PIP/Personal Injury Protection
Personal Injury Protection, PIP for short, provides certain payments under the individual's personal automobile policy. In Maryland, if you carry PIP on you automobile insurance policy, every occupant will be entitled to payment of your medical bills and a percentage of lost wages up to the amount of the policy limits. Generally most individuals carry the minimum of $2,500, but you can purchase more coverage such as $10,000 for not much more cost. Under the Maryland Insurance laws, every insurance company is required offer PIP insurance and you must actually sign a waiver form provided by the carrier to reject this form of insurance. We at the Law Offices of John P. Zanelotti, P.C., recommend that you not only carry PIP coverage but that you keep your PIP amount at the higher level of $10,000. Medical care is costly and the medical bills could easily exceed the lower level of coverage within a very short period of time.
The reason that PIP is such an excellent benefit in an accident is that each and every driver and passenger in the affected automobile would be entitled to the full amount of the coverage individually. In other words if the coverage amount is $10,000, then every person in the auto would get the $10,000 coverage per person. Another reason is that PIP benefits are paid without regard to fault, so even if you are at fault in an accident PIP still applies. In addition if you are injured in an automobile accident and you are not at fault, you as the driver or passenger are allowed to claim the PIP medical and wage loss benefits and the at fault insurance company would be responsible for the same medical bills and wage loss in any claim or suit against the other driver. In essence the injured victim can claim the medical bills and lost wages from both the PIP policy and from the at fault insurance company as long as they are causally related to the accident.
Keep in mind that the Maryland insurance laws require that PIP claims be made within one (1) year of the accident date and many insurance companies require PIP Application forms to be filled out and signed. PIP covers reasonable and necessary medical expenses up to three (3) years following the accident. An important restriction to PIP coverage in general is that if you are a named insured or listed driver over the age of 16 and covered under your own auto liability policy issued in Maryland and PIP coverage was waived under that policy, then you would not be entitled to PIP coverage under the vehicle in which you are traveling.
We strongly urge you to review your policy with your insurance agent before an accident, and to contact us if you are involved in an accident to review your potential claims under both your auto liability policy and the at fault driver's policy.
(The Maryland Insurance law relating to PIP coverage is found at Annotated Code of Maryland Insurance Sec.19-508).