If you are injured in a car accident in Baltimore County, the general rule under Maryland’s fault system is to seek compensation from the driver whose negligence caused the incident. Officially, you would pursue the insurance company that provides coverage for the responsible motorist. State law requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of insurance, which is $30,000 in bodily injury coverage or $60,000 for two or more people. The problem is that not all motorists comply with these laws, so you could be in a tough position if your injuries were caused by an uninsured motorist. Alternatively, the negligent driver may carry the legal minimum amount of insurance, but that coverage may not be enough to compensate for your injuries.
Fortunately, Maryland’s insurance laws include provisions regarding Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. Some answers to the most common questions about PIP should help you understand how these policies work.
What is PIP Coverage?
PIP is a type of insurance coverage that is required to be included in all policies under Maryland insurance laws, unless you waive the benefits in writing. PIP may be referred to as “no fault” because the person who procures this coverage can obtain compensation regardless of who was responsible for the accident; it also goes by the term “first party” insurance because the insured is the one seeking coverage from his or her own insurance company.
When Should I File a First Party PIP Claim?
As long as you did not waive PIP coverage in writing, it is available any time the other driver’s insurance coverage is insufficient to cover your losses in a car collision. Plus, PIP covers any passengers in your vehicle, family members who live in your household, and people you give permission to use your vehicle.
Therefore, you would likely file a first party PIP claim any time you are involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist. You may also consider filing a PIP claim if the other driver had the legally required coverage, but that amount does not fully compensate you for your losses. A first party underinsured motorist claim may be necessary if you suffered severe trauma because your medical expenses alone may exceed the $30,000 minimum for bodily injuries. It may also be appropriate when several victims suffered injuries that surpass the $60,000 level.
How Much can I Recover Through a PIP Claim?
By law, PIP coverage will pay your medical bills and 85% of lost wages if you were unable to work after a car accident. However, these figures only apply up to your own policy limits. The minimum coverage you obtain when you do not waive PIP is $2,500, though you can pay more to increase that limit. If you do not, the most compensation you can recover is $2,500.
Your own first party PIP coverage is intended to protect you in the event of a car accident, but the process of filing a claim can be complicated. Insurance companies can be just as difficult to deal with as they are with third party claims, so it is smart to have an experienced attorney to assist. For more information on PIP insurance, please contact attorney Michael A. Freedman to schedule an initial consultation.
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