Auto, Truck or Bus Accident FAQs
1. How much insurance do I need on my vehicles?
You should purchase as much as you can afford and which will adequately protect your family. At a minimum we recommend following the chart below:
|X||Basic Policy (absolutely not)|
|X||Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Protection|
|X||Underinsured Motorist Protection and Liability Limits of at least $100,000 (may not exceed amount of liability coverage|
|X||Limitation of Lawsuit Option|
|X||No Limitation on Lawsuit Option|
|X||$250,000 PIP (to pay for your medical bills)|
2. What is the verbal/lawsuit threshold?
The verbal/lawsuit threshold restricts an injured person’s ability to bring a claim for damages as a result of a collision. A claim can be brought only if the injury comes within one of the categories defined by the statute. This restriction applies to all persons insured under your policy including your children. This differs from a no threshold lawsuit where a person can sue for any injury they sustain. If at all possible you should pay the extra premium and choose “no threshold”.
3. What is an umbrella policy?
An umbrella policy is a liability policy that insures people for many different types of liability. It usually provides coverage over and above your automobile insurance policy and your homeowner’s policy but only for your liability. The coverage is relatively cheap and a good idea to have if you have assets to protect.
4. What should I do if I am involved in an auto, truck or bus collision?
You should immediately notify the police and report the collision to your own insurance company. Also, take pictures of your car and any injuries you sustained. Make note of any witnesses to the collision. If you seek medical attention, make sure you give an accurate history of what happened in the collision to your treating doctors and nurses.
5. Who pays for my medical bills if I am involved in automobile collision?
You automobile insurance company is responsible for paying your medical bills, unless you have elected to have your health insurance as the primary carrier. Under your automobile insurance policy there will be a deductible and co-pay which will be your responsibility.
6. What does “NO-FAULT” insurance mean?
“No-Fault” insurance means that your own automobile insurance company will pay for your medical bills regardless of whether you are at fault for the collision.
7. Can I use my underinsurance (UIM) coverage whenever the person who causes the collision does not have enough insurance to pay for my injuries?
No, in New Jersey underinsurance (UIM) coverage can be used only when the person who causes the collision has less insurance coverage then your underinsured limits. For example, if your underinsured limits are $100,000 and the defendant has a $50,000 policy, you would have access to the difference.
8. What damages are recoverable in an auto, truck or bus crash?
In New Jersey compensatory damages may include: pain and suffering, disability, impairment, loss of enjoyment of life, past and future lost wages, medical bills and in some instances property damage. In the case of a death see the wrongful death heading.
9. Will I have any out-of-pocket expenses with my personal injury protection (PIP) coverage under my automobile insurance coverage?
In New Jersey you are responsible for your deductible and co-pay. The basic policy has a $250 deductible and a 20% co-pay up to $5,000. Therefore, the maximum amount of out-of-pocket expenses you will incur under the basic policy is $1200. There are also higher deductible amounts that you can choose which will increase your out-of-pocket expenses. In those cases your deductible can be as high as $5000. You are responsible for the co-pay and deductible and not the person that caused the collision. However, you can submit any unpaid deductible and co-pay to your private insurance company for payment.
10. Should I keep a record of all of my bills from medical treatment?
Yes, you should always keep records of your bills so that you will know whether your insurance company has paid your doctor’s bills. You should notify an attorney immediately if your bills are not being paid within 60 days from the time they were submitted. Your failure to do this may result in the bills not having to be paid.
11. What do I do if my insurance company stops paying my medical bills?
You should contact your attorney and should continue to send all new bills to your insurance company. In New Jersey if the insurance company continues to deny payment, your attorney can to file a demand for arbitration with the National Arbitration Forum or file a PIP lawsuit in the Superior Court to force the insurance company to pay your bills.
12. Does my insurance company have the right to terminate my medical treatment?
In New Jersey your insurance company may stop paying for your medical treatment if, after you have been examined by their doctor, they determine that you have reached maximum medical benefit. If your doctors determine that you still need treatment, your attorney can file a demand for arbitration or PIP lawsuit to get your outstanding medical bills paid and restore your treatment.
13. Can passengers be at fault for causing an accident?
Unless the passengers in some way interfered with the driver, they will generally not be at fault for causing an accident.
14. What happens if I was hurt in an accident but was not wearing my seat belt?
If the defendant can prove that you were negligent in not using an available seat belt and that your injuries were made more severe because you were not using the seat belt, the jury will be asked to reduce your total damages by the percentage of injuries they attribute to your failure to use the seat belt.
15. What should I do if my insurance company calls me and asks me for a statement?
You have a duty to cooperate with your insurance company. However, you also have a right to retain an attorney before you give any statement. Having an attorney is the only way you can be sure your rights will be protected.