Who pays for my medical bills after a car accident in Pennsylvania?
One of the things that most people find surprising if they have never been in an auto accident is that the guy who ran the red light may not be responsible for their medical bills. at least not initially Nonetheless, the above statement is true because Pennsylvania, like many of the states, has adopted a no-fault automobile insurance system.
The system mandates that auto insurance policies provide certain mandatory coverage offerings. Those required coverages include:
- Medical coverage;
- Income loss benefits;
- Funeral expenses; and
- Death benefits.
These coverages are required offerings, but it is not required that the insured actually purchase that coverage on his or her policy. Many people have health insurance and disability coverage through their employment, so they minimize or reject any required coverages in an effort to be economical and save costs. In Pennsylvania, it is only required that there be at least $5,000.00 in medical coverage issued under the policy. You can select the amount of coverage you are willing to purchase. Additional policy amounts are typically $10,000.00, $15,000.00, $25,000.00, $50,000.00 or $100,000.00. There is even a separate catastrophic loss coverage that adds $1,000,000.00 in medical benefits. If you have good health insurance, should you purchase more coverage than the required minimum?
How much insurance should I buy?
First of all, the cost of increasing the coverage amount is usually very affordable. I never recommend that a client spend all of their extra money on insurance, however, it is wise to carry more than the minimum coverage. Health insurance plans typically have “subrogation” rights (this is the right to participate in any third-party recovery and it could have very serious ramifications for you). I usually recommend a higher amount if it is within your budget.
Income loss benefits are also extremely important, however, it is not mandatory that an insured pay for same and include them on his or her policy. Many people do not include these benefits because they are unaware of the coverage or because they have disability benefits through their employer.
Frequently, an accident will disable a person and he or she becomes unable to work for an extended period of time. If you don’t have income loss benefits, you will be dependent upon your savings, disability insurance payments or a spouse’s earnings. Thus, it is wise to carry this coverage. The minimum amount is $5,000.00, but it usually can also be obtained for $15,000.00, $25,000.00 or $50,000.00. Additionally, this coverage is some of the most economical coverage available for purchase. You should purchase enough so that you can rely on the coverage to support your household if you are unable to work for an extended period of time.
These coverages are payable by your insurance company regardless of whether an accident is entirely your fault or the fault of another party up. If the accident is the fault of another, you can recover losses in excess of your coverage amounts in a 3rd party action.
Frequently, insureds get into fights with their own insurance company regarding payment of ongoing medical expense or income loss benefits.
If you are told your insurance company is not going to pay for your medical bills and/or your income loss, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible.