If you or someone you know is injured in a motor vehicle accident in Pennsylvania, while a vehicle occupant or a
pedestrian or on a
bicycle, your medical bills must be paid by automobile Insurance, not health insurance. After the applicable automobile insurance policy's medical benefits have been exhausted, then your health insurance will pay any excess medical bills that are still outstanding. In addition, to the surprise of many, the automobile insurance policy that is responsible to pay your medical benefits has nothing to do with which driver negligently caused the motor vehicle accident. For an in depth discussion regarding which automobile insurance policy is responsible to pay your medical benefits arising out of a motor vehicle accident, see our prior blog entry
"Who Pays your Medical Bills when you are Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident".
Regardless of which automobile insurance policy is responsible to pay your medical benefits, the time limit to seek payment of your medical benefits from the automobile insurance company is the same. Pursuant to 75 Pa.C.S. § 1721 you have four years (Statute of Limitations) from the date of the motor vehicle accident to file suit against the appropriate automobile insurance carrier for payment of your medical benefits. Thereafter, your claim for payment of medical benefits expires. However, if the automobile insurance carrier has already paid any of your medical benefits, then you have four years from the date of the last payment of your medical benefits by the automobile insurance carrier to file suit for payment of your unpaid medical benefits
If you either are not eligible to recover Medical Benefits under the above automobile insurance policies or if you have recovered Medical Benefits and have exhausted the Medical Benefits on the applicable policy and you don't have health insurance to pay your remaining unpaid medical bills, then under either situation you will still be able to seek your "excess medical claim" against the liability coverage of the automobile insurance policy that insures the negligent driver that caused the motor vehicle accident. Here, you must prove negligence to recover your excess medical claim (as well as your claims for bodily injuries and excess lost wages). Pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524 (2), the Statute of Limitations in Pennsylvania for an injured adult individual to file suit for a Negligence claim is two years from the date of the negligent act.
Thus, if you are an adult on the date of the motor vehicle accident, you must file suit against all potentially negligent parties within 2 years of the date of the accident, thereafter your excess medical claim (as well as your bodily injury and excess lost wage claims) expires. All persons under the age of 18 at the time of the motor vehicle accident are considered minors. If you are a minor at the time of the motor vehicle accident, the two year statute does not start to run until your 18th birthday. So a minor has until his or her 20th birthday to commence a negligence action against all potentially negligent parties to obtain compensation for his or her excess medical claim (as well as bodily injury and excess lost wage claims) arising out of the motor vehicle accident. However, for purposes of preserving evidence and witnesses, it is not recommended that a minor wait any longer than necessary to file suit.
A knowledgeable personal injury attorney will assist you in making sure that your medical bills are paid by the correct automobile insurance policy at no cost to you and will review your case to determine whether you have a viable claim for compensation for your personal injuries, lost wages and excess medical bills against a negligent driver's automobile insurance liability policy after analyzing your case with respect to Pennsylvania's Full Tort/ Limited Tort law.