Who Pays For Car Accident Compensation In Pennsylvania?
Our law firm explains this complex and difficult process
If you've been hurt in a car accident in Pennsylvania, the sheer cost of your injuries can seem overwhelming. Medical bills. Lost wages. Property damage. Even a seemingly minor crash can end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
If you didn't cause your accident, you shouldn't have to pay for it. But how do you get compensation? That's a complicated question. And at Marcus & Mack, our mission is to help you answer it. That's why our car accident lawyers prepared this brief guide to compensation for auto accidents in Pennsylvania.
Understanding "no-fault" car insurance in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is considered a "no-fault" state for auto insurance. That does not mean fault for the accident doesn't matter. What it means is you are first required to file a claim with your own insurance company to get compensation for your injuries, and you may be limited in terms of the amount of compensation you can pursue from the at-fault driver.
However, Pennsylvania has a somewhat complex system in which your right to sue the other driver depends on whether you have opted for "limited tort" or "full tort" coverage. Under limited tort, you generally cannot sue for pain and suffering unless your injuries qualify as "serious," or other limited tort exemptions apply, as defined in the standard car insurance policy in Pennsylvania. With full tort, you retain your right to sue for pain and suffering due to your injuries after any accident in which you are not at fault. This system can be confusing for injured parties - and the insurance companies know it. That's why it's so important to have your own legal advocate to level the playing field.
"First-party" benefits from your own insurance company
Under Pennsylvania law, all policies must include medical benefits coverage. This is a type of coverage from your own insurance company that pays for your medical bills if you are injured in an accident, regardless of who was at fault, up to the policy limit.
You may also opt for collision coverage, which protects against damage to your vehicle in the event of a crash. Collision coverage pays for repairs to your car at fair market value, or replacement if your vehicle is declared a total loss.
Filing a "third-party" claim with the other driver's insurance
Although Pennsylvania requires motorists to carry no-fault benefits, all drivers are also required to have liability insurance to pay for any injuries they cause in an accident. The minimum liability coverage in Pennsylvania is:
- $15,000 for bodily injury to a single person, per accident
- $30,000 total for all injuries inflicted (to multiple people) in a single accident
- $5,000 for property damage, per accident
Filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver
Under Pennsylvania law, you have up to two years from the date of an accident to file a lawsuit in civil court.
Uninsured and underinsured motorists
Some drivers choose to break the law and drive without insurance. In other cases, the other driver may only have the minimum liability coverage and your damages may exceed the policy limit. If the at-fault driver does not have enough coverage to pay all of the compensation you are owed, you have the option of recovering damages from the driver's assets. However, trying to recover damages from an individual (as opposed to an insurance company) is usually very difficult, and most uninsured or underinsured drivers don't have sufficient assets to recover in the first place.
A better option is to file an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim with your insurance company. Uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) protection are optional types of coverage in Pennsylvania - and we highly recommend that you carry them. Uninsured motorist protection stands in for the other motorist's liability coverage, providing compensation for losses that would be paid by the at-fault uninsured driver's insurance carrier if he or she had insurance. Likewise, underinsured motorist coverage pays for losses over and above the at-fault driver's policy limit, up to your own UIM policy limit.
Unsure what kind of insurance coverage you have or what your legal options are after your accident? Simply contact our law firm. An experienced Pennsylvania lawyer can analyze your accident free of charge and offer you advice on what to do next. Call 888-480-5317 right now.