What You Need to Know About Motorcycle Accidents and PIP

Motorcycle AccidentIf you own and ride a motorcycle, then you appreciate the feeling of freedom and independence that comes with hitting the open road, weaving around traffic, and the quick and easy acceleration that comes with most bikes.  Most motorcycle riders are careful, cautious and courteous riders because they also understand the risks that come with riding and the importance of being adequately insured. Because of their size, motorcycles are sometimes invisible to other motorists. When making turns at intersections and entering an adjoining lane, drivers can easily misjudge the speed and distance of a motorcycle, if they even notice them, and will cross directly into their path. In most accidents at even moderate speeds, the results are often tragic.

Although you may have full coverage on your motorcycle and for your passenger vehicle, not all insurance coverages are created equal. For example, Massachusetts law requires that cars and motorcycles have liability insurance as well as PIP coverage, or Personal Injury Protection. PIP provides an injured driver, passenger or pedestrian certain limited benefits for wage loss and medical expenses. It is paid regardless of who was at fault for the accident. But PIP coverage is not available to motorcycle riders or their passengers, despite being required to have it.

Generally, PIP covers the first $2000 for medical expenses before your private medical insurer takes over. This amount includes any wage loss claim. If you do not have private medical insurance, then the coverage increases to $8000.

PIP Coverage For Motorcycles is Very Limited

If you have a motorcycle, your PIP coverage exists largely in name only. If you ever wondered why your insurance coverage for a bike is substantially less than that for a car, it is not because of its size or less capacity for causing property damage to another vehicle. PIP coverage for a bike only covers pedestrians. As the driver or as a passenger, PIP will not pay you a dime in medical expenses or wage loss. If you happen to strike a pedestrian, however, that person is covered. Motorcycle/pedestrian accidents are extremely rare, so even allowing PIP coverage for such an event is no more than a concession to your having to pay the PIP premium each month.

Get Adequate Coverage for Yourself

Unfortunately, most motorcycle riders fail to read the entire policy for their bike, being only concerned with property damage coverage and meeting at least the minimal liability coverage in Massachusetts, which is $20,000/$40,000. This means your insurance will pay out no more than $20,000 for an individual injured in an accident and a total of $40,000 for multiple injured victims. Many accidents, especially those involving motorcyclists, involve serious injuries with medical expenses and wage losses in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Since you receive nothing for wage loss in a motorcycle accident from PIP, you could purchase medical pay coverage on your policy, but that may increase your premiums substantially. If you are seriously injured and disabled, Social Security Disability could help but this is often delayed since 60% of all claims are initially denied, forcing you to litigate the issue with your motorcycle accident lawyer. You can also purchase your own disability insurance, which can be long term or short term. Carefully read the policy since most policies will exclude hazardous activities such as scuba diving, hang gliding, sky diving and motorcycle riding. There are policies that cover motorcycle riding so long as you are not engaged in competitive racing.

Regarding liability coverage for yourself, getting a minimum policy is risky, especially if another party is seeking damages from you. But you should at least consider obtaining adequate uninsured and underinsured (UM) coverage of at least $100,000 since your risk of sustaining a serious and permanent injury in an accident is much greater than if you were in a passenger car. UM coverage provides you compensation if the accident was the fault of an uninsured driver. Underinsured coverage gives you additional compensation if the at-fault driver’s coverage is minimal. For instance, if that motorist had coverage of $20,000 and your UIM is $100,000, you can recover up to an additional $80,000 once your motorcycle accident lawyer is able to exhaust the other driver’s policy limits.

Damages in a Motorcycle Accident

Your damages in a motorcycle accident can be catastrophic. They typically include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Past and future income loss
  • Diminished or lost earning capacity
  • Permanent disability
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Pain and suffering
  • Diminished enjoyment of life
  • Emotional trauma
  • Spousal loss of consortium

Retain the Law Office of Burns and Jain

Motorcycle accidents often involve complex issues of liability and proof of damages. By retaining an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer, you are giving yourself the best opportunity for obtaining the most compensation for your injury. Call the attorneys at the Law Offices of Burns and Jain if you or a loved one was involved in a motorcycle or any other accident and see why so many clients return and refer friends and family to a dynamic law office that gets results.