I was in a car crash over a year ago - sustained severe hip/trauma injuries; some long-term disabilities.
The accident was caused by uninsured driver with no assets. My car insurance policy had a 50,000 limit for UM, but after my health insurance got their share of the pie, I ended up getting about half. I have since found out that my auto insurance cannot produce a copy of my signed PIP waiver. As a result, (per WA State OIC) they can be forced to add PIP retro, which will give me an additional 10k in coverage.
My question is... can this case be re-opened so I can receive an additional 10k in PIP coverage? (my attorney doesn't seem interested in getting involved)
As a preliminary matter, if you settled for the policy limits of your UIM policy and your claim was in excess of your UIM policy limits, then you were not obligated to reimburse your health insurance provider. Washington law is very clear on this matter; your health insurer's subrogation claim, i.e., right to reimbursement for medical bills paid for accident-related treatment, does not accrue until you are made whole. If you were not made whole, then your health insurer was not entilted to reimbursement. With regard to whether you can "re-open" your PIP, you are correct in that you have PIP coverage regardless of whether you paid any premium for that coverage assuming the insurance company cannot produce a signed waiver. However, this coverage is solely for medical bills and wage loss (80%) related to the accident--you cannot recover non-economic damages for pain and suffering, et al.; if you have outstanbing medical bills and/or wage loss, or you were forced to pay medical bills out of your settlement, then you could re-open. One other thing, if you made a claim for PIP coverage and you were denied, then you would also have a bad faith claim against the insurance company, which would entitle you to triple damages as well as an award of attorney's fees and costs incurred in pursuing the claim.
You almost certainly signed a release when you settled the UM claim. The issue is whether the release can be used to shut the door on the PIP claim. Unfortunate that you had not been aware of this before you settled the UM claim. Good luck.
The author of this post is licensed to practice law in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. This post is intended as general information only, and is not provided as legal advice in connection with any specific case, and does not create an attorney-client relationship.
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