Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
Most Maryland automobile insurance policies provide for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. These benefits are crucial in helping to get medical bills and lost wages paid quickly after a collision, particularly because most auto accident settlements take longer to finalize. If you don’t have an insurance policy, you may be entitled to benefits from a family member’s policy, or from other sources. Here’s what you need to know about PIP:General
PIP is no fault insurance, which means that you are entitled to benefits even if the car accident was your fault, or if the driver of your car caused the collision. Your insurance company cannot raise your rates for using your PIP coverage. Most people in Maryland have $2,500.00 in PIP coverage, but some policies have as much as $10,000.00 in PIP benefits and MedPay benefits (Medical Payments coverage, also called MedPay, is a supplement to PIP under most polices). At Posner & Cord we recommend that you get as much PIP coverage as you can–it is only a small increase in your Maryland insurance premiums. You can give up your rights to PIP before an accident, but you must specifically decline coverage in writing.Deadline
There is a deadline of one year from the date of the automobile accident to apply for PIP benefits. Most insurance companies have a specific form, and it is important for you or your attorney to fill the form out completely. But be careful—insurance adjusters may try to trick you by including other forms for your signature, including forms that allow them to obtain your medical records directly from your doctors.Benefits
PIP pays for up to three years of expenses caused by auto accidents for:
- Medical, dental, funeral and nursing services
- Cost of household services
- Up to 85% of lost income
These expenses must be reasonable (that is, they must not be unusually high for the type of expense) and must be related to the accident. If they are not, the insurance company may reduce the amount of payment, or may deny PIP benefits altogether.Are You Entitled to PIP Benefits?
You are likely entitled to PIP when:
- You are injured while riding in a vehicle that is covered by PIP
- You were a pedestrian injured by a car that had PIP coverage
- You live with a family member who has PIP coverage
PIP coverage can be unavailable in the following situations:
- Maryland taxicabs and buses are not legally mandated to provide PIP
- Vehicles owned by the State of Maryland may forgo PIP
- PIP is not available during certain crimes, including when an insured is stealing a vehicle, committing a felony or fleeing from the police
- If the insured formally waives PIP coverage in writing, PIP is unavailable
- There is no PIP coverage for intentional collisions
Even though attorneys are legally allowed to charge a nominal fee for PIP, you should never pay your attorney money to process an ordinary PIP application. For more on these rules, see Maryland Ethics Opinions 92-31, 76-1, and 77-6. PIP is typically very simple—the application must be filled out and submitted, and copies of related medical bills (and sometimes records) must be provided. If an attorney is going to take a contingency fee from your settlement, they don’t need to take money just for filling out some PIP paperwork.
When PIP collection is not routine, attorneys may charge for it. This happens when the insurance company refuses to pay PIP. A PIP denial may happen when the insurance company argues that a PIP waiver was signed, a policy does not provide for PIP, or another insurance company has PIP responsibility, for example.
At Posner & Cord, we will not charge you for processing a routine PIP application.
The Maryland laws on PIP are found in MD. CODE ANN., INSURANCE §§ 19-501, 19-505, 19-506, 19-507, 19-508 and 19-513. Our trial courts and appellate courts have spent much time evaluating and explaining these rules, and your lawyers can help you to navigate those decisions.Need Help?
If you were involved in a Maryland automobile accident or have questions about Personal Injury Protection, call Posner & Cord at (410) 252-0600, or fill out our online contact form.