How Does Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Work in a Car Accident Claim?

How Does Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Work in a Car Accident Claim?If you are a driver in the state of Washington, you may have been asked about adding a specific coverage when purchasing your car insurance. This coverage is called Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Most people have heard about this, but there may be people who have it and do not even realize it. Many drivers opt out of it either because they want to save money or think that it is unnecessary. However, if you ever find yourself involved in a car accident, you may find this add-on service to be beneficial.

What is PIP insurance?

PIP insurance is optional, no-fault coverage that car insurance companies offer. In the event of a crash, PIP pays limited benefits for things like medical expenses, lost wages, and even funeral expenses.

By opting to buy PIP coverage, you will have instant access to money that your insurance company provides to pay for a portion of your expenses after a car accident. This can be beneficial as most people do not have immediate access to funds right after their accidents, meaning that they must wait until their insurance policy begins providing coverage to pay for their expenses.

Another benefit to having PIP insurance is that you do not need to worry about any copays or deductibles when visiting the doctor’s office for medical treatment. Once your PIP covers a specific amount, your medical insurance will agree to cover another amount. Therefore, your out-of-pocket costs will typically be a lot lower than those who do not have PIP.

Is PIP a requirement in Vancouver, WA?

According to Washington’s Code 48.22.085, insurance companies must offer you PIP when discussing your car insurance policy, but you are not required to have it. While we think it is better to be safe than sorry, it is ultimately up to you to decide if you want it or not.

If you decide to reject the PIP add-on, you will need to do so by providing a written statement. If you verbally tell the insurance company that you do not want PIP insurance but you never turn in a written statement, it will automatically be added to your policy.

How to find out if you have PIP insurance

If you are curious to know if you have PIP insurance, you can look at a copy of your car insurance policy. There should be a section that discusses PIP insurance. If you have rejected this add-on, you should also have a copy of your written rejection. If you are unable to find either one, you can simply call your car insurance company and ask them to pull up your files to determine if you have PIP.

How does PIP work in a car accident claim?

If you are injured in a car accident, you can access your PIP – or the PIP of the other driver, even if you are at fault for the accident – to cover a percentage of your damages. Per the Office of the Insurance Commission for Washington State, that coverage works like this:

  • Medical and hospital expenses: Up to $10,000 for reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses for each person injured in an auto accident is covered with PIP. This is available for up to three years from the date of the accident. Additional coverage may be added to provide up to a $35,000 benefit for medical and hospital costs.
  • Funeral expenses: PIP includes up to $2,000 for each person who died due to the accident.
  • Wage loss: PIP provides up to $200 per week ($10,000 total) for income replacement coverage. This is limited to one year after someone’s been disabled for 14 consecutive days after the accident. Consumers may add additional coverage to provide income benefits of up to $35,000, paid at a maximum of $700 per week.
  • Loss of services: PIP coverage pays up to $200 per week ($5,000 total) to pay non-family members for work you can’t do, such as household chores. Additional loss of services coverage can be added to increase the total benefit to $14,600.

Some of the medical costs that PIP may cover include:

  • Doctor office bills
  • Hospital and emergency room bills
  • Ambulance ride
  • Prescriptions
  • Therapy prescribed by your physician
  • Diagnostic tests (X-rays, CT scans, MRI, etc.)
  • Wheelchairs, crutches, home ramps, etc.

You will need to let your insurance company know about the accident and that you are using PIP. It is important that you do not wait to notify the insurance company about the accident, or they could deny your PIP coverage.

As you can see, there are set limits to how much PIP covers. Many victims of car accidents know that it does not take much for medical bills and other expenses to pile up, which is why it is a good idea to speak with an experienced Vancouver, WA car accident attorney.

A quick note about who’s covered by PIP

We want to speak briefly about that “each person injured” bit, because PIP coverage is more expansive than you might think. Per the Commission, the following people are covered by your PIP:

  • Person named on the policy
  • Household residents related by blood, marriage or adoption
  • Step or foster children
  • Any non-family passengers and pedestrians involved in an accident

See that last bit? About non-family passengers and pedestrians? That’s what we referenced earlier when we said you could use someone else’s PIP coverage if you need it. For example, say you’re riding your bicycle and you are hit by a car. You can use the driver’s PIP coverage for your own bills. If the driver who hits you doesn’t have PIP, then your own policy will be billed (if you have an auto policy, that is). Once these avenues are exhausted, then your medical insurance kicks in.

Why you want to talk to one of our injury attorneys in Vancouver or Battle ground, WA

Even if you have PIP to help you with your medical bills, you should still speak with an injury attorney as soon as you can. PIP may cover some of your expenses, but it will not cover everything. For example, if you need to have multiple surgeries or spend several nights in the hospital, you will quickly exceed the amount that PIP covers. Therefore, if you choose to work with a car accident lawyer from Philbrook Law Office, you may be able to seek additional compensation to pay for the rest of your losses.

The car accident attorneys at Philbrook Law Office are experienced and knowledgeable when it comes to the laws surrounding car accidents in Washington. We have helped many clients who have PIP insurance pursue additional compensation by filing car accident claims. While we know and understand that PIP can cover medical expenses, lost income, and funeral costs, we want our clients to be aware of the fact that this insurance add-on only covers a certain extent of these bills. Therefore, if you need to be out of work for several months or years or participate in long-term medical care treatments, PIP will not be enough to get you through these difficult times. Call our office or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation today. We have offices in Battle Ground and Vancouver, WA.