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Who pays for my medical bills following a New Jersey car accident?

If you are injured in a car accident in New Jersey, you quickly become acquainted with how expensive medical care is. Because of the expenses involved, you may wonder who pays for the medical bills. Although this seems like a simple question, the answer is surprisingly complex.

Many people assume that the insurance company of the party at fault for the car accident pays for the medical expenses. Although this seems like a fair system, it is not how things work in New Jersey, as New Jersey is a no-fault state. As a result, each driver in the state is required to purchase Personal Injury Protection (or PIP) insurance, which pays for medical expenses regardless of who's at fault.

Who actually pays for the bills?

In New Jersey, if you own a vehicle (i.e. the vehicle is registered in your name), your own car insurance pays for your medical bills. This is true, even if you weren't driving your car at the time. After it pays your bills, your insurance company later recovers its own expenses from the insurance company of the party at fault for the accident. However, you are not involved in these proceedings.

If you do not own a vehicle, the answer to who pays for your medical bills gets more complicated. Surprisingly, the rule is if a family member (i.e. parent, child, sibling, grandparent, or step-relation) who owns a vehicle lives with you, it is his or her insurance that pays for your medical expenses.

If you do not own a vehicle and do not live with a family member that owns a vehicle, generally the insurer of the vehicle in which you were injured covers your medical bills.

The rules regarding payment of medical bills vary in special circumstances. For example, if you were injured in a car accident that is connected with your employment, your medical bills are paid by workers' compensation insurance.

These rules are a general guide, as there are several exceptions to them. Unfortunately, insurance companies often take advantage of their complexity and wrongfully deny benefits to persons entitled to receive them. Because of this, it is wise to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney after a car accident to ensure that you receive the benefits you are entitled to.

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