Top 3 questions we get asked from people who have been hurt in car crash caused by someone else:
1. My insurance company is calling. Do I answer?
In order for your auto company to pay for needed treatment after a crash, you have a duty to cooperate with them under the PIP (Personal Injury Protection) portion of your policy. That means that they have the right to see your treatment records, so they may require you to fill out an “Application for Benefits” which includes signing a release for medical records. However, it is a good idea to look closely at language of the release to understand what exactly you are releasing. Often these forms have broad language that allows the adjuster to obtain all healthcare records, whether related to the collision or not.
Also, you do not need to provide a recorded statement to your insurance company.
2. The at-fault insurance company is calling. Do I have to talk to them?
Nope. Nada. The at-fault company is interested in protecting their insured, the at-fault driver, and often times are simply trolling for information they can use to undermine your claim. For example, “How can you be that badly hurt when on such-and-such date you said you were feeling good?” You don’t have any duty to provide information to the at-fault insurer. You don’t need to engage at all—and we recommend that you not—until you are ready to settle your claim. Ideally, that is when you are done with treatment. The statute of limitations to resolve your claim the with at-fault insurance company is 3 years from the date of the injury, so the claims adjuster threatening to close your claim before then unless you talk to them is a lot of hot air.
3. How do my bills get paid if I don’t have PIP coverage?
If your insurance company tells you that you do not have PIP coverage under your auto policy, the first thing to do is to get a copy of the waiver signed by you stating that you opt out of PIP coverage. Under the law, the company is required to offer you PIP, and the only way they can get out of providing it is if you knowingly waive the coverage.
If your company cannot produce a waiver, then they must open a PIP claim for you. Under the law, PIP allows for payment of reasonable, necessary and related medical care up to a minimum of $10,000.00 (or more if you opted for more coverage).
If your insurer does provide this waiver, your treatment claims should go through your health insurance. Ultimately your health insurance company will want reimbursement for the bills they paid. This is called subrogation and can often be a complex area of law. We recommend you consult with an attorney if you have been in an accident and want more information on this or have other questions on the process. It can be confusing and often overwhelming to be dealing with insurance companies on top of trying to heal, and it is best to trust the people who know the rules, written and unwritten—because there are a lot!