The Importance of Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in Washington State

Auto accidents can happen to anyone at any time. Unfortunately, even the most attentive and cautious drivers may find themselves involved in a collision with another car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian at some point. Car accidents occur often and for a variety of reasons—while many of us assume motor vehicle accidents happen because of intoxicated or distracted drivers, the reality is that anyone can wind up injured in an automobile accident for any number of reasons. According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2,497,657 people in the United States were injured in traffic collisions in 2021. This statistic includes vehicle occupants (drivers and passengers), pedestrians, motorcyclists, and bicyclists who sustained some sort of injury in a traffic accident.

Car accident injuries can disrupt your life considerably, especially if you’re facing a lengthy physical recovery. As you cope with the medical and emotional aspects stemming from the traffic accident, you may also become overwhelmed by the expensive hospital bills, lost wages, and other unanticipated costs arising from the incident. If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident in King County, you may be entitled to recover compensation to assist you with the costs of your recovery. Enlisting the guidance of an experienced and knowledgeable Seattle personal injury lawyer is the best way to understand your options for securing the compensation you need to start getting your life back on track after the accident. This post will focus specifically on how adding personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to your existing auto insurance policy may be beneficial in the event of an auto accident in Washington State.

Understanding PIP Coverage in Washington State

PIP coverage is an optional add-on to a driver’s auto insurance policy. While some states require all drivers to carry PIP coverage, Washington State does not. Instead, the state merely requires auto insurance companies to offer PIP coverage—it’s up to the policyholder to decide whether or not to add PIP coverage to their insurance policy. It’s important to recognize that if you do not want PIP coverage, you must reject the offer in writing and notify the insurance company of your decision. Otherwise, the auto insurer will add it to your policy (and you will be charged for this additional coverage).

In the event of an auto accident, PIP coverage can help to cover medical expenses, hospital bills, lost wages, and even funeral expenses. Essentially, PIP coverage is intended to help injured drivers cover the costs of the medical expenses associated with a traffic accident. PIP policies do not use fault determinations; even if you were partially responsible for the collision, you should still be able to file a claim under your personal injury protection policy and obtain these benefits.

What Costs Does PIP Cover?

If you file a PIP claim with your insurance company after an auto accident, you should be able to receive financial benefits to assist you with several of the accident-related costs. However, it’s important to recognize the PIP policy limits for basic coverage in Washington. In general, you can expect your PIP policy to provide the following benefits in the event of sustaining an accident-related injury.

Medical and Hospital Expenses

Standard PIP policies will cover up to $10,000 for reasonable and necessary medical and hospital expenses for each individual injured in an auto accident. The PIP policyholder has up to three years from the date of the accident in which to file a claim with their auto insurance company to obtain these benefits. However, a policyholder may request additional coverage that covers up to $35,000 in PIP benefits for medical and hospital costs.PIP policies are very helpful if you do not have health insurance or it is minimal. It can help you cover costs while you get better.

Wage Loss

Many auto accident injuries are severe enough to prevent victims from attending work for several days, weeks, or even months. Losing out on a steady paycheck after a car accident can be worrisome for many people and their families. A basic PIP policy can provide up to $200 per week (and up to $10,000 total) for income replacement coverage for individuals who suffer injuries in traffic accidents. However, it’s important to note that this coverage is limited to one year after the injured party has been unable to work for at least 14 consecutive days after the incident. You also have the option to add additional PIP wage loss benefits that provide income benefits of up to $35,000 (paid at a maximum of $700 per week).

Loss of Services

If your accident-related injuries prevent you from completing daily tasks like household chores or picking your children up from school, your PIP coverage can pay non-family members up to $200 per week ($5,000 maximum) to help you complete these chores. For an additional cost, policyholders may elect to increase these PIP benefits to a total of $14,600.

Funeral Expenses

Sometimes, a traffic accident will involve the death of a vehicle occupant. PIP coverage includes up to $2,000 for each individual who passed away because of the collision.

Accident-Related Costs Not Covered By PIP Insurance

While PIP coverage can help injured policyholders ease the financial burden of the accident, there are several accident-related expenses that PIP does not cover. A PIP policy does not cover injuries sustained while using farm equipment, recreational or off-road vehicles, mopeds, or motorcycles (although motorcyclists may be able to add PIP coverage to an existing motorcycle insurance policy). Moreover, PIP does not cover intentional injuries caused by the policyholder, injuries sustained in organized racing activities, or policyholders who become injured while committing a felony offense. Ultimately, the auto insurance company must determine that the services for which you are requesting coverage are reasonable, necessary, related to the accident, and timely (occurring within three years of the accident).

The Benefits of PIP Coverage in Washington State

Although you are not legally required to carry PIP coverage in Washington, doing so can prove advantageous in many ways. The primary benefit is that a policyholder is able to receive compensation quickly after the accident without having to move through litigation before accessing the benefits. Since fault is irrelevant to PIP compensation, even partially at-fault drivers can still receive PIP benefits. Whether you are weighing the potential benefits of adding PIP coverage to your auto insurance policy or you need help filing a claim to obtain these benefits, consider working with a dedicated and experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer to help you achieve your goals. PIP benefits are a small part of the injury accident piece.

Auto accidents can happen to anyone at any time. If you suffered an injury in a car accident and need help collecting compensation to support the costs of your physical and emotional recovery, the dedicated legal team at Scott & Scott, PLLC, is here to assist you. Call our office today at (206) 622-2200 to discuss your options with an experienced Seattle personal injury lawyer.

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