Delaware residents who are injured in auto accidents are often unaware of how PIP (personal injury protection) coverage works. PIP coverage in Delaware is mandatory on every car insurance policy issued in the state. It covers medical bills, lost wages, and other types of financial losses such as funeral expenses and certain household expenses. The minimum PIP coverage required on all Delaware auto insurance policies is $15,000 per person, per accident.
Are You Eligible for PIP?
About 90% of the time, individuals injured in car accidents in Delaware will be eligible for PIP coverage. However, in the past, car insurance companies have tried to deny PIP coverage when an injury did not result from an actual auto crash or auto accident. This has certainly been the case for the past 15 years, since at least 1997.
Related: Hurt in a Car Accident in Wilmington? Learn the Basics of Delaware PIP Coverage Law
However, Delaware PIP law changed significantly in 2013 when the Delaware Supreme Court amended the legal standard for deciding whether an individual is entitled to PIP benefits. See Kelty v. State Farm (2013).
In the Kelty case, the plaintiff was performing yard work that involved using a truck to pull branches from a tree. While the plaintiff cut a branch from the tree, the truck driver accelerated with a branch tied to his truck. Plaintiff fell out of the tree when the rope snapped from the truck, causing a branch to strike a nearby electric line. He tried to make a claim for PIP benefits from the truck driver’s car insurance company, which the insurance company denied. The plaintiff then brought suit against the truck driver’s insurance company, State Farm.
The trial court (Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle County, Delaware) dismissed the case. The court applied what is known as the 3 prong Klug test:
(1) whether the vehicle was an active accessory in causing the injury,
(2) whether there was an independent act that broke the causal link between use of the vehicle and the injuries, and
(3) whether the vehicle was used for transportation purposes.
The court found that the truck was actively involved in causing the injury, and there was no break in the chain of events. However, since the truck was not used for purposes of transportation, the plaintiff was not eligible for PIP benefits.
On appeal to the Supreme Court of Delaware, the plaintiff won his case. The court decided that the third part of the Klug test had no basis in Delaware’s PIP law and therefore rejected it.
As a result, Delaware residents are eligible for PIP coverage so long as the injuries were basically caused by an automobile (i.e., during the maintenance or use of a motor vehicle).
Help Filing a Delaware Car Accident Insurance Claim
If you need help with a PIP claim after an auto accident in Delaware, please contact our office for a free consultation. Firm founder Martin Knepper has been handling Delaware car accident cases for over 30 years. (302) 658-1717 (Wilmington, Newark) | (302) 736-5500 (Dover)
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