"Personal Injury Protection" (PIP) coverage is a component of automobile insurance coverage that is available in a number of states. While protection details and coverage amounts differ from state to state, the basic concept behind PIP coverage is that after a car accident, regardless of fault, an injured person's own insurance company will cover expenses and losses such as:
- medical and rehabilitation expenses
- lost wages, and
- replacement services needed to assist the injured person in the conduct of his/her daily activities, such as preparing meals, house cleaning, bathing and dressing.
If you have heard the term "no-fault coverage," it's often used to refer to the PIP component of automobile insurance policies. It's important to note that PIP coverage is separate from liability insurance coverage, which kicks in when you cause a car accident, and covers the other driver's (or a passenger's) losses including medical bills and non-economic damages such as "pain and suffering."
PIP Benefits Vary From State to State
As noted, PIP coverages and coverage amounts depend on a particular state's laws. In Michigan, for example, PIP coverage is unlimited for medical expenses and provides lifetime benefits; it also provides reimbursement for lost wages up to a specified monthly cap amount and replacement services up to a specified daily cap amount for three years. The types and amounts of PIP coverage available to you will depend on the law of the state where you reside.
In some states, you must exhaust your other available insurance benefits, such as your employer-sponsored health insurance, workers' compensation insurance and disability insurance, before your PIP coverage will kick in. In other states, PIP coverage is the insurance of first resort for all covered expenses and losses up to applicable cap amounts.
Another aspect of PIP coverage concerns situations where people are injured in an automobile accident while they are not driving their own vehicle. For example, when you are a pedestrian and are struck by a car, or when you are injured as a passenger in someone else's car, the issue is whether you must first look to your own PIP coverage or whether you can make a claim for PIP benefits under the insurance policy of the driver of the vehicle(s) involved in the accident. This issue will typically be resolved by looking to the "priority" provisions of your state's law, and to the scope of coverage provisions of your own automobile insurance policy.
Making a Claim for PIP Benefits
It's important to understand that your entitlement to receive PIP benefits is a matter of both state law and the contractual terms of the applicable insurance policies.
So, when you are injured in an automobile accident, you need to promptly review the provisions of the applicable policies to see what they say about the filing requirements for PIP benefits. If you have any questions or concerns about these requirements, you should contact your insurance company for a full explanation, and request copies of all benefit forms, some of which will likely have to be completed by your health care providers and your employer. And, if you are unable to deal with these requirements on your own, you might consider seeking the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer, in order to maximize the benefits to which you are entitled and make sure your rights are protected at every stage of the claim process.
Learn more about how insurance affects a car accident case.