Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Seattle Personal Injury Attorney Chris Thayer
Handling Personal Injury Claims in the Seattle Area and Throughout Washington Since 1995

My name is Chris Thayer and I am a personal injury attorney practicing in downtown Seattle. I handle personal injury, medical malpractice and wrongful death claims throughout the greater Seattle area, including Issaquah, Mercer Island and Kirkland.

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Call for a free consultation (206) 340-2008

The Importance of Auto Insurance’s Personal Injury Protection Coverage

Posted Thursday, September 8, 2016 by Chris Thayer

In the event that you are a party in an automobile collision, your first reaction – after you catch your breath and calm down – is evaluating the damages and considering your car insurance coverage. Whether your injuries are mild or severe, or the collision involved extreme property damage or injury, the accident will likely compel a claim for damages. Personal injury protection (PIP) is a vital and often times, necessary extension of your car insurance.

No-Fault Insurance States

Rather than filing a claim against the other driver’s insurance company, each company compensates their own policyholder – regardless of who holds liability for the collision. States that implement this type of insurance include Florida, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, Minnesota and Massachusetts. This system serves to eliminate injury liability claims and forces the driver to seek compensation for financial losses directly through their own insurance company. With the hope of potentially lowering litigation costs, No-Fault Insurance is designed to prevent those injured in a car accident from making a claim for personal injury damages.

There are, of course, some exceptions to this rule, depending on the jurisdiction in which you reside. For example, in the state of New York, if a plaintiff in a personal injury action arising out of negligence establishes that their economic loss exceeds $50,000 and/or the plaintiff suffered a “serious injury,” the no-fault insurance law will not prohibit them from filing a claim for damages against the other driver. Serious injury is defined as the following:

DeathDismembermentFractureLoss of a fetusPermanent loss of use or a body organ, member, function or systemPermanent consequential limitation of a body organ or memberSignificant limitation of use of a body function or systemMedically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than 90 days during the 180 days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.

Fault-Based Insurance States

In assessing the importance of PIP, it’s critical to understand the distinction between fault and no fault states. Most states have adopted what is referred to as the fault-based system with regard to negligence while operating or using a motor vehicle. In fault-based states, where traditional liability insurance is implemented, the driver who is at fault for the accident is required to pay for any injuries or damages to the other driver. Traditional liability insurances require their drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance on their automobile insurance policies. For example, in Washington, a fault-based state, to fulfill the mandatory insurance law, a driver’s insurance policy is required to have the following minimum qualifications:

25,000 for injuries or death, per person50,000 for injuries or death, per accident10,000 for property damageIn contrast to a no-fault based system, such as New York, to fulfill the mandatory insurance law, a driver must possess all of the above referenced qualifications but the state additionally mandates that you hold a minimum of $50,000 “no-fault” coverage, also noted as PIP – personal injury protection.

What is Personal Injury Protection?

Personal injury protection, an extension to your mandatory automobile insurance, is used as a supplemental coverage on top of your basic liability, sometimes mandated by the jurisdiction and other times voluntarily implemented by the insurer. PIP covers medical expenses, lost wages due to injury, funeral expenses, etc., regardless of who was at fault. An insurer makes a personal injury protection claim against his or her own insurance company for payment of financial losses as a result of the automobile accident.

If It’s Not Required by My State, Do I Need Personal Injury Protection?

A commonly asked question for those residing in both no-fault and fault-based insurance states. The disheartening reality is that car accidents happen more often than not. These accidents sometimes result in severe property damage and great bodily harm.

PIP insurance is mandated in 13 states across the nation, including Florida, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and the District of Columbia. States in which PIP coverage is optional includes, but is not limited to, Washington, West Virginia, California, Arizona, Ohio, Rhode Island and South Carolina.

Personal Injury Protection serves as a safeguard, in the event you are involved in an accident. It does more than to just cover your medical expenses, some of which may not be covered by your health insurance. PIP covers a vast amount of crash-related expenses, including property damage, funeral expenses, rehabilitation costs, medical expenses, lost wages due to an injury, childcare costs, and costs related to household and other collateral damage. For example, if you are severely injured in a car accident and cannot maintain your household chores or duties, PIP may cover the costs associated with hiring someone to do it for you. Furthermore, PIP insurance removes the question of liability and each driver’s insurance policy pays for damages based on the regularity and severity of your car damages, not based solely on your percentage of negligence.

Without personal injury protection, you may take a major financial loss if you are involved and/or injured in an automobile accident. Most importantly, PIP adds extra protection to crash-related expenses and, unlike traditional liability coverage, compensates for lost wages and protects children that may be injured or require additional care. PIP provides an added value to your insurance coverage.

If you were involved in a motor vehicle accident and wish to make a claim against your PIP carrier, or if you do not have PIP, consult a knowledgeable motor vehicle accident attorney with Chris Thayer by calling (206) 900-8209.