Now that spring has finally arrived, pedestrians and bicyclists start coming out of winter's hibernation. Since we all share the roads together, this brings autos into close range of Hammies who aren't surrounded by a cozy plastic and metal cage.
We all know that it’s not necessary to buy an insurance policy if you’re going to take a walk or ride your bike, thankfully. However, if you’re hit by a car while doing so, does that mean you’re unable to be compensated for your injuries and losses? Fortunately, no, thanks to PIP.
Personal Injury Protection is an extension of car insurance that covers medical expenses and, in many cases, lost wages. It is often called “no-fault” coverage because it pays out claims regardless of who is at fault in the accident.
What surprises many folks is that PIP policies for drivers also cover pedestrians and bicycle riders hit by a car. If the car’s driver has no PIP, the bicyclist or pedestrian can access their own auto-PIP coverage even if they were not in any car. Often, I’m the first person to tell accident victims this, because the insurers can be reluctant to volunteer the info.
Additionally, walkers and bikers' own Underinsured Motorist Protection benefits (UIM) will supplement the liability insurance of the person that hurt them – even though they were on foot or on a bicycle at the time the car hit them.
There’s a chance that if a Bellingham driver hits you, he or she won’t have PIP coverage. This is due to a law in Washington State that allows drivers to waive this coverage. Insurers are required to offer it, but drivers can opt out. Better to be safe than sorry, and make sure you don’t choose to opt out of PIP coverage when you shop for your insurance policy. If you’re hit by someone who doesn’t have it, you can go after your own insurer to cover you through your policy.
I talk about this more in a series of YouTube videos on my Bill Coats Law channel. Check them out here to learn more: