If you’re injured in an accident, the most quickly accessible insurance coverage is the Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage from your own insurance policy. This coverage is called No Fault insurance because it applies regardless of who was at fault in the accident, so it’s available whether you caused the accident or you were in an accident caused by another person. In most states, it’s now a required coverage, meaning that it’s usually included in a standard auto policy.
Read more details about PIP in this blog post.
When you notify your agent that you’ve been in an accident and have sustained injuries, your agent should offer to open a PIP claim for you. The coverage normally pays for medical expenses, lost wages, homecare expenses, and funeral expenses and accidental death benefits. However, if you weren’t at fault in the accident and have the flexibility to do so, it’s a good idea to talk to a personal injury lawyer prior to filing a claim on your own insurance.
This is because an accident that results in injuries often leads to a significant payout from the at-fault party’s insurance company—and that company will do its best to mitigate the cost of that loss. That’s especially true when there is a dispute over who is at fault, which can happen even if the police report clearly assigns responsibility. The more benefits the insurance company is likely to have to pay, the more aggressively it may fight the claim.
In addition, PIP only covers certain costs related to injury. It does not cover damages to your vehicle. Those damages are covered either by the “property damage” coverage under the liability portion of the auto policy if the other party is injured, or by the “collision” coverage of your policy if you’re to blame. PIP also doesn’t cover punitive damages, in the event that the accident was caused by negligence. That’s always covered by the liability portion of the auto policy and, if the damage award exceeds that coverage, by an umbrella policy.
An effective personal injury lawyer will know how to deal with the insurance company to maximize your payout, as well as how to structure the claim to collect damages from every applicable line of coverage. In addition, if you find that you were misinformed about your insurance and needed coverage (such as PIP) was not offered to you, a personal injury lawyer will be able to assess your situation to ascertain whether you may have a malpractice claim under the insurance agent’s professional liability coverage.