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Is Pennsylvania a No-Fault State

Is Pennsylvania a No-Fault Insurance State If I Am In a Car Accident?

Pennsylvania is a no-fault state when it comes to auto insurance. This means that in the event of a car accident, each party’s own insurance policy is responsible for covering their medical expenses and other financial losses, regardless of who was at fault in causing the car accident. Pennsylvania’s system allows for some degree of choice by the insured between “full tort” and “limited tort” options, which can impact the ability to sue for pain and suffering.

injured women standing by car after a car accident

Understanding Pennsylvania’s No-Fault System

A no-fault system, generally speaking, is designed to streamline the process of compensating for injuries sustained in auto accidents, with the goal of reducing the need for litigation. Under this system, rather than determining who is at fault in a car accident to decide financial responsibility, each driver’s own auto insurance coverage pays for their losses. This setup can significantly speed up the claims process, avoiding the often lengthy and complicated procedure of establishing liability. Again, Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, so when you have been injured in a car accident, consult with the experienced car accident attorneys at PhillyLaw, who can help guide you through your options through your auto insurance policy. Contact us for a free consultation.

The Various Types of Auto Insurance Coverage in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, the no-fault insurance rule significantly influences how individuals can seek compensation following a car accident. Under this system, since your own insurance company covers some of your economic losses, the ability to pursue additional compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurance is dependent upon your tort option. If you own a vehicle or reside with a relative with auto insurance, you are bound by their tort option if you do not have your own auto insurance policy. If you are a passenger or a driver in a vehicle you do not own and do not have auto insurance, you are deemed to have full tort.

Personal Injury Protection and Bodily Injury Liability Coverage In Pennsylvania

Bodily Injury Liability (BIL) and Personal Injury Protection (PIP) are distinct types of auto insurance coverage in Pennsylvania, serving different purposes. BIL is designed to cover the expenses related to the injuries the policyholder causes to someone else in an accident. Conversely, PIP is part of the no-fault coverage that pays for the policyholder’s own medical expenses, regardless of who is at fault in the accident. Thus, while BIL coverage is oriented toward liabilities a driver has towards others, PIP coverage is focused on the driver’s own protection and immediate needs following an accident.

Personal Injury Protection Coverage in Pennsylvania

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage is a key component of auto insurance policies in Pennsylvania, due to its no-fault system. PIP coverage is designed to pay for the medical expenses of the policyholder and any passengers injured in an auto accident, regardless of who is determined to be at fault. This coverage extends to a variety of expenses beyond just medical bills, including rehabilitation costs, lost wages, and even funeral expenses under certain circumstances.

PIP coverage ensures that individuals have immediate access to funds for recovery from serious injuries, minimizing the financial strain often associated with auto accidents. Pennsylvania law requires all drivers to carry a minimum amount of PIP coverage, emphasizing the state’s commitment to protecting motorists and their passengers from the immediate financial impacts of road accidents.

Bodily Injury Liability Auto Insurance Coverage

In Pennsylvania, alongside the no-fault insurance system, drivers must also be aware of bodily injury liability coverage. This type of coverage is crucial because it kicks in when you’re deemed responsible for causing an accident that causes serious injuries to other people. Bodily injury liability can help cover the costs of other individuals’ medical bills, lost wages, and even pain and suffering resulting from the accident.

In Pennsylvania, the law requires drivers to carry a minimum amount of bodily injury liability insurance. This ensures that, in the event of causing serious injuries to others in a vehicular accident, the at-fault driver has some financial support to offer to the injured parties, thus protecting both parties involved in the crash.

Understanding Comparative Negligence in Pennsylvania’s No-Fault System

In Pennsylvania’s no-fault system, comparative negligence, also known as proportional fault, adds an interesting dimension to how automobile accident claims are assessed and compensated. Comparative negligence allows for the allocation of fault amongst drivers involved in an accident based on the percentage of their contribution to the accident. This means that in situations where fault is disputed or shared, the financial responsibility for damages and injuries can be divided according to each party’s level of fault.

In the context of Pennsylvania’s no-fault insurance system, comparative negligence primarily comes into play when attempting to recover damages not covered by Personal Injury Protection (PIP), such as compensation for “pain and suffering” under the “full tort” option. It essentially shapes the outcome of such claims, ensuring that compensation is aligned with each party’s responsibility in causing the accident.

Full Tort Coverage in Pennsylvania’s No-Fault System

Choosing the “full tort” also known as fault insurance option in Pennsylvania’s no-fault auto insurance system provides you with unrestricted rights to sue an at-fault driver in a car accident for pain and suffering and other non-monetary damages, in addition to recovering out-of-pocket medical expenses and lost wages. This option is typically pricier in terms of insurance company premiums compared to the “limited tort” counterpart but offers a broader scope of compensation.

Full tort coverage essentially removes the limitations on your ability to file a lawsuit for a car accident against the negligent party, allowing for full legal recourse for injuries sustained in a car accident, regardless of their severity. This choice is particularly beneficial for those seeking full protection and the ability to hold at-fault drivers fully accountable for their actions.

The Limited Tort Option in Pennsylvania’s No-Fault System

Opting for the limited tort insurance option under Pennsylvania law restricts your right to sue for pain and suffering and other non-economic damages, should you get involved in a car accident. With limited tort, you agree to relinquish certain rights to sue in exchange for a reduction in your insurance premiums. However, it’s important to note that this limitation does not apply to claims for out-of-pocket expenses, such as medical bills and lost wages.

Furthermore, there are exceptions that allow for full tort rights under the limited tort option if the injuries meet certain legal definitions of severity, such as serious impairment of body function or permanent disfigurement. This option is often chosen by individuals looking to save on insurance costs while still receiving some level of protection against potential accidents.

Exceptions for Limited Tort that Allow for Full Tort Rights

While the limited tort option under Pennsylvania’s no-fault auto insurance system places restrictions on the ability to sue for non-economic damages, there are significant exceptions. These exceptions permit individuals with limited tort coverage to seek full tort rights in certain circumstances.

Serious Impairment or Permanent Disfigurement

Notably, if an accident results in injuries that can be classified as a “serious impairment of body function” or cause “permanent disfigurement,” the restrictions of the limited tort option may be bypassed.

At-fault Driver was Under the Influence

Additionally, if the at-fault driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and pleads guilty or is found guilty of DUI, the injured victim may seek full tort rights.

These exceptions aim to ensure that victims of particularly severe or criminal behavior on the part of the at-fault driver can pursue a wider range of compensation, reflecting the seriousness of their injuries or the egregiousness of the at-fault driver’s actions.

Commercial Vehicle

If you are driving or a passenger in a commercial vehicle, such as an Uber, Lyft, Septa bus, etc., you are deemed to have full tort. 

Out-of-State Vehicle

If you are injured as a result of a fault of a driver of an out-of-state registered vehicle, you are not bound by limited tort.

We Understand Pennsylvania’s No-Fault System and Can Help You Seek Compensation from the Appropriate Insurance Company for Your Injuries

The attorneys at PhillyLaw possess a profound understanding of Pennsylvania’s no-fault system and are committed to assisting individuals who have been injured in car accidents. Their expertise not only encompasses the intricate details of how the no-fault system operates but also the strategic application of exceptions and the nuanced understanding of coverage options.

Whether navigating the complexities of filing an insurance claim under the PIP coverage, leveraging the full tort option for comprehensive compensation, or understanding the implications of comparative negligence, PhillyLaw’s team is adept at ensuring their clients receive the maximum possible recovery. With a compassionate approach paired with aggressive advocacy, they stand ready to guide accident victims through the process of securing financial restitution for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact us today for a free consultation.