If you live in New Jersey and drive a car, you’ve probably heard the phrase “no-fault state”. But what exactly does “no-fault” mean, and how does it affect you if you’re involved in a car accident?
The “no-fault” law in New Jersey means that, in the event of a car accident, both parties turn to their own auto insurance policies to make claims, regardless of who was at fault. To cover this, all New Jersey drivers must have Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance included in their car insurance policy. In short, PIP insurance coverage will cover your medical expenses when your injuries were because of a car accident. With New Jersey’s no-fault law and your PIP coverage, you can seek medical attention right away, without waiting for the insurance companies to decide who is responsible.
No-fault laws are supposed to make it easier for those injured in a car accident to seek medical treatment. However, there are some restrictions. For example, PIP may cover your expenses if you or your family members are hurt in a car or school bus accident or as a pedestrian. Your PIP insurance may also cover your lost wages. It may also cover expenses incurred because of your accident, such as additional childcare if your injuries have made it impossible for you to care for your children. What expenses are covered are laid out in the Insurance Declaration Page. PIP insurance also covers these same expenses for any passengers in the vehicle. There are several exceptions where you’re not covered with PIP including, but not limited to: (1) Using your car for a ride-sharing service, such as Uber; or (2) driving Intoxicated or committed a felony with your vehicle at the time of the accident.
Using your own health insurance to cover medical expenses because of a car accident:
New Jersey law recognizes that PIP coverage may overlap with a standard health insurance policy. That’s why you may list your health care provider as your main source of medical coverage and use PIP for lost wages and death benefits. However, it is recommended to always have your auto insurance primary for PIP/medical benefits.
Suing the other driver to recover your medical expenses:
If your injuries are serious enough that they meet the law’s “verbal threshold,” or exceed your PIP coverage, then you may choose to file a lawsuit against the other driver.