Sep 162014

Question: I was rear-ended at a stop light in Mt. Laurel. I had neck pain after the accident but thought it would go away with rest. It didn’t go away. In fact it got worse in the days that followed and I needed to see a doctor. Can I ask the other driver to pay for my medical expenses?

Answer: Unfortunately, you can’t. The reason you can’t has nothing to do with the fact that it has been a few days after the accident. The reason you can’t is because of New Jersey’s no fault principle.

Under New Jersey law, an injured driver’s medical expenses are covered by his own car insurance policy regardless of who caused the accident. This specific benefit is called PIP or medical benefits. It is also called first party benefits. Therefore, a driver injured in a car accident due to another careless driver makes a claim with his own car insurance company for medical expenses. When receiving medical treatment, an injured NJ driver needs to provide the hospital and/or medical physicians his car insurance information, and not the insurance information of the other driver.

In your case, you would need to call your insurance company to report your injuries. The statutory default medical benefits available to an injured NJ driver is $250,000.   However, there is a deductible injured drivers must pay out of pocket before PIP benefits kick in. The default deductible amount is $250, but it may be higher if you chose a higher deductible in exchange for a lower premium. See NJ Car Accident Law: Even with Medical Benefits Coverage, Injured Drivers Still Have to Pay Out of Pocket Medical Expenses for a detailed discussion on NJ PIP coverage.

Despite the fact that you can’t ask the at-fault driver to pay for your medical expenses, you may file a NJ car accident lawsuit against the driver. Some of the damages you may recover include:

  • medical expenses,
  • lost wages,
  • out of pocket expenses, and
  • pain and suffering.

Since your car accident happened in Mt. Laurel, you would file a car accident lawsuit in Burlington County, NJ.

Whether you can file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver will be dependent on your injuries and the type of car insurance you have. If you chose “no limitation on lawsuit” when you purchased your car insurance, you will be able to file a lawsuit to recover pain and suffering. If you chose “limitation on lawsuit,” you will not be able to file a lawsuit to recover pain and suffering unless your injuries fall within certain injury categories provided by the law. See New Jersey Car Accidents & Verbal Threshold – Can Injured Car Accident Victims Recover Damages?

As you can see, filing a NJ car accident lawsuit can be complicated. It is advisable that you speak to a car accident lawyer in Mt. Laurel who can properly assess your case. Feel free to call our office to schedule a FREE consultation. 800.281.8695

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