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What is Personal Injury Protection

This article was written by Edmond El Dabe, a personal injury attorney in Los Angeles. Personal injury protection, also known as no-fault insurance is an additional coverage you can get to cover medical expenses and lost wages after an automobile accident. The term “no-fault” relates to who is legally responsible for causing the accident.

If you have PIP as part of your insurance policy and get hurt in an accident, you typically can receive the maximum benefit amount even if the accident was your fault.

What Personal Injury Protection Covers

Coverage for PIP can vary among states based on what each state considers reasonable and customary. This insurance is mandatory in at least 13 states and considered an option in others, including California.

Generally, PIP offers vital protection after an accident and can cover:

• Medical expenses such as surgery, medical treatment, ambulatory and nursing services, medication, supplies, prosthetic devices, dental and vision care
• Lost wages if accident-related injuries keep you from performing work-related duties and you do not receive pay for your time off during recovery.
• Substitute services when you are unable to perform certain household tasks because of accident-related injuries
• Funeral expenses if an automobile accident results in death.

Parties Covered by PIP

Actual coverage may vary by insurance company and state requirements, but personal injury protection typically covers:

• You and relatives who live in your household
• Passengers who do not have their own PIP policy
• Drivers authorized to drive your vehicle
• You and family members who are injured while riding in someone else’s vehicle
• In some states where you and your family members are pedestrians and are struck by a vehicle

Setting Limits of Personal Injury Protection

In most cases, the lowest legally required limits may be sufficient for personal injury protection. This is particularly true when you and family members have excellent post-accident benefits with a health insurance policy. Otherwise, you always have the option to increase your PIP limits for the additional protection a PIP can provide for things like lost wages and substitute services.

The decision is based on individual needs and whether you and family members have adequate health insurance. You may also want to consider getting as much as you can comfortably afford in PIP coverage. The financial impact of injuries after an automobile accident can be significant. Even the maximum state required amounts might not be enough.

Most policies provide the following minimum benefits, up to:

• $10,000 for medical expenses considered reasonable and necessary for each injured person in the accident. Coverage lasts up to three years from the accident date.
• $2,000 for funeral costs
• $200 per week, for a maximum of $10,000 to replace lost income for one year after you or a family member becomes disabled for 14 consecutive days following the automobile accident.
• $200 per week, for a maximum of $5,000 to pay for household services that you cannot perform.

These amounts represent the average coverage limits for a PIP policy. Of course, you always have the option to increase your limits.

Personal Injury Protection vs Bodily Injury Liability

Some people believe that buying the state required minimum of bodily injury liability coverage is enough. However, as previously stated, some automobile accidents can lead to catastrophic injuries that exceed standard policy coverage.

In general, bodily injury liability pays for a successful lawsuit that covers damages. This particular coverage only starts after thresholds for state-defined damages have been exceeded. Liability coverage is for damages you cause; PIP is you and your passengers regardless of who causes the damages.

Choosing to bypass no-fault coverage because it is optional in your state could leave you financially vulnerable. Whether you are at-fault or the other person is at-fault but does not have the insurance or money to cover your injuries, you might have to pay out-of-pocket for medical bills and other expenses.

Do You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

It can be difficult to know which expenses are covered after being injured in an automobile accident. Some claims are easily resolved; others might require legal action before you are fairly compensated. An example of this is punitive damages for injuries you sustained that may require a formal lawsuit.

Laws regarding PIP vary and the availability of coverage can affect the outcome of a case. Therefore, you may want to hire a personal injury lawyer for assistance and legal advice. A lawyer can represent you in court to ensure you receive the compensation you need and deserve.


About The Writer

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