Personal injury protection (PIP) insurance is automobile coverage that will pay the cost of lost wages, medical expenses, funeral expenses, and other damages accrued in an automobile accident that are not covered by a person’s regular car insurance policy.
PIP is offered as a means to help injured drivers cover the cost of medical expenses. The best thing about a PIP policy is that fault does not factor into a person’s ability to collect on it. Whether you or the other driver caused the accident, your insurer must pay out if you file a claim under your personal injury protection policy.
If you have a PIP policy, it is important that you understand how it works, when to file a PIP claim, and what type of damages you can collect under PIP coverage.
Personal Injury Protection in Washington
Some states require drivers to carry personal injury protection coverage, but Washington is not one of them. Under RCW 48.22.100, drivers in Washington are not required to obtain PIP coverage. However, auto insurers are required to offer it in addition to a standard auto policy, and if an insured denies the additional coverage, the insurance company must obtain a waiver in writing.
PIP Coverage Limits
Every state’s minimum PIP coverage is different. In Washington, the most common limits are as follows:
- Up to $10,000 for medical expenses for each person injured in a single incident;
- Up to $200 per week for lost wages;
- Up to $2,000 for funeral expenses; and
- Up to $5,000 for loss of services (payment to others for work you cannot do on your own, such as yard work or house cleaning).
Who a PIP Policy Covers
PIP policies work in much the same way as Washington auto insurance policies. In addition to covering the insured individual, a PIP policy also covers household members related by blood, marriage, or adoption, foster and step children, and any non-family passengers or pedestrians involved in the accident.
In essence, it covers all of the same individuals that would be covered under a typical auto insurance policy, except for the driver and passengers of the other vehicle.
Filing a Personal Injury Protection Claim in Washington
Filing a PIP claim is far easier than filing a car accident claim under your standard auto insurance policy. That said, it does come with its limitations. For instance, a PIP policy only covers costs sustained within three years of the incident in which you were injured, regardless of when you file. For this reason, you want to file as soon after the accident as possible, even if you are not sure whether or not the other party’s insurance company will be forced to pay for your damages.
Additionally, you will need to demonstrate that your expenses are related to your injuries from the accident, and that they are reasonable and necessary. Proving the “reasonable and necessary” part may be the most difficult, as it will require a doctor’s note with reasoning for each recommended procedure and treatment.
If you have PIP coverage and want to file a claim under your policy, or if you just want to learn more about personal injury protection insurance and whether or not it is right for you, contact the Yakima personal injury lawyers at Kapuza Lighty, PLLC, today.