A question we get often is, I was in a car accident, no health insurance – what do I do? See a doctor if you are injured, because likely you are covered for medical expenses. How? Through the automobile insurance policy in Pennsylvania and in New Jersey. Pennsylvania, and New Jersey are called No Fault Car Insurance States (along with Washington D.C., Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, and Utah). What that means is that all auto insurance policies come with something called Personal Injury Protection or PIP which covers your medical bills. So if you are in a car accident, but have no health insurance, it does not matter, through PIP you will have some level of medical coverage from your own auto policy.
Wait, The Auto Insurance Policy Is Not Mine
You likely still have medical coverage under PIP. How it works is if the auto insurance policy is not yours, you will next look at any auto insurance policy held by a relative that lives with you in the household for PIP. If you have no resident relative with auto insurance coverage, then you look to the car you were in at the time of the accident’s policy for PIP coverage.
Did you get all that? It can certainly get confusing, but don’t worry, we deal with these types of issues on a daily basis and the exact reason you should use our car accident expertise to help ensure your medical bills get paid.
How Much Medical Coverage Does PIP Provide?
The answer is it varies from State to State, in Pennsylvania the minimum PIP coverage is $5,000.00, but for a small price in your premium you can get much more coverage. We always suggest at least pricing out a higher level of PIP coverage through your auto insurance company, and you should certainly do so if you don’t have health insurance – remember you should get as much PIP as you can afford.
Why Am I Getting Medical Bills and Collections Notices?
This happens often with ambulance and hospital services, because they are big entities that deal with a lot of car accidents on a daily basis, they screw up when billing. Think about it, the ambulance is there at the scene of the car accident, bringing you to the hospital, but most time has yet to be reported to any insurance carriers – so there is no claim number to bill to yet. The billing department at these providers are less than diligent, and will just send a bill directly to the person involved in the accident, rather then finding out the claim number under which it should be billed. We advise all of our car accident clients to forward any bills they receive to our office immediately so that we can help to sort them out, try to avoid collections calls and marks against your credit.
What Happens If My Medical Bills Are More Than PIP
Even with no health insurance, many doctors will continue to treat you, and will provide a bill for excess medical bill to your lawyer at the completion of your treatment. Doctors who are familiar with treating people involved in a car accident are familiar with this process and will not turn away an injured patient just because PIP has run out. These excess medicals are recoverable in an action against the at fault party for your car accident. Additionally, any out of pocket or unreimbursed medical expenses can be recovered in a suit against the negligent party.
The Bottom Line
If you were injured in a car accident, you can and should see a doctor, regardless of whether you have health insurance or not. You will in most instances be covered under PIP, but it gets confusing, so your best bet is always to call a top car accident law firm to help you get the medical care you need and get you maximum dollar recovery for your injury case.