Understanding Kentucky's PIP Benefits for Automobile Accidents
If you have ever been injured in an automobile accident in the state of Kentucky, you have probably encountered PIP benefits.
PIP benefits are benefits paid by insurers for injuries sustained in motor vehicle accidents. PIP benefits are available to those injured no matter who was responsible for the wreck. In other words, PIP benefits is “no fault” insurance.
There are other PIP states, but none are quite like Kentucky. The laws governing PIP benefits and accidents in our state are unique and are often complicated to understand. (A Kentucky personal injury attorney can help you understand the nuances of the law and how it applies to you.)
Here, I’ll provide a brief overview of the PIP laws governing Kentucky and, more importantly, how they impact you if you or a loved one is involved in an accident.
PIP Laws and Insurance Explained
The laws governing PIP are contained in the Motor Vehicle Reparations Act. The Act states that anyone who is inured as a result of a motor vehicle accident (or the use or maintenance of a motor vehicle) has a right to PIP benefits under the law.
There are exceptions, though. If the collision is work-related, PIP benefits do not apply. The same is true if the injured person rejected PIP, or if the injured person owns the vehicle but does not have auto insurance. Finally, PIP does not apply if the person is riding a motorcycle yet does not have special PIP coverage. (Motorcyclists must opt into coverage.)
The law also provides benefits for residents of Kentucky who are eligible for PIP and are injured in accidents out of state. For example, if you are eligible and covered in Kentucky, and travel to, say, Ohio and are involved in a collision, you’re covered (unless you fall into one of the four exceptions listed above).
Who pays in the event of an accident? A provision of the law, found here, covers applicability. PIP is provided by the insurer who insures the vehicle that is occupied by the person sustaining the injury. If a vehicle hits a pedestrian or a bicyclist, the vehicle owner’s insurer pays.
Long story short, PIP provides benefits for those injured in accidents, no matter who is at fault.
Tort Liability and Recovering Damages under PIP
In Kentucky, there are provisions that outline how much you can recover in damages as a result of an accident.
You cannot recover the first $10,000 in damages for an accident that is covered by PIP from the other driver. What this means is this: if you were to sue the driver of the vehicle that injured you, you couldn’t recover the first $10,000 in damages, which could come in the form of lost wages or medical bills. This $10,000 will have to be paid by your insurer.
Also, your PIP deductible isn’t covered, and the other driver cannot be forced to reimburse you for that cost.
Note that motorcycle passengers, bicyclists, and pedestrians are not subject to these limits. These individuals can recover the first $10,000 in damages.
Understanding the Medical Threshold
Another important thing to understand about Kentucky’s PIP law is the medical threshold.
This means that the medical expenses incurred by someone injured in an accident has to exceed $1,000. If it doesn’t, you can’t file a claim for personal injury. There are exceptions for injuries such as a fracture, whole or partial permanent disfigurement, permanent loss of bodily function, permanent injury, or death. However, it is hard to imagine such a significant injury would not result in medical expenses greater than $1,000.
This is important to understand. If you bring a case to court, a defendant’s attorneys can claim that your medical bills weren’t all necessary or reasonable. This can reduce your total bills to below the threshold, which will then result in the case being dismissed. Proper documentation of your injuries and treatment can be crucial to keep this from happening. Consult a Kentucky personal injury attorney for more information.
Consult with a Kentucky Personal Injury Attorney
Kentucky’s PIP laws can be confusing to understand. But, they’re important. In 2013, there were over 23,000 car wrecks that resulted in death or injury. You or someone you know could be injured in an accident.
While no one wants this to happen, it does happen. If you or someone you know has been injured, it’s in your best interests to talk to a Kentucky personal injury attorney so you can protect yourself and your rights under the law.