One of the most important things all drivers pay for (and are required by law to pay for) is automobile insurance. Vehicle accidents happen all the time in Pennsylvania, and nearly everyone will get into an accident in their lifetime. At the SMA Law Group, we want to discuss some of the options that our citizens have when it comes to insuring themselves. This is a confusing topic, and you should always speak with a qualified PA auto crash attorney in the aftermath of a crash.
What does our no-fault system look like?
Pennsylvania is one of a handful of states that has a “no-fault” system in place, but ours is a bit more confusing than most. Typically, a no-fault system means that, regardless of who caused an accident, each party will file a claim with their own insurer (particularly their personal injury protection) to get coverage for certain expenses.
However, in PA, the law allows people to opt-out of the no-fault system.
We know it can be tough to follow, but drivers here can make the choice to purchase full tort insurance, which usually costs more than no-fault minimum coverage.
So, what does this all mean for an insurance claim?
If you went with no-fault insurance
If you went with the no-fault insurance minimums, you have the following coverage:
- $15,000 for bodily injury liability per injured person (if you were at fault)
- $30,000 total bodily injury liability per accident (if you were at fault)
- $5,000 property damage protection (if you were at fault)
- $5,000 in medical benefits coverage for your medical bills (or anyone else covered under your policy) regardless of who was at fault
By choosing the no-fault, or limited tort, coverage, you are giving up a significant amount of rights when it comes to pursuing financial compensation for injuries and damages when another driver is at fault in the accident. With no-fault insurance, you can receive compensation and medical care for medical treatment and other out-of-pocket expenses, but not for non-economic losses like pain and suffering damages.
The only way to pursue a personal injury claim after choosing no-fault insurance is if the injuries you sustain are considered “serious” under Pennsylvania law. This can include injuries that impair bodily function or result in serious or permanent disfigurement.
If you purchased full tort insurance
If you went with full tort insurance, something more typical in other states, you have more rights when it comes to recovering compensation in the aftermath of an accident. With this insurance, you can recover coverage for:
- All medical expenses related to the crash
- Lost income and benefits if you are unable to work
- Other out-of-pocket expenses
- Non-economic damages like pain and suffering (even if the injuries are not considered serious under the law)
What about property damage?
The Pennsylvania no-fault system applies only to injuries caused by an accident. To recover expenses for vehicle damages, you can make a claim against an at-fault driver with no limitations.