Understanding PIP (Personal Injury Protection) Insurance
The New Jersey Department of Transportation states that almost 300,000 car accidents happen in New Jersey each year. Many of these accidents involve personal injury or death. Even if you are the safest of drivers, roadways are dangerous places and car accidents are common and unfortunate occurrences. If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury in a car accident due to the negligence of another, contacting an experienced personal injury attorney can help you understand your rights and pursue the compensation you deserve for your losses. Continue reading to learn how PIP insurance plays a role in personal injury cases.
What is PIP Insurance?
Personal Injury Protection, also known as PIP, is a specific type of insurance coverage. The state of New Jersey is just one of a handful of “no-fault” states that require PIP coverage. PIP coverage is also known as “no-fault” insurance, as the Personal Injury Protection insurance will often pay for a driver’s medical and rehabilitation costs as well as lost wages regardless of who caused the accident.
How Personal Injury Protection Works
New Jersey is one of only 13 states that require PIP car insurance. PIP car insurance requires that a driver in the state of New Jersey first file a claim under his or her own personal insurance policy before attempting to obtain financial restitution or compensation from the opposing party in a car accident. Given its ability to provide compensation even if a party is responsible for an accident, PIP plays a valuable part in insurance policies. Payment of PIP compensation occurs regardless of who was responsible for causing a motor vehicle.
The basic concept of PIP is easy to understand. Details concerning PIP coverage, however, can be quite complex. Furthermore, insurance companies are often hesitant to pay out PIP compensation because they want to preserve their bottom line. Therefore, if you suffered injuries in a car accident, and suffered injuries or damage to your property, an experienced attorney will help you understand your rights to compensation.
PIP coverage applies to three types of car injury damages — medical costs, wage loss costs, and funeral costs.
- Medical costs. PIP coverage includes reimbursement for all medically necessary expenses for the diagnosis and any treatment for injuries caused by an auto accident up to the insurance policy limits. These expenses can include ambulance services, diagnostic tests, hospital stays, medication, physician visits, specialist appointments, rehabilitation, and therapy. PIP will also provide reimbursement expenses for medical expenses determined necessary by a medical professional treating specific cases of permanent or significant brain damage, spinal cord injuries, or disfigurement.
- Lost income. PIP provides compensation for lost wages if you are no longer able to work after an auto accident. The exact amount of coverage depends on the policy that you hold. While each policy varies, the amount of compensation starts as low as $100 per week for a $15,000 per year policy up to $5,200 per week. Regardless of your insurance policy, the amount of compensation for lost wages can not exceed your normal salary or income. Additionally, if you are unable to perform essential life tasks due to an injury from an auto accident, PIP will also compensate you. For example, a total of $12 per day provides for lawn mowing, cleaning, and laundry.
- Death benefits. If a person dies due to injuries caused by an accident, PIP coverage will provide compensation to the deceased person’s loved ones if he or she was a provider of income. This coverage includes costs for burials, cremations, and funeral expenses up to a maximum of $1,000. The death benefits go to a surviving spouse, and if there is no spouse, the compensation goes to surviving children, and if there are no children, then it will revert to the victim’s estate.
The minimum amount of PIP coverage in New Jersey is $15,000. However, drivers may purchase coverage up to $250,000. If a person has lower PIP limits and experiences a severe brain or spinal injury, the limits may automatically rise to $250,000. The average monthly cost for PIP coverage varies greatly between drivers and relates to how much coverage they obtain.
PIP Insurance Coverage and Medical Compensation
Most cases involving PIP coverage resolve between the medical professional who provides treatment and the injured party’s insurance company. If an insurance carrier refuses to provide PIP compensation, a medical professional must then initiate a PIP claim on the accident victim’s behalf.
PIP Coverage and Right to Sue
Your PIP car insurance may not cover the totality of expenses incurred from your car accident. You have a legal right to file a personal injury suit against the driver if they were at least partially negligent for the accident. Your insurance policy determines your right to sue. The following describes the most common types of insurance policies.
- Unlimited Right to Sue: A standard policy that allows for an unlimited right to sue allows the policyholder to sue the other driver for noneconomic damages including pain and suffering.
- Limited Right to Sue: A limited or basic policy will not allow the policyholder to sue for any pain and suffering damages unless there were permanent injuries including loss of a body part, loss of a fetus, permanent injury, displaced fracture, significant disfigurement or scarring or death.
PIP Claims and Arbitration
Many insurance disputes lead to arbitration. This is because insurance companies are often hesitant to pay out compensation. If a PIP case proceeds to arbitration, a neutral third party will hear arguments by each side of the PIP claim. The third-party will then make a decision about how to resolve the dispute.
Contact an Accident Attorney Regarding Personal Injury and PIP Insurance
Car accidents are terrifying, and attempting to pursue compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages can be overwhelming. Contacting an experienced personal injury lawyer can help. At Ferrara Law, we have helped a countless number of people successfully navigate the complex issues involved with insurance claims. We also understand just how traumatic insurance accidents can be. We can help you understand your case, determine how best to proceed with insurance companies, and file a lawsuit if necessary. Contact our law office today to schedule a free initial consultation.