Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance is a car insurance policy add-on for riders that covers injuries suffered by vehicle occupants in an accident. This insurance coverage is not a requirement in all states. It is only a requirement in states with a no-fault approach to car insurance.
In no-fault states, drivers and vehicle occupants seek compensation for injuries suffered in an accident from their PIP coverage, irrespective of who is at fault. However, they may seek compensation from the other driver if the damages suffered in an accident exceed the limits of their policy.
Damages Covered By PIP Insurance
PIP insurance works largely like insurance in tort or fault states regarding recoverable damages. The only difference is that drivers seek compensation from their insurers.
“Seeking compensation from your insurer doesn’t mean they will readily pay up. So you will still need to hire a lawyer that may help you get fair compensation,” says attorney Rich Godshall of Ostroff Godshall Injury and Accident Lawyers.
If your claim succeeds, you recover economic and non-economic damages through PIP coverage. Economic damages refer to monetary expenses that directly result from the accident. These include medical expenses, cost of living aids such as wheelchairs, walkers, and clutches, and lost wages.
Non-economic damages are the intangible effects of an accident on a person’s life and can include pain and suffering, emotional anguish, stress, depression, and PTSD.
If the at-fault driver’s conduct is deemed willful or a blatant disregard for the safety of others, you may seek punitive damages. However, the standard of proof can be quite high, and most lawyers may not recommend seeking them.
What to Do After an Accident
Like personal injury lawsuits in tort states, what you do after an accident can make a huge difference. First, get medical attention; getting medical attention helps get you out of danger while also providing the documentation necessary for building your case.
If possible, document the accident scene in photos or video footage. You can also gather witness testimonies and contacts and the other driver’s insurance information and contacts. If you cannot do any of these at the scene due to your injuries, your lawyer can help you handle it afterward.
States That Require PIP Insurance
Twelve US states have a mandatory PIP coverage requirement for their drivers. These states include Delaware, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Hawaii, Kansas, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, and Utah.
But Delaware’s approach differs slightly from others in that an accident victim can seek compensation for medical expenses and lost wages from their insurer and sue the at-fault party for pain and suffering. Alternatively, they can seek compensation for all damages from the at-fault party.
While the other eleven states are fully no-fault states, they have different minimum coverage requirements for their drivers, with Michigan having a $250,000 minimum coverage per accident, for example.
States Where PIP Insurance Is Optional
Seven other states, including Arkansas, Maryland, South Dakota, Kentucky, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, allow drivers to opt into PIP, but it is not mandatory. Another thing about PIP insurance coverage is that you do not have to be in a car accident. If you are hit by a car while walking or cycling, you can still recover compensation from your PIP coverage.
Pennsylvania has a mandatory $5,000 personal insurance coverage to cater for medical expenses, but additional coverage is possible.