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Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Coverage in Washington State

Colburn Law

If you suffer injuries in a car accident in Washington state, you may have to pay for expensive medical bills, lose out on weeks of wages, and suffer a variety of other damages from pain and suffering to vehicle damage. You have multiple options to recover compensation for your losses after a car accident, including personal injury protection, or PIP, coverage.

How Does PIP Work in Washington state?

PIP coverage is an option you can add to your car insurance policy, in addition to the basic insurance requirements that Washington sets forth. While the state does not require drivers to carry PIP coverage, all insurance companies must offer you at least $10,000 of it when you apply. You have to submit a denial of coverage to the state to reject your PIP coverage.

Depending on your policy, you can receive PIP benefits after a car accident up to certain limits. PIP can cover everything from medical bills related to your accident to lost wages when you’re recovering from your injuries. You have to file for PIP benefits within three years of the accident to receive them.

See more: Washington State Law RCW 48.22.100 

Washington’s Comparative Fault System

The state of Washington follows a traditional fault-based system when determining how victims of a car accident receive compensation. Under this system, if you suffer injuries in a car accident, the at-fault driver is responsible for paying for your medical bills, lost wages, vehicle damage, and other damages.

You have three main options for claiming compensation after a car accident.

  • You can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
  • You can file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver in civil court.
  • You can file a claim with your own insurance company, as long as you have insurance coverage. You can receive your compensation through a combination of different coverage types, including PIP coverage.

Do I Need PIP If I Already Have Health Insurance?

Even if you have good health insurance, it is still suggested that you have PIP coverage. PIP coverage is a valuable policy option to have in Washington, because you can receive this coverage no matter who was at-fault for the accident. For example, if you ran a red light and crashed into another vehicle, you are likely liable for compensating the other driver’s damages through your regular insurance policy – but you probably suffered significant damage as well. You can receive compensation for your medical expenses and more under your PIP coverage.

Do I Need PIP Coverage?

PIP coverage provides compensation to you as the policyholder, any people in your household, your step or foster children, and any non-family passengers or pedestrians who are involved in your car accident. PIP coverage usually includes the following benefit amounts, and you have the option to add additional coverage if needed.

  • Funeral expenses up to $2,000 per person who dies in a car accident.
  • Lost wages up to $200 per week or $10,000 total up to one year after disability following an accident.
  • Medical expenses up to $10,000 per person, up to three years from the date of the accident.
  • Loss of household services up to $200 per week or $5,000 total. This benefit pays non-family members to perform chores and other work your injuries may prevent you from doing.

While PIP coverage does help compensate you for your basic needs and losses following a car accident, it is not comprehensive. PIP does not cover any injuries you may cause intentionally. In addition, you cannot receive PIP coverage if you suffer an injury during organized racing activities or while committing a felony. For the most part, you cannot use PIP coverage for injuries caused by farm equipment, mopeds, or recreational vehicles. You can purchase additional PIP coverage for motorcycles.

In addition, your insurance company may deny your PIP coverage if they determine your needs are not reasonable, necessary, or related to the accident. However, you could appeal these decisions with the help of a car accident attorney. If you need assistance with your PIP claim, contact an experienced and local attorney as soon as possible following your accident.