who are injured in a car accident to pay their medical bills. Every driver in the state of New Jersey should immediately take a look at their auto insurance policy to make sure they are not negatively impacted by this new ruling.
Every driver in the state of New Jersey is required to purchase automobile insurance that pays their own medical bills if the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, regardless of who caused the accident. Drivers can purchase as little as $15,000 and as much as $250,000 of this insurance, which is called Personal Injury Protection (“PIP”).
In the past, drivers whose medical bills exceeded the value of their insurance policy’s PIP benefits could sue the other driver for additional compensation. A recent ruling from the New Jersey Supreme Court now forbids such suits.
The justices reasoned that the legislature wrote a no-fault insurance law and mandated minimum PIP coverage because they wanted everyone in the state to have access to some sort of medical coverage, no matter who actually caused the accident that resulted in injuries. In the court’s opinion, allowing injured people to sue for costs that go beyond what their own insurance will pay introduces fault into the system again.
Basically, the court doesn’t want insurance buyers to think they can save a few dollars each year by buying cheap insurance, and then sue someone later if the insurance they bought wasn’t good enough.
How does this affect me?
If you tried to minimize the cost of your insurance, you may have only purchased the minimum amount of PIP coverage required by law, $15,000. That may have been a good decision at the time, but the court’s new ruling means you may not be able to get more than $15,000 if you are injured in a car accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, no matter who was at fault. In other words, any medical bills above your PIP limits may be your responsibility even if you did not cause the accident.
You should immediately check your current insurance policy, and determine if you would like to up your PIP benefits.
Need someone to take a look at your PIP policy? We can help.
Now more than ever, it is critical that you pay close attention to exactly what sort of coverage your insurance policies provide. If you need help determining if your current policy provides the sort of coverage you want, or you want advice before shopping for a new policy, don’t hesitate to give our office a call. We have lots of experience combing through the details of various insurance policies, and we are happy to share the knowledge we have gained with you.
Posted in: Car Accidents