Personal injury protection (PIP) is insurance that comes from the car you are in when you are hurt. It is sometimes referred to as no fault, and if you have PIP coverage it will provide benefits regardless of whether you caused the accident, or the accident was caused by someone else. It is also quick--in most cases, you can start to recover money from a PIP policy within 30 days after you submit the documents to the insurance company. Those documents might include an application, lost wage statements from your supervisor, medical records and medical bills.
How do I know if I have PIP?
In most cases, if you are driving your own car, and you have insurance coverage, your insurance company will provide you with PIP benefits.
Of course, some people, in an effort to keep their insurance premiums low, will waive PIP benefits. To do this, they must sign very specific language. If they do, then their insurance company will not pay PIP benefits for anyone injured in or by that car, unless the injured person is 16 or under. We usually recommend against this--the slight increase in premiums is worth the benefits.
Now, if you are riding in a bus or taxi, the bus or taxi likely will not have PIP coverage--under Maryland law, they are not required to carry it. You may still be able to recover under your individual automobile PIP policy, however. Insurance companies can also decline to provide PIP for motorcycle riders. It's a silly rule, and probably based on the assumption that motorcycle riders are more dangerous, but it is the rule.
If you are riding in another person's car, you may collect PIP benefits from their insurer. There is one condition--you cannot have waived PIP insurance on your own policy. If you did, then they are entitled to deny providing PIP benefits to you.
Pedestrians are an interesting case--they can often collect PIP from the insurance company for the vehicle that hit them.
How much PIP am I Entitled to?
In Maryland, the default amount of PIP is $2,500, which is usually used to pay for medical expenses and lost wages. However, many insurers will permit you (for a very slight increase in premiums) to recover up to $10,000 in PIP benefits. It's worth it--we encourage you to get as much PIP as you can afford. The odds are, sometime in your life you will get into a car accident, and having a high amount of PIP will likely more than pay for the increased premiums. Click here for an explanation of why you should pay more to get more.
How does PIP Affect the Settlement Value of my Case
In a sense, PIP doesn't change the value of your case. Because of the rule on collateral source (which states that evidence of payments made by other insurance companies is not admissible), insurance adjusters, judges and juries aren't supposed to consider it. Given two identical cases, one with PIP and one without, they should both settle for the exact same amount.
However, having PIP will increase the amount of money that you will take home (after payment of all attorneys' fees, case expenses, and medical expenses), so it will increase your bottom line.