The Importance of Having PIP and UIM Coverage
If you are involved in a car accident in Washington State, the at-fault party is responsible for paying for your injuries by law. This sounds like a fair deal, in theory -- unless the at-fault party doesn’t have enough insurance coverage to fully pay for your damages. Unfortunately, as Bellevue personal injury lawyers, we know this happens far too frequently.Minimum Insurance Requirements in WA
Our auto insurance laws require that anyone operating a motor vehicle has some form of liability protection in case of a car accident in Washington. These can be one of the following:
- Minimum liability insurance coverage of $25,000 per injured party, $50,000 for total injuries per incident, and $10,000 to pay for property damages. or
- A minimum deposit of $60,000 with the Department of Licensing to guarantee financial responsibility in case of an accident, or
- A liability bond of at least $60,000
These will cover the other injured parties in the accident, not the driver of the vehicle. If you are a driver and are injured in an accident, you are left to file against the at-fault driver’s insurance policy or absorb the costs yourself.
In the case where you are injured in a car accident in Washington with an at-fault driver, you must prove fault to seek insurance benefits also limited by their coverage to pay for your damages. If the at-fault party is an uninsured or underinsured motorist, your only remedy to collect from them is a lawsuit. This is why having PIP or UIM coverage is important.What is PIP and UIM Coverage?
Both PIP and UIM insurance coverage benefits you after a Bellevue car accident. Although they are similar in that coverage, they are very different in their benefit criteria and how they are administered.PIP Insurance (Personal Injury Protection)
Personal injury protection is a form of no-fault coverage that will pay benefits to you in any Bellevue car accident, regardless of who is at fault. PIP covers “reasonable and necessary” costs after an accident for things like medical costs, lost wages, and other expenses. The insurance company must add it to your policy unless you formally opt out.
If you have been involved in a car accident in Bellevue and you have PIP coverage, it will go into effect immediately after the accident, offering needed help to pay expenses after a collision. Unfortunately, if you have opted out of PIP coverage, these expenses may become your responsibility.UM/UIM Insurance (Uninsured/Underinsured Protection)
This type of coverage offers financial benefits when you have been injured by someone who has no insurance or insufficient insurance to cover your losses. Like PIP, your insurance carrier must offer this coverage, but you can formally opt out of it.
Although both coverages benefit you as the insured driver, there are distinct differences to know about.The Differences Between PIP and UIM Insurance
While both insurances are valuable for anyone involved in a motor vehicle accident in Washington, they come with significant differences in when they kick in and the criteria to qualify for benefits.
- The establishment of fault - While PIP is true no-fault coverage, under the terms of UM/UIM coverage, it must be proven that the other driver was at fault for the accident. You may need the guidance of a Bellevue car accident lawyer to help you prove fault in this case.
- How quickly you can see benefits - PIP insurance is immediately available after an accident, so you can feel free to seek immediate attention without worrying about the cost. You have access to any provider and can even use it to cover legal expenses if you work with a personal injury attorney in Bellevue. Because UM/UIM requires proof of fault, it will not be immediately available to cover your immediate costs.
- Ease of getting benefits - Because of PIP coverage’s no-fault aspect, you are not required to prove that the other driver was at fault. Insurance companies hate to pay claims if they don’t have to. Consequently, getting access to your UM/UIM benefits often puts you in an adversarial position with your own insurance company.
If you have been involved in a car accident in Washington State, the Bellevue car accident lawyers at Northwest Law Group can help by reviewing your policy and getting you the benefits you need for your healing. As your legal advocates, we hold the at-fault driver accountable so you can get the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact Northwest Law Group for a complimentary consultation.