What Is Personal Injury Protection (PIP)?
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) is a type of car insurance that covers your own medical treatment if you are in a car accident—regardless of who caused the accident. In no-fault states, PIP coverage is mandatory. However, Illinois is not a no-fault state. Therefore, whether or not you get PIP coverage is completely up to you.
Illinois Fault Laws
But wait, what does it mean to be a fault or no-fault state? It has to do with how financial liability is determined on a car accident, which is determined on a state by state basis.
In the so-called no-fault states, you must turn to your own car insurance for coverage if you are injured in a car accident, even if the other driver caused the accident. You can only bring a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver if your medical costs exceed a certain threshold. The no-fault states are:
- Washington, D.C.
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Dakota
Illinois, on the other hand, is considered a “fault” state. This means that the person who caused the accident (or their insurance company) must compensate the other drivers for any injuries and damages.
What if both drivers shared some fault in the accident? That’s where Illinois’ “tort” system of modified comparative negligence, or comparative fault, comes into play. To understand comparative fault, let’s look at an example.
Imagine that you are in an accident where you are 20% at fault and the other driver is 80% at fault. If your medical expenses are $10,000, you will be able to claim $8,000, or 80% of your damages, from the other driver’s insurance company.
Minimum Illinois Auto Insurance Requirements
Like most states, Illinois has minimum requirements for all car insurance policies. As a driver in Illinois, you must carry liability insurance. This pays for bodily injury and property damage that you cause.
You also must carry uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance. This protects you in the event that you are hit by someone who doesn’t have insurance or if you are the victim of a hit and run accident.
Liability insurance only covers the damage you cause to others. Although it is not required by law, you will probably want to carry comprehensive and collision insurance to protect yourself in the event that your own car is damaged.
Illinois PIP Pros & Cons
PIP is also optional coverage in Illinois. PIP insurance will help pay for your injuries and lost wages due to a car accident, even if the accident is your own fault. It may even reimburse you for injuries that your health insurance won’t cover. If you do have PIP coverage, it will likely be the first place that you turn if you have been hurt in an accident.
However, PIP coverage comes with limits. The coverage limit can range anywhere from $1,500 up to $250,000. If your medical expenses and lost wages exceed your PIP limit, you will have to make a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver to recover the additional damages.
Another limitation of PIP insurance is that it will not cover pain and suffering or damage to your car.
How PIP Claims Work
You may start filing PIP claims with your insurance company as soon as you start to get medical bills. You don’t have to wait until your treatment is complete. Before they process your claim, your insurance company may make you to undergo an examination by a doctor that they choose.
Once you reach your personal injury protection limit, you can then turn to your health insurance to continue paying for your medical care. Keep in mind that if you recover damages from the other driver in a personal injury claim, you will have to repay both your health insurance provider and your PIP insurance provider.
Get Help From an Illinois Personal Injury Lawyer
At Schierer & Ritchie, our skilled personal injury attorneys will help you submit your claims and fight to get you the compensation that you are entitled to, whether it means negotiating with an insurance company or representing you in court. Please contact our Peoria offices today for a free consultation.