Washington automobile insurers must offer personal injury protection coverage (PIP). PIP benefits may cover medical expenses, lost wages, funeral expenses, and loss of services. Washington car accident attorneys know that it is not always clear whether an incident resulting in injuries gives rise to a PIP claim. In a recent case, a Washington appeals court determined whether an insured person could receive PIP benefits for injuries he suffered when he fell out of a parked vehicle.
The plaintiff felt nauseated while he was driving with his son. He turned onto a side street and pulled over. He put the vehicle in park but left it running. He unbuckled his seatbelt and leaned out the window to be sick. As he was leaning out the window, he passed out and fell forward. He received significant injuries when he struck his head on the pavement. His head and upper body had fallen outside the vehicle, but his legs and feet were near the pedals. He bled profusely. His son then drove him to the hospital.
The plaintiff’s medical bills exceeded $10,000. He filed a PIP claim with his automobile insurer. The policy states that it will provide the specified benefits “for bodily injury to each Insured person caused by a motor vehicle accident.” The insurer denied coverage, determining that there was no motor vehicle accident to trigger coverage. The insurer argued that a motor vehicle accident can only occur when the vehicle is being operated as a motor vehicle, and that is not the case when the vehicle is parked. The plaintiff’s injuries occurred when he fell from his parked vehicle, so the insurer determined that they were not a result of a motor vehicle accident.