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We hear all the time that Kentucky is a “no-fault” auto accident state. Well, what does that actually mean? And what does it have to do with Kentucky’s required PIP insurance coverage?

In this April 20th video segment from WAVE 3 “Listens Live!” attorney Kerstin Schuhmann talks about what it means when people say Kentucky is a “no-fault state,” and exactly what PIP is and what it does for Kentucky drivers. If you have any questions about your own case, you can call (502) 458-5555.


JOHN RAMSEY: And welcome back to WAVE 3 Listens. You may have heard the terminology used, “Kentucky is no-fault state”—true, but it’s a little bit more complex than that. So we’ve asked for the expertise of Kaufman & Stigger injury lawyers; with me now is Kerstin Schuhmann. Kerstin, welcome to the show. I’m going to cut to the chase because I know you have limited time—very busy—so, no-fault state. What exactly does that mean, when I’m told that?

KERSTIN SCHUHMANN: Well, no-fault doesn’t refer to who is at fault for an accident. It actually refers to a part of your insurance policy that’s called no-fault or “PIP” coverage; sometimes your insurance agent may explain PIP coverage to you: PIP, and what that stands for is “personal injury protection” coverage. So, personal injury protection coverage or PIP makes payment on medical bills, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses when you are injured in an automobile accident in Kentucky. What the “no-fault” nomenclature means is, for example, say you and I are in an accident together (and I’m going to make you the at-fault party, if that’s okay).


KERSTIN SCHUHMANN: So, I’m sitting at a red light, completely still; you come up behind me and rear-end me. And we’re both injured in an accident. You’re driving your car; I’m driving my car. So if I’m injured in that accident my insurance company has—I have PIP coverage, which is required in Kentucky. And I can go to the doctor; I can get some portion of my lost wages paid under my PIP, my no-fault coverage part of my automobile insurance policy. You are also injured but you were the person who caused the accident: You are at fault. You can also go to the doctor, proceed to get a payment of lost wages or out-of-pocket expenses paid under your PIP coverage with your automobile insurance company. So PIP coverage makes payment to injured people involved in automobile accidents in the state of Kentucky. And it’s part of your automobile policy. Most people don’t know they have that coverage, but it’s an important coverage to have, especially if you don’t have health insurance because you can go to the doctor, you can get a portion of your lost wages paid, you can get your prescriptions reimbursed to you, so even if you’re at-fault, you have that available to you.

JOHN RAMSEY: Interesting. So, I’m curious: So if you’re in an accident, you say there’s an obvious (in this case me, okay, I’m the one…) So what are the advantages of me carrying insurance if, you know, to me, I’m going: “Okay, I don’t need to carry insurance because she’s going to have insurance; that’s going to cover her…” So, what are the repercussions if I’m a guilty party and a bad citizen and I do not have insurance?

KERSTIN SCHUHMANN: Well, that’s a different question, but if you had no insurance you wouldn’t be able to go to the doctor with your PIP coverage, that type of thing. But then I would seek my own automobile insurance uninsured motorist coverage, but that’s a separate coverage from PIP. PIP is just there to help people who are injured go to the doctor immediately and not have to wait to figure out “Who’s at fault?” in an accident. You know, it might be (as Cara was discussing with you earlier) “he said, she said” if it’s a red light/green light dispute—


KERSTIN SCHUHMANN: —and we don’t have any witnesses; the legislature when they passed this particular law wanted the drivers in the state of Kentucky, if they were injured, to be able to go get medical assistance and get better without having to dispute who’s at fault and having the at-fault party pay for their medical bills; that type of thing. And even in Indiana, there’s a coverage called “med pay” coverage, so, if you’re a driver in Indiana and you have an Indiana policy, you can protect yourself by paying for med pay coverage, which will pay for medical bills for you when you’re injured in an automobile accident. It’s your own coverage; it protects you.

JOHN RAMSEY: Okay. Well, Kerstin, my question is, it sounds like what we’re talking about here is minimal payments and covering some of, so what if the injuries are extensive? Who pays for that?

KERSTIN SCHUHMANN: Well, generally, the PIP coverage is just there to help you get your medical, you know, started, go to the doctor, make sure you’re okay. What you’re talking about is the at-fault person, normally, then you’re going to seek additional compensation from that person’s insurance company. So, say you rear-end me while I’m sitting still at a red light but I’m severely injured. I’m going to start the claims process with my own company to get that PIP coverage set up so that I can go to the doctor, and get my prescriptions paid, possibly get some lost wages paid. But then I’m going to make a claim against you under your liability coverage. Because you’ve injured me; I’ve lost time from work, you know, I have pain and suffering; I might have been off work for two months—


KERSTIN SCHUHMANN: —you know, that type of thing. So that’s what your liability coverage is there for.


KERSTIN SCHUHMANN: To help pay those additional costs.

JOHN RAMSEY: Gotcha. So, being a no-fault state is a little bit more complex than maybe I would have thought…


JOHN RAMSEY: …and that’s why you need the experts of Kaufman & Stigger injury lawyers. Let’s put the information up on the screen—there it is; and great people like Kerstin Schuhmann will take care of you. They are the experts and this sounds a little bit complex. It is—for laypeople, but not for the people, the experts, at Kaufman & Stigger injury lawyers. We’ll be right back on WAVE 3 Listens.