Most states require that those operating motor vehicles carry a minimum level of automobile insurance coverage. The amount of liability coverage required varies from state to state. In addition to this minimum coverage, some states require you to have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. Also referred to as no-fault insurance, this PIP insurance pays a specified amount of your damages after you have been in a car accident regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Currently, the District of Columbia, Pennsylvania, Utah, Hawaii, New Jersey, Kansas, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Dakota, and Minnesota all require some amount of PIP insurance coverage. Maryland does not require its citizens to purchase personal injury protection insurance.
When filing a PIP claim, you file the claim with your own insurance company, which then pays the claim up to the policy limits. The amount of coverage available under PIP insurance may be very limited in some states. In those states if your damages exceed the policy limits then it is your responsibility to pay the remaining amount of medical bills. In contrast, some states have much high policy limits and may cover most or all expenses. For example, in Michigan there is no cap for medical expenses.
In addition to medical expenses, PIP insurance also covers a percentage of lost wages from being out of work due to the accident, and funeral expenses.
Limitations on Personal Injury Lawsuits
In states with no-fault insurance your ability to file a lawsuit for personal injury can be limited. In cases where there is a minimal amount of damages your only remedy may be PIP insurance. Most of the PIP Insurance laws have specific requirements that a potential plaintiff must meet before he or she will be allowed to move forward with a court case. These requirements vary from state to state.
For example, in Kansas in order to file a case in court you must have exhausted your PIP insurance and have a serious injury such as a permanent disfigurement or fractured bone.
The District of Columbia takes a different approach. In the District you have 60 days from the accident to elect to either receive PIP benefits or bring a civil suit against the other driver. You can still receive PIP benefits and maintain a lawsuit if there is: "substantial permanent scarring or disfigurement; substantial and medically demonstrable permanent impairment which has significantly affect the ability of the victim to perform his or her professional activities or usual and customary daily activities; a medically demonstrable impairment that prevents the victim from performing all or substantially all of the material acts and duties that constitute his or her usual and customary daily activities for more than 180 continuous days"; or "the medical and rehabilitation expenses of a victim or work loss of a victim exceeds the amount of personal injury protection benefits available." If you meet one of these requirements then you may file a lawsuit to recover compensation from the party responsible for the accident in a court of law.
Because no-fault laws can be complicated or have specific requirements in order to bring a claim, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case. At Gilman & Bedigian we have years of experience dealing with the complex insurance laws in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.. If you or a loved one has been injured in an auto accident, please do not hesitate to contact our office today for a free phone consultation.