Car accidents happen every day across Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia. As a result, car drivers and passengers are often injured, and for most of them, the accident is probably the first one they have been involved in. Naturally, they have many questions about what they should do. If they have injuries, they often have questions about medical bills and how they can recover financially. In this article, we will discuss a few of the common questions car accident victims often have.
Question: Does the at-fault driver pay for my medical bills as a result of a Philadelphia car accident?
This is probably one of the first questions car accident victims have after car accidents. Injured victims often believe that the at-fault drivers (via car insurance companies) pay for their medical expenses as a result of the injuries sustained in the car accidents. However, that is not the case.
Pursuant to Pennsylvania’s car accident law, insured car accident victims’ medical bills incurred as a result of car accidents are paid for by their own car insurance companies. This is also known as the no-fault law because regardless of who is at fault, the injured victim’s car insurance company pays for the bills via medical PIP coverage under their car insurance policy and not the at-fault driver’s insurance.
Pennsylvania law requires insured drivers to have a minimum of $5,000 in medical PIP coverage. Insured drivers can purchase a higher coverage if they choose to do so.
What happens if the PIP coverage is exhausted? Many injured drivers may think that now the at-fault driver’s insurance company would pay for the medical expenses, but that is also not the case.
For instance, an injured driver, who was hurt in a Philadelphia car accident caused by another driver, has $5,000 in PIP coverage. The driver has a broken ankle requiring surgery and a concussion that required diagnostic imaging tests. The $5,000 in PIP coverage is quickly exhausted.
So who pays for the medical bills that exceed the $5,000 PIP coverage? The answer is the injured insured driver’s health insurance coverage would be the next level of coverage. Most health insurance policies have co-pays, and injured drivers can recover the medical co-pays from the at-fault driver in a subsequent car accident lawsuit.
Question: Do I have to sue the at-fault driver immediately after the car accident?
Many car accident victims don’t know the time limits that apply when filing a car accident lawsuit. Some think that they need to do so right away, while others wait too long and lose their right to sue because too much time has passed.
2 Year Statute of Limitations in Philadelphia Car Accident Lawsuits
In Pennsylvania, car accident victims have two years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. This is known as the statute of limitations.
Sometimes, injured victims want to file a car accident lawsuit immediately after the car accident so that they can deal with it as soon as possible. However, this may be a mistake. Injuries may get worse as time goes on and complications may develop later on down the road. A settlement is based on the extent of the injuries, as they are known, prior to the date of the settlement, and not after. After a lawsuit settles, the injured victim cannot sue the at-fault driver again for complications related to the car accident injuries that surface after settlement.
Therefore, it is best to understand the injured victim’s short term and long term medical prognosis before filing a lawsuit. This is not to say one has to wait for injuries to heal prior to filing a lawsuit. Rather, it’s important to get an understanding of the extent of the injuries so they can be included in the damages. Because once a lawsuit settles, you cannot go back and sue for other injuries not brought up throughout the litigation even though the injuries may be a result of the car accident.
On the other hand, injured victims should not wait too long to file a car accident lawsuit. Two years can go by quickly, and the lawsuit must be filed within that time. If a lawsuit is filed after the 2 year statute of limitations period, the injured victim waives the right to sue the at-fault driver even if their injuries are catastrophic.
Help after a Philadelphia Car Accident
If you or a loved one was injured in a Philadelphia car accident, it is best to consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer. Jordan Namerow, Esq. always offers free consultations. Call today to schedule. 215.985.0777