Earlier this year, a New Jersey Supreme Court opinion in the case of Haines V. Taft held that plaintiffs could no longer pursue unreimbursed medical expenses less than the personal injury protection (PIP) limit of $250,000 after being injured in a car accident.
That opinion, however, was quickly overruled by two new bills: S. 2432 and S. 3963. Both were signed into law by Governor Murphy on August 15, 2019, and amended statute N.J.S.A. 39:6A-12. Under the two new bills, plaintiffs can't be billed for medical expenses claimed as car accident damages. In addition, the plaintiffs may be entitled to reasonable attorney's fees after a settlement is reached.
The purpose of the two bills
S. 2432 asserts that plaintiffs may now present their medical expenses exceeding their PIP limit as evidence in court. That means that all unreimbursed medical expenses can be claimed against the liable parties. This includes self-funded health care plans that assert valid liens. This bill went into effect immediately.
S. 3963 applies specifically to crashes that occurred on or after August 1st, 2019. Plaintiffs may make claims for all unpaid medical costs not covered by their PIP policy limits. This includes the value of any deductibles and copayments incurred by a driver's secondary insurance coverage and medical liabilities asserted by a health insurance company in connection with the treatment of accident-related injuries.
What you should do if you're involved in a crash
Being involved in a car accident can be physically and emotionally taxing. What's worse, the complications that arise in the days following a crash can leave some people unsure of which course of action is right.
In the event of a crash, it's important that you follow these steps in order to reduce any legal complications that may arise increase your odds of building a solid claim:
- Take pictures of the crash scene and speak to witnesses, if you're able to. Visual evidence and witness statements can be helpful when pursuing damages against liable parties.
- Get medical help as soon as possible, even if you feel OK. Some injuries may only become apparent days after a crash. Getting a prompt medical evaluation can help you recover faster and provide a true basis for your medical costs.
- Speak to an experienced car accident attorney. You will likely be contacted by the liable party's insurance company after a crash. It's important that you refrain from speaking to them. They may attempt to offer you a quick settlement, but once you accept it, you won't be able to pursue further damages.
The attorneys at Kotlar, Hernandez & Cohen, LLC have real courtroom experience advocating for the rights of injured motorists. We'll fight aggressively to help you recover every penny you're entitled to. Contact us online today to set up your free consultation.