One of the most common questions accident victims have about their automobile insurance is what to do after their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is exhausted. Losing your PIP coverage can be an especially stressful experience, like having the rug pulled out from under you. It’s hard enough worrying about recovering from your injuries without the added stress over how, or even if, your medical bills will be paid.
Luckily, there are options to ensure you can continue your treatment plan and return to full health even after you’ve exceeded the limits of your PIP coverage. The best advice is to prepare for when your PIP is exhausted and try to have a plan in place with your care providers for when this time does indeed arrive.
Washington PIP Coverage
A total of 15 states require PIP coverage for all active drivers. Unfortunately, Washington is not one of these states. Washington does, however, require drivers to waive PIP coverage upon purchasing an insurance policy, so the chances you may already have PIP are pretty good.
According to Washington State law PIP provides up to $10,000 for medical expenses, up to $2,000 for funeral expenses, and up to $200 a week ($10,000 max) for income replacement. PIP also begins to run out after a year no matter how much of it is used. An Independent Medical Exam (IME) is performed and benefits begin to be cut, so keep this time limit in mind as you go forward.
Preparation for When PIP Is Exhausted
The first thing you can do to prepare for the day your PIP runs out is to keep track of everything that has been paid out by your PIP coverage. Too often, car accident victims are stunned when they receive an enormous bill in the mail that they’re expected to pay. Since you can bet your insurance company is surely keeping track it would benefit you to know exactly what’s been charged so there are no unfortunate surprises months down the road.
Secondly, check with your personal health insurance to see what benefits your policy actually affords. You may be able to continue your current treatment plan by using your health insurance. If your insurance gives you the green light, simply notify your providers that you intend to use your health insurance going forward.
After your personal injury claim has been settled with the at-fault driver’s insurance, your health insurance will insist on being reimbursed through subrogation. This is why it’s important to not use your personal health insurance until your PIP has been fully exhausted. Remember that PIP exists for just such emergencies as a car accident and as such, it should be used until it has been completely depleted.
Last but not least, hire an experienced personal injury (PI) lawyer. PI lawyers know the ins and outs of insurance policies and the relevant law better than anyone out there and will fight to recover every dollar of damages possible for you. They know firsthand the shrewd tactics insurance companies employ to keep settlement payments as low as possible, and they know how best to negotiate with stingy adjusters.
A skilled personal injury attorney can help minimize any out-of-pocket expenses by ensuring you get the most from the coverage already available and the at-fault party’s insurance company is held accountable for the maximum reimbursement you’re entitled to for your injuries.
Call The Advocates for a Free Consultation
Automobile accidents are frustrating experiences and it’s tempting to just throw your hands in the air and give up. But if you don’t fight to ensure the person responsible, along with their insurance company, pays for the damage they’ve caused your life, then you could very well be saddled with a mountain of debt and medical bills. It’s not uncommon for car accident victims to find themselves facing bankruptcy. Don’t let this happen to you.
Whether or not you decide to retain an attorney is up to you. However, by calling for a free consultation you’ll be able to make an informed decision and guarantee you’re doing everything you can to get full compensation for any medical treatments and injuries. One conversation now can help avoid unwanted surprises later.
Call The Advocates today for a free case evaluation.