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What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?

What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?

Kentucky’s auto insurance laws are nothing if not complex.  The Bluegrass State has had a no-fault law since 1974.   At the heart of this law is coverage called personal injury protection, or PIP.  Here is what you need to know about PIP coverage, its benefits as well as its limitations, and how PIP could affect an accident claim.

What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in Kentucky?

Kentucky’s PIP law makes it stand out from many other states in one way.  The “no fault” aspect of the law means that some money could be provided for injuries regardless of who is at fault in an accident.

The PIP law in Kentucky is found in the Motor Vehicle Reparations Act (MVRA), located at KRS 304.39.  This law is neither easy to read nor understand, so if you are involved in an auto accident where negligence is in question, it’s always best to consult with a knowledgeable Kentucky personal injury attorney.

What the law provides is that anyone who is injured in an accident has a right to PIP, unless:

  • the injury was work-related
  • the injured person specifically rejected PIP
  • the vehicle involved was uninsured
  • the driver was on a motorcycle with no PIP coverage

Operators of motor vehicles must specifically “reject” PIP coverage if they don’t wish to have it on their insurance.  On the other hand, a motorcycle operator or passenger must “ask” for PIP as a separate coverage if they want it in the state of Kentucky.

How Much and What Does PIP Cover in Kentucky?

PIP is meant to cover medical expenses and lost wages without regard to fault.  The statutory minimum insurance in Kentucky is $10,000, but remember that you are able to reject PIP entirely simply by opting out when you purchase your auto insurance.

Most people in Kentucky have PIP coverage, which is a good thing.  While forgoing the coverage could save a few dollars in premiums, the benefit is immense if you find yourself in a car crash.  In fact, it’s a good idea to purchase much more than the $10,000 minimum since the coverage is inexpensive and you never know what the future holds.  A serious auto accident could leave you or a family member with a catastrophic injury that requires extensive medical care and time away from work.

Interestingly, PIP even covers drivers and passengers outside of Kentucky.  For example, if you have PIP coverage and are involved in an accident in Indiana, you would be covered as either a driver or a passenger.  Also, if you board a passenger bus in Kentucky and are injured out of state, you may still have PIP coverage for any injuries.

What PIP Doesn’t Cover in Kentucky

Unfortunately, PIP has a few drawbacks.  The biggest weakness with PIP coverage is its limitation on weekly wage replacement.  If you are out of work from an injury, the most that you will be able to collect in lost wages is $200.00 per week.  If you earn less than this, the formula is 85% of your gross income.

PIP coverage often becomes tricky when more than one person involved in the accident has available coverage.  Because it’s “no fault” coverage, there may be confusion as to who pays.  The statute does set forth priority in these cases, but there can be conflicts among insurance companies when one or another doesn’t wish to make payment.

The other negative aspect of PIP is the fact that you might still have to struggle to get benefits paid, even though this is supposed to be “no fault” coverage.  When the coverage is provided by private insurance companies, despite being directed by statute, the insurer is going to often do whatever is necessary to avoid paying a legitimate claim.  This is why it’s important to have a knowledgeable Kentucky auto accident attorney involved in your case from the beginning.

How PIP Coverage Might Affect an Auto Accident Claim

When the MVRA and PIP program was enacted in Kentucky, the state placed some limitations on suing for minor auto accidents.  The rationale was that victims of a minor accident shouldn’t have to sue to recover damages.  Because of these limitations, you have to meet some basic qualifications to bring suit in Kentucky:

  • medical expenses exceeding $1,000, OR
  • broken bones,
  • permanent disfigurement,
  • permanent disability,
  • death

This is just one of the reasons why it is so important to seek immediate medical care after an accident to document your injuries.  If you have any questions about PIP coverage or wish to discuss your auto accident, contact Slechter Law Firm at (502) 384-7400 or toll-free at (855) 598-7425 to schedule a free consultation.