After a car accident in Philadelphia that results in injuries, getting medical bills paid can become a source of stress. But it doesn’t have to be. Most Philadelphia residents who get injured in a car accident have no idea that they have a specific coverage available to them on their own insurance policy, called PIP (Personal Injury Protection). Visit the Pennsylvania & New Jersey Auto Law Library for more info about Philadelphia car accident law.
PIP Basics – It’s Your OWN Insurance Co., Not the At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Co.
PIP is mandatory on every car insurance policy issued in Pennsylvania, and it’s available without regard to fault. So, even if you caused a car accident and need medical treatment, you make a PIP claim on your policy. The same goes for drivers, passengers, pedestrians and bike riders who are injured in a car accident that was caused by another driver. This tends to be confusing for most folks. It’s a natural question, why should my insurance have to pay when the other driver caused the accident? The answer is, it’s the law in PA. Years ago, the PA legislature (and those of many states in the U.S.) decided that getting medical bills paid after a car accident is so important that it must be available to everyone who has a car insurance policy regardless of fault. If you’re injured, you make a PIP claim under your own policy. Period.
Another question injured individuals have when making a PIP claim is, will my premiums go up? The answer is probably not. Your insurance company can’t raise your premiums for having to make a PIP claim, so long as another driver was at fault. However, each year, insurance premiums rise on their own, based on how a specific insurance company is doing from a financial standpoint. It’s not uncommon for someone who makes a PIP claim, for an accident that wasn’t their fault, to then see higher premiums due to the insurance company’s own assessment of all claims.
What’s Covered Under PIP?
PIP covers medical bills, lost wages, funeral expenses and some out of pocket expenses (like household help). The minimum amount of PIP that’s required on every policy in Pennsylvania is $5,000, per person, per accident. However, many PA residents including residents in Philadelphia select higher limits, such as $50,000 or $100,000.
PIP Claim Form (Application & Authorization Forms)
In order to begin receiving PIP benefits, the insured individual will have to fill out a PIP claim form which typically includes an application and medical authorization forms. Usually, these forms will be sent as soon as the insurance company is notified of the car accident. From a practical standpoint, it’s important to notify your insurance company of the need for PIP benefits as soon as possible. Your insurance policy probably has a section that requires you to notify them within a specific number of days, usually 5 business days of the date of the accident. Every insurance company and policy is different, so you must check your own policy to be sure. If you wait too long, you may be prevented from making a PIP claim.
Practical Pointers for PIP Claims
- With respect to the injuries, be thorough on the PIP claim application. Usually, by the time you get the PIP forms, you’ll have a good picture of the injuries you sustained. Sometimes, back injuries don’t present themselves fully until a few days after the accident, and you might not have all diagnoses yet. Even so, you should list injured body parts and symptoms. Being thorough can prevent problems later.
- Provide your auto insurance info (insurance co., policy number, etc.) to your medical providers. Most medical billing offices are well-versed in how to handle PIP claims and will contact the insurance company to get the ball rolling. If you don’t give your auto insurance info and give your health insurance info instead, you can create problems with the billing. You may end up paying a co-pay or deductible unnecessarily. Also, after the PIP claim gets opened, you’ll be assigned a PIP claim number. You should give that number to your medical providers after it becomes available.
Beware – Don’t Speak to the Other, At-Fault Driver’s Insurance Co.
In some instances, you may get a call from the at-fault driver’s insurance company asking about the accident and your injuries. Don’t get duped into speaking to the other, at-fault driver’s insurance company. You have absolutely no obligation to do so.
If you speak to the other insurance company, you may end up causing problems later with your legal claims against the driver. Something you say can be used or twisted around to argue that you don’t have the injuries you say you do or you were somehow at fault for causing the accident.
Bottom line: it is never a good idea to speak to anyone about the accident and your injuries, other than your own insurance company, your medical providers and your lawyer.
Philadelphia Car Accident Law Firm – Free Consultations
Our Philadelphia personal injury law firm handles all types of auto accident cases in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We’ve recovered nearly $200 million for our clients and are rated as “Top Personal Injury Lawyers” by Super Lawyers magazine. (866) 641-0806
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