How Personal Injury Protection or PIP Benefits Work in Kentucky

Sam Aguiar Injury Lawyers Personal Injury Protection

As the pain and shock wear off, accident victims are hit by worries about their medical bills. The general perception is that if a motorist shares any responsibility for the accident, he/she is on his own as far as personal treatment costs are concerned. Well, not in Kentucky!

Because this is a no-fault state, if you are injured in an accident in Kentucky, PIP or personal injury protection will offer cushioning against immediate medical expenses. In fact, no-fault coverage is a mandatory component of auto insurance policies in the state, with some exceptions. So, continue reading to know about how personal injury protection or PIP benefits work in Kentucky.

What exactly is personal injury protection?

Also known as no-fault insurance, PIP is the very first form of coverage that kicks in after a person is injured in a motor vehicle accident. It covers medical expenses, lost income and other injury costs, regardless of who is at fault.

The specific goal of this coverage is to offer immediate reprieve from treatment expenses for all injured parties. So, even if you were to go with the minimum mandatory PIP coverage, it would be enough to tackle the financial burden of minor injuries. Plus, it will give you room and time to seek further legal remedies against the insurer of the at-fault driver if your injuries are serious.

How much does Personal Injury Protection pay to cover accident injuries?

In accordance with the Motor Vehicle Reparations Act (MVRA), your auto insurance is bundled with $10,000 PIP coverage. That’s $10,000 maximum compensation per person, per accident and it can be sought for medical costs as well as lost wages.

PIP includes $200 per week reimbursement for lost wages or 85% of your weekly income if your earnings are less than $200. The thing to understand here is that you cannot claim more than the coverage limit of $10,000/person even if the sum of your medical expenses and lost wages is above that amount. In this scenario, you do get the option of suing the insurer of the at-fault motorist but certain restrictions apply.

Who pays PIP benefits?

Unlike standard auto insurance coverage, you don’t always seek compensation under PIP from the insurer of the at-fault motorist. In fact, what company you’ll need to approach will depend on where you were and what you were doing at the time of the accident. For instance:

  • If you were driving a vehicle you own, you will file your PIP claim on the policy that covers the vehicle.
  • If you are driving a vehicle that you don’t own, you can still claim PIP benefits from the policy on the car as long as the vehicle is insured.
  • If you don’t own the vehicle and the policy on it does not have PIP coverage, you can claim no-fault benefits from the auto insurance coverage that you own, even if it is on a different vehicle.
  • Similarly, if you are a passenger in the vehicle, you can claim PIP benefits from the vehicle policy or you can file for no-fault insurance on your own auto insurance if you were travelling in an uninsured car.
  • If you are a pedestrian victim of a car crash, you will be covered by the auto insurance of the vehicle that struck you or by your own policy in case of an uninsured vehicle.
  • A pedestrian who does not own auto insurance and who is struck by an uninsured vehicle can claim PIP benefits from the Kentucky Assigned Claims Plan.

Tort Limitations that come with Personal Injury Protection!

When you opt for PIP, you give up your right to sue the insurer of the at-fault motorist unless certain financial thresholds and conditions are met.

  • You won’t be able to seek compensation outside of PIP coverage unless your medical costs exceed $1,000.
  • The only exception to this rule is if your injuries include broken bones, permanent disfigurement, loss of bodily function, permanent (complete or partial) disability and death.

Undeniably, PIP does a good job of protecting you from the medical costs incurred due to minor injuries, however, there are a few problems with this type of coverage:

  • It barely scratches the surface when it comes to loss of earnings.
  • It does not cover future losses and expenses.
  • It does not provide compensation for pain and suffering, and it takes away your right to sue for pain and suffering unless your injuries fall in the categories listed above.
  • It does not cover property damage.

These tort limitations are what lead people to reject PIP coverage. Yes, that is an option but you will have to submit a written application for this to the Kentucky Department of Insurance. But, this has its own drawbacks. For instance,

  • You can choose to give up PIP for yourself and any or all of your dependent family members. However, you would still have to pay for guest PIP. This is meant to cover non-family passengers.
  • You will pay more for auto coverage because when you give up PIP you get the liberty to sue the at-fault motorist. Also, other victims of the accident get the right to sue you. Under PIP coverage, their rights to sue you would be restricted by the maximum limit of your PIP coverage.

So, does PIP cover everybody by default?

Not really! There are several scenarios in which PIP will not apply to the auto crash victim. For instance:

  • If you are the owner of an uninsured vehicle and sustain injuries while driving it, even if the crash was not your fault, you cannot claim PIP benefits.
  • If the vehicle owner has rejected PIP for certain members of the household, they cannot claim PIP benefits neither in the capacity of an injured driver nor as the injured passenger.
  • If a motorist is involved in a crash while operating a commercial vehicle such as farm tractor, construction site work vehicles, city trolleys, etc.
  • If the accident occurs while operating the vehicle for work-related purposes.
  • If you were operating a motorcycle at the time of the accident, unless you have bought PIP coverage in addition to the standard minimum coverage required for motorcycles.

How much do you pay for PIP coverage in Kentucky?

If you were to buy the bare minimum, legally required coverage in KY, you would pay in the range of $1000 to $1200 per year for it and about $120- $200 of that amount will go towards PIP coverage. The problem is that if you reject PIP, you would still end up paying about $50 for guest PIP.

So, the savings simply do not justify the decision to reject no-fault coverage. If anything, experts strongly recommend that you pay a bit more for extra PIP coverage. It will increase your premium by about $100-$200/year but the benefits and risk-protection that you get will be well worth the extra cost.

How Long Do I Have To File A Claim For PIP Benefits?

You will have to file your PIP claim within 2 years of finding out that you have suffered an injury that was a result of the crash and within a maximum of four years from the time of the accident. However, your compensation will be limited to costs accrued over a period of 2 years before the claim for benefits is filed.

So, if you do wait for 3 years after the accident, you will not be paid for the expenses that you incurred in the first 12 months after the injury.

Will PIP benefits apply if you have an accident outside the state of Kentucky?  

If you are a resident of Kentucky, even if the crash occurs out of state, you will still be covered by the PIP component of your auto insurance.

The fact that you seek PIP benefits from your own insurer creates a false sense of security. Most people assume that since they have paid for this coverage, they should have no trouble when seeking compensation.

But many are left shocked when their own insurance companies end up disputing and sometimes even denying their claim. No-fault insurance rules are complicated. Also, if you have been seriously injured, the monetary reprieve offered by PIP may just not be enough.

Sam Aguiar Injury Lawyers can help you to navigate the treacherous terrain that is PIP compensation.  Our skilled attorneys will ensure that insurance companies don’t get to wiggle out of their commitment. So, contact us today and we will take the pain out of the PIP claim procedure for you.