Many Maryland auto insurance policies include Personal Injury Protection (PIP) in order to compensate drivers for lost wages, medical and other expenses that may result from involvement in an automobile accident. PIP coverage operates on a no-fault basis, meaning that reimbursement for applicable expenses is paid without regard to which party was responsible for causing the crash. Since fault is not a factor in the payment of PIP benefits, claims for compensation under this type of coverage will not result in increased insurance premiums or have other negative consequences. Anyone considering filing a PIP claim as a means of recovering medical expenses and lost wages needs to know that all such claims must be made within one year of the date of the automobile accident giving rise to the injuries, pursuant to Section 19-508 of the Maryland Insurance Code.
PIP coverage can benefit not only the insured driver, but also any live-in family members involved in the accident, other non-family passengers in the car at the time of the accident, individuals who had been given permission to drive the insured vehicle, and in some cases, pedestrians injured in the accident. Therefore, anyone bearing the burden of medical expenses and lost wages as a result of an automobile wreck should investigate the availability of PIP coverage to reimburse those costs, even if they personally did not have PIP coverage at the time.
PIP coverage is not a mandatory part of auto insurance policies in Maryland, but it must be offered to every customer and must be explicitly waived in writing by drivers not wishing to purchase it. In the absence of a signed, executed coverage waiver, any PIP claims arising by virtue of an insurance policy must be honored. But again, even if PIP coverage was waived, reimbursement for lost wages and medical expenses resulting from an accident event may potentially be sought through PIP coverage already in place through a related party’s policy.
There is one additional feature of PIP claims in Maryland of which every driver should be aware, and that is the so-called collateral source rule. Under this legal construct, a party with PIP coverage who is injured in an auto accident can effectively realize a double recovery, collecting expense reimbursement from their own policy, as well as from the insurance policy of the other driver.
Given the relatively short, one-year window the law allows for the filing of PIP claims in Maryland, anyone involved in an automobile accident would be well advised to seek the advice of an attorney. By contacting our law firm for a free phone case evaluation, accident victims can take the first critical step toward preserving their rights.