After severe car accidents, sometimes a driver requires extensive medical treatment. Depending on their insurance coverage, an injured driver might not be able to pay for the services that they require through out-of-pocket expenses. This can be extremely disheartening for some, but others that possess personal injury protection (PIP) don’t face this issue. PIP helps insured drivers receive extra coverage after they exhaust their base coverage.
Fault-Based Insurance States
Fault-based states do not require personal injury protection, though it is available as an option. PIP can be extremely beneficial to those who seek additional protection aside from their car insurance. Some drivers only use their car insurance without other associated benefits. For example, some insurance providers offer accident-related health insurance. Instead of using their auto insurance for all coverage, drivers use PIP to cover additional types of damage because it comes with benefits like lost wages, which auto insurance does not offer.
No-Fault Insurance States
Thirteen different states exercise no-fault laws in how they address car accidents. These states require each registered driver to purchase a state-wide minimum insurance plan that covers their damages after an accident. No-fault states do not assign blame in car accidents. Instead, each driver’s insurance company must cover medical bills and car repair costs, removing any interaction between either driver’s insurance company.
As mentioned previously, sometimes basic insurance does not cover all damages associated with a car accident. This is one reason why no-fault states require personal injury protection insurance. No-fault states require each driver to purchase minimum PIP on top of their original insurance plan to make sure accidents don’t leave injured drivers damages they can’t afford.
Georgia is an At-Fault State
Like most other states in the U.S., Georgia is an at-fault state, which means when fault is determined in a car accident, the party responsible and their insurance company will be liable to pay for those damages. PIP insurance is available in Georgia as an optional form of coverage, but is not mandated by the state.
Proportional Comparative Fault
Since Georgia is an “at-fault” state, insurance companies will make efforts to determine fault after a car accident. The state of Georgia has a specific type of fault, referred to as “proportional comparative fault.” This means that all drivers involved in an accident share a portion of the responsibility for a car accident. If it’s determined that a driver is more than 50% at fault for an accident, they’re unable to seek compensation for their damages. In addition, the proportion of fault also determines the amount that is recoverable. For example, if a driver is found 30% at-fault of an accident, they’ll total settlement or compensation amount will be cut 30%.
What Does PIP Cover?
Personal injury protection covers more than just medical bills. It provides coverage for the following damages:
- Medical bills accrued by both the driver and their passengers. This includes emergency services, physician examination, surgery, treatment, and outpatient services.
- Recurring medical fees. This includes fees associated with rehabilitation-related items like physical therapy, medication, and necessary medical equipment.
- Funeral fees in the case of accident-related death.
- Lost wages that result from missing work while receiving treatment for accident-related injuries. PIP might also cover future lost wages during rehabilitation and if an accident impacts your overall ability to work.
- Essential services, like household chores or child care services. Some accidents cause debilitating injuries that prevent drivers from maintaining their household and/or taking care of their children. Essential services include any task that are necessary to keep a household running.
The benefits of PIP depend wholly on your unique circumstances. For instance, a driver who is still technically capable of addressing their chores probably won’t qualify for essential services during their recovery. Injured drivers must prove their need for each benefit, as no insurance company simply hands over compensation for services without a verifiable requirement.
For more information on what PIP insurance covers and whether you are able to seek more for your damages through a personal injury lawsuit, visit our Atlanta personal injury page to learn more.
Can I Still File a Lawsuit in Georgia?
One of the additional reasons no-fault states employ mandatory PIP is to prevent drivers from submitting unnecessary claims to small claims courts. Some no-fault states require drivers to exhaust all of their PIP before filing a claim, while others set a cap in medical bill costs that driver’s must meet before they can pursue legal action. In no fault-states, these requirements are mandatory before pursuing alternative compensation.
Fault-based states operate differently, making pursuing legal action acceptable. Some states even allow plaintiffs pursue legal action if they possess more than half of the blame for an accident. In fault-based states, PIP is not a factor that impacts a driver’s ability to file a personal injury claim.
Personal injury protection is beneficial regardless of your state’s fault policies. Acting as a form of back up coverage, PIP protects its users paying for accident-related costs out-of-pocket.