How Does Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Work in Salt Lake County?
Driving a car is one of the most dangerous things that most people do every day, or even in their entire lives. Using a piece of machinery that weighs more than a ton to propel us down the street at high speeds is dangerous. While you might be the safest driver in the world, you are still likely to be involved in at least one car accident in your life.
If your crash happens in Salt Lake County, you might come across the phrase “Personal Injury Protection” or “PIP”. This is sometimes called a “no-fault” insurance system, and you may be wondering what that means. If you or a loved one has been involved in a car accident and need to use Utah’s PIP system, this article may help answer some questions for you.
What is No Fault PIP in Utah?
Whenever you are involved in a car accident, one of the first things you do is exchange insurance information with the other driver. What most people assume is that the other driver’s insurance pays for everything if it was the other driver’s fault. In some states, that would be correct, but Utah has a special law on the matter.
Instead of filing all of your claims with the other driver’s insurance company, in Utah, you first file a claim with your own insurance company. It does not matter who is at fault in your car crash – the first bit of money paid comes from your own insurance company. This is why this is often called a “no fault” system.
The Utah Code § 31A-22-307 says that even the minimum required auto insurance coverage in Utah must include at least $3,000 of coverage to take care of the driver. That means, for your plan to meet the minimum requirements for car insurance in Utah, your plan must have at least $3,000 to pay for your own injuries, in the event of a collision.
This $3,000 is intended to be enough, in most cases, to cover:
- Medical and surgical treatment,
- Dental work,
- Hospital stay,
- And nursing services.
Depending on your injuries and the medical care you need, $3,000 might only be a drop in the bucket. For anything beyond that $3,000, you can make a claim against the other driver’s insurance like you would expect, or you can carry insurance that will pay more than $3,000 for PIP coverage.
This $3,000 PIP coverage can be used to cover you, if you were driving or in the car, or others injured in your car. It can cover your family members using your car, or any occupants you allow in your car. That means if you let a friend borrow your car, and he is involved in a crash, your PIP should cover his injuries. PIP also, importantly, covers pedestrians. That means that if you are hit by someone else’s car, their PIP can also cover your injuries. While the pedestrian coverage only kicks in if the accident is in the State of Utah, your PIP coverage can cover you in any crash in your car, no matter where the collision occurs.
Does Utah’s PIP Mean I Can’t Get More Than $3,000?
That $3,000 may not seem like a lot when facing huge medical bills, but there are certainly ways that you can get more than the $3,000 provided by the Personal Injury Protection coverage. If your medical expenses cost $3,000 or less, then you will be completely covered by your PIP and will not need further coverage. In that case, Utah Code § 31A-22-308 blocks you from being able to sue anyone for those injuries, since your PIP already pays for them.
For any of the following injuries, though, you are allowed to sue for personal injury (and/or file claims with the other driver’s insurance company):
- Loss of limb
- Permanent disability or impairment
- Permanent disfigurement
- Any other injuries with more than $3,000 in medical expenses
Just because Utah’s PIP system might seem confusing with its $3,000 “limit,” you should rest easy that it is not really a limitation on how much money you can get for medical expenses, but rather a limit on what your own insurance company will pay out for your injuries. Also, there are other sources of money under required minimum auto insurance laws that kick in in the case of death.
Salt Lake City Personal Injury Attorney Darwin Overson Can Help You with Your Case
If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you can get help. The world of car insurance is confusing, especially if you are dealing with injuries while navigating the process. An experienced Utah car accident attorney like Salt Lake County’s Darwin Overson can help you fight insurance companies and file personal injury claims to get you the money you need for medical expenses. For a free consultation, call (801) 895-3143.