Hawaii is one of the few states in the country that operates under a “no-fault” insurance system. Under this system, drivers involved in motor vehicle accidents are typically required to seek benefits through their own insurance policies before instead of filing a civil lawsuit. In a no-fault state, drivers are required to carry something known as personal injury protection. This type of insurance coverage—which is more commonly referred to as PIP—is designed to pay some of the damages of the insured driver regardless of who was at fault in the accident.
The downside to PIP coverage is that personal injury protection does not pay for all types of damages in Hawaii. Pursuing this type of claim could result in a smaller settlement compared to a personal injury lawsuit. The attorneys of Olson & Sons could guide you on your legal options following an injury.
What is Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Insurance?
Personal injury protection is a type of insurance designed to cover the damages of an insured driver following an accident. This differs from liability insurance, which exists to protect a driver from a claim made by someone else after a crash.
PIP coverage is mandatory under Hawaii law. Every driver must carry a minimum level of coverage on these policies, which includes at least $10,000 dollars in PIP coverage. That is in addition to the mandatory minimum levels of liability insurance, which include:
- $20,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per person
- $40,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per accident
- $10,000 in property damage liability coverage per accident
It is helpful to remember that the $10,000 PIP insurance requirement is the mandatory minimum amount of coverage you must carry. In other words, you have the right to purchase additional PIP coverage. The downside is that the more coverage you purchase, the higher your monthly premiums. What’s more, there is a deductible that applies to PIP insurance in Hawaii. You must meet that deductible out of pocket before you can pursue benefits through your policy.
Benefits From a Personal Injury Protection Claim in Hawaii
As the name implies, personal injury protection is related to the cost of your medical care after an accident. When you file a PIP claim following an accident, your insurer is required to cover all of your appropriate and reasonable medical expenses. There is a lengthy list of medical procedures that could qualify as appropriate and reasonable, including:
- Dental care
- Emergency room visits
- Hospital visits
- Surgical procedures
- Prosthetic services
- Medical supplies
- Chiropractic care
- Therapeutic massage
- In-home nursing care
The minimum amount of PIP coverage required by the state is $10,000. No matter what the limit on the policy is, an injured motorist or passenger can continue to submit medical bills to the insurance company up until the point where the policy limit is met. It is also important to remember that these benefits will only be paid after the deductible has been met.
Many states also require PIP claims to cover a driver’s lost wages. That is not always the case in Hawaii. Unlike many other no-fault states, a driver must opt in to additional PIP coverage that specifically pays for lost wages. Otherwise, your PIP benefits will only cover your medical expenses.
When Does PIP Coverage Not Apply?
The no-fault insurance system only applies to motor vehicle accidents. That means that if you have been injured in circumstances other than a motor vehicle accident, you have the right to pursue a civil lawsuit instead of filing a PIP claim.
This is an important distinction, given that a lawsuit could result in compensation that might not be available through PIP coverage. From medical malpractice to slip and fall injuries, there are numerous ways you could pursue financial compensation other than with a PIP claim.
Stepping Outside of the No-Fault System
There are many cases where you could sidestep the requirement of filing a PIP claim and move forward with a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party. There are three circumstances where you could step outside the no-fault system and file a personal injury lawsuit. This is important, given that a civil lawsuit gives you the chance to secure other compensation besides your medical bills. The three ways to avoid the no-fault insurance system include:
- Having injuries that exceed your PIP coverage
- The accident involved a fatality, or
- Your injuries resulted in permanent loss of body function or disfigurement.
Our Firm Could Advise You Of Your Personal Injury Protection After an Injury in Hawaii
If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, your PIP coverage could pay for your medical bills. In some cases, you could step outside the no-fault system and seek compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. Schedule a free consultation with Olson & Sons to discuss your legal options following an accident.