Navigating insurance policies after a car crash and figuring out who will compensate you for your injuries is a daunting task. It gets even more complicated when you realize that there are different subsets of insurance and routes you can take to pay your medical bills.
One mechanism you may be able to use to pay your bills is personal injury protection, or PIP, insurance. It’s sometimes referred to as “no-fault” insurance, and it deals with injuries sustained during a car crash. It’s not a mandatory form of insurance in Texas, which means it may be a new concept to some people. If you have questions about PIP, our Dallas car accident attorneys have answers.
In this article, we’ll explain what PIP is, how PIP claims work, and when it might make sense to use this form of compensation. Let’s dive in.
What Is PIP and How Is It Different From Other Forms of Insurance?
Personal Injury Protection insurance, or “PIP,” falls under the wider umbrella of auto insurance. It covers some medical expenses—and possible extended coverage like lost wages and funeral expenses—for you and your passengers after a car wreck.
Unlike standard health insurance, PIP is designed specifically for car accidents. It’s meant to cover expenses that regular health insurance may not. Or, it can be used if you don’t have health insurance and need help covering some of your medical bills after a car wreck.
PIP is also different from the bodily injury liability insurance that’s included in most car insurance policies. PIP covers you and any other passengers in your vehicle, while bodily injury liability insurance covers occupants of other vehicles if you are at fault in a collision.
How Does It Work?
PIP, is also known as “no-fault insurance,” and just like the name implies, it will cover your expenses (for as much as the plan allows) regardless of who caused the crash. This typically makes the claim process quicker than with other kinds of car insurance claims. For instance, when you file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, they’ll often find ways to delay a payout, minimize the fault of their policyholder, or deny your claim altogether. But because fault is not an issue with a PIP claim, you can generally expect to get paid almost immediately without waiting through a long lawsuit or claims process. With PIP, all you need to do is file a properly documented claim with your own insurer to receive funds.
In Texas, increments of $2,500, $5,000 and $10,000 in PIP coverage are commonly offered, but this may not be enough to cover your bills if you’re suffering from severe or lifelong injuries. If the financial impact of your car accident injuries exceeds the limit of your PIP coverage, you can file a third-party car insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company, or pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.
If your bills are too significant to rely on PIP coverage, it might make financial sense to get a Dallas car accident attorney’s help with your personal injury case. Read this article to learn more about when you should consult a car accident attorney.
What Does Personal Injury Protection Insurance Cover?
The great thing about PIP is that it not only covers the policyholder, but also covers passengers in their vehicle, their family members within the same household, and other people driving the policyholder’s vehicle with permission. If you are a pedestrian or a cyclist struck by a vehicle, or if you’re riding in somebody else’s vehicle and are in a crash, your PIP insurance may also cover you too.
The specific expenses covered by PIP will vary from plan to plan, but generally, PIP covers any necessary medical procedures and associated reasonable expenses relating to injuries sustained during a collision. Covered expenses may include:
- Ambulance charges
- Hospitalization costs
- Necessary medical procedures, including surgeries and operations
- Physical therapy or rehabilitation
- Ongoing care
- Lost wages, if you are forced to stop working for a time
- Death benefits and/or funeral costs
- Expenses for duties you may be unable to fulfill, such as house cleaning and child care
What Does PIP Not Cover?
PIP isn’t a sweeping type of coverage. As the name suggests, personal injury protection insurance is designed to only cover expenses relating to injuries suffered in a car crash. In most cases, personal injury protection or no-fault insurance coverage does not include:
- Property damage
- Deliberate or criminal acts
- Other parties’ medical expenses
- Non-economic damages, like pain and suffering or mental anguish
For vehicle damage expenses, you’d need to file a claim through the insurance company of the driver who’s at fault.
Is PIP Required In Texas?
Texas law does not require PIP insurance to drive in Texas. Although you do not have to buy PIP insurance, Texas law requires your auto insurer to offer at least $2,500 of PIP insurance when you buy a new policy.
To opt-out of PIP coverage, you have to reject it in writing. If you do nothing, PIP coverage is automatically added to the policy. So, there’s a good chance you have this policy unless you’ve taken the steps to write an opt-out letter.
While PIP is not required, it’s a good idea to keep this coverage on your policy. It’s very inexpensive and is a great mechanism to get your medical expenses paid quickly while you’re waiting for a settlement from the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Do You Need a Lawyer's Help to Make a PIP Claim?
No, you probably don’t need an attorney to collect PIP coverage. You may, however, want to consider consulting with a Dallas car accident attorney if your injuries are severe and your expenses far exceed your PIP coverage limits.
While this doesn’t always happen, we also find that sometimes insurance carriers are obstructive and try to reduce their offer based on whether or not you applied PIP to your expenses. In this situation, it’s also advisable to get help from a Dallas car accident attorney to ensure you receive as much compensation as possible.
Getting Help From Dallas Car Accident Attorneys After a Wreck
If a doctor has diagnosed you with minor injuries and it looks like your PIP coverage will be enough to cover your losses after a car accident, then you might not need the help of a lawyer. But if your injuries are serious and the other driver was pretty clearly at fault, a PIP claim might not offer enough compensation to cover your expenses and you’ll have to go toe-to-toe with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
Our Dallas car accident attorneys have years of experience navigating the insurance system and fighting for the compensation victims deserve. We understand the language and provisions in auto insurance policies, know how to deal with insurance companies, and can help you find ways to pay your medical bills if you need financial assistance. If you’re ready to discuss your options, contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation today.