Is Pennsylvania a No-Fault Accident State?
Ryan Zavodnick | August 28, 2021 | Car Accidents
Pennsylvania is both a fault and no-fault state for automobile accidents. The type of insurance policy a driver chooses determines their rights to pursue damages after a car accident. Understanding fault and no-fault insurance laws before you purchase a car insurance policy is essential.
Fault vs. No-Fault Insurance Policies
States that have fault-based insurance rules require drivers to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance. The purpose of liability insurance is to compensate accident victims for damages caused by an at-fault driver. Damages that might be recovered for an automobile accident include economic and non-economic damages.
Examples of the types of damages an accident victim might claim include:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Cost of physical, occupational, and other therapies
- Expenses related to personal care and assistance with household chores
- Loss of benefits and income, including decreases in earning capacity and future lost wages
- Physical, mental, and emotional pain and suffering
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Other out-of-pocket expenses or losses
The accident victim must prove that the other driver caused the accident before the insurance company pays a claim in a fault state. If the value of the damages exceeds the insurance coverage, the accident victim may sue the at-fault driver.
In no-fault insurance states, drivers purchase Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or other no-fault insurance. After a car crash, each driver files claims with their insurance providers, regardless of who caused the accident. There is no need to prove negligence or fault to receive no-fault insurance benefits.
However, some states allow accident victims who sustain serious injuries to pursue legal claims against at-fault drivers. Each no-fault insurance state sets the injury threshold or financial threshold for suing a driver after a car accident.
Insurance Requirements for Pennsylvania Drivers
Pennsylvania is one of just a few no-fault insurance states that allow drivers to “opt-out” of no-fault insurance. The system is commonly referred to as a “choice no-fault” system.
As a driver in Pennsylvania, you are required to maintain the following insurance coverage:
- Bodily injury coverage – $15,000 for injury to one person and $30,000 per accident
- PIP insurance coverage – $5,000
- Property damage coverage – $5,000
After a car accident, each driver files claims against their PIP policies for medical expenses and lost wages. However, some drivers may have the right to sue the other driver for damages if they chose full tort insurance coverage.
Limited Tort vs. Full Tort Insurance Coverage
As discussed above, Pennsylvania is not entirely a no-fault insurance state. Instead, drivers have the option of purchasing full tort or limited tort insurance policies. A tort is conduct that causes harm or injury to another person.
Limited tort insurance policies mean that you accept the no-fault insurance rules after an accident. As a result, regardless of who caused the crash, you file a claim with your insurance provider for medical expenses and lost wages. However, you cannot recover compensation for pain and suffering damages.
Even though you may choose limited tort insurance, you can sue the at-fault driver for financial damages if you sustained severe injuries, such as a permanent impairment or disfigurement. In that case, you might recover compensation for economic damages not covered by your no-fault insurance policy. However, you cannot recover damages for pain and suffering.
If you choose full tort coverage, you have the option of filing a lawsuit against the other driver, regardless of the severity of your injuries. You must prove the other driver caused the accident to recover damages. However, you can recover compensation for economic damages and pain and suffering damages once you prove fault.
Limited tort insurance costs less than full tort insurance. Therefore, many drivers may choose no-fault insurance coverage to save money. However, their ability to recover compensation for all damages after a car crash is restricted.
Filing an Insurance Claim After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania
Seeking prompt medical care after a car accident is vital for your health. It also helps when filing an insurance claim. You need medical documentation proving that you were injured in the car accident. Delays in medical care give the insurance company a reason to question your claim.
Regardless of the severity of your injuries, you need to document your damages by keeping detailed records of medical expenses and lost wages. It is also a good idea to take pictures of your injuries throughout your recovery. You might also want to keep a journal detailing your recovery, including activities you cannot perform, your emotional state, and daily pain levels.
Because Pennsylvania car insurance laws are complex, it might also be wise to seek legal counsel before filing an insurance claim. If you are unsure of your rights after a car accident, a car accident lawyer can review your case and advise you of your options for recovering compensation for your damages.
Zavodnick, Zavodnick & Lasky, LLC
123 S Broad St #1220
Philadelphia, PA 19109