Understanding Pennsylvania’s No-Fault Auto Insurance – What You Need to Know

Understanding Pennsylvania’s No-Fault Auto Insurance – What You Need to Know

Car insurance covers financial losses that result from a car accident. The insured driver pays for its premiums and covers a variety of losses, including medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses. Pennsylvania is among a few “choice no-fault” states, and drivers can choose between full and limited tort policies when purchasing auto insurance. Their choice will significantly impact their legal rights in a crash.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Pennsylvania drivers are required by law to have a minimum of $5,000 in first-party medical benefits coverage, which pays for a driver’s and passengers’ injuries after an accident, regardless of fault. This coverage helps avoid lawsuits and negligence claims and often helps injured parties get the medical care they need much sooner than they would otherwise. However, suppose your injuries exceed the statutory definition of serious injury or will permanently decrease your quality of life. In that case, you may bypass the no-fault system and sue for additional damages. This type of insurance is typically more expensive, but it allows you to recover compensation for pain and suffering. Is Pennsylvania a no-fault state? Pennsylvania is also a choice no-fault state, meaning you can opt in or out of the no-fault insurance rules when you purchase your auto insurance policy. At Wapner Newman, our experienced car accident lawyers can help you understand your options and find the best policies for your needs.

Bodily Injury Liability

In a typical fault-based system, if you are hurt in an accident, you must file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company and sue them for non-economic damages like pain and suffering. However, with no-fault insurance, you can receive immediate monetary coverage for medical bills and other expenses. This can be especially helpful in highly populated states where medical bills and car accidents may occur more often. Drivers can choose full or limited tort coverage on their auto insurance policies in Pennsylvania. Selecting limited tort allows you to opt into the no-fault system and waive your ability to sue for personal damages unless your injuries are severe and fall within a specific exception to the state’s no-fault law. Full tort, however, gives you and your family members the right to sue for personal damages, including pain and suffering. Whether or not to choose this type of policy can be an important decision that should be made with the help of an experienced insurance agent or an attorney.

Property Damage Liability

While the majority of states are fault-based, there are 13 that mandate no-fault insurance. In these no-fault states, injured parties receive compensation for their medical costs and lost wages from their insurers, regardless of who is at fault for the accident. These policies also allow injured parties to file a lawsuit against the liable party for damages like pain and suffering, which are not covered by PIP or liability insurance. These non-economic damages may include loss of enjoyment of life, disfigurement, and mental anguish. Pennsylvania is one of these no-fault states, but it is a choice no-fault state, meaning drivers can opt for either full or limited tort insurance. If you choose limited tort coverage, you are choosing to opt into the no-fault system, and you will be severely restricted from suing unless you suffer a severe injury. It’s essential to understand the different options before you buy a policy.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Most states operate under a fault system that requires the driver responsible for an accident to cover all losses. However, Pennsylvania is unique because it’s considered a choice, no-fault state. When you sign up for insurance in Pennsylvania, you can choose between full tort or limited tort policies. Full tort insurance will allow you to bypass the no-fault rules by pursuing compensation for all medical treatment, out-of-pocket losses, and pain and suffering, provided your injuries meet the statutory definition of serious injury, which includes severe impairment of a body function or permanent and significant disfigurement. On the other hand, choosing a limited tort policy will save you on premiums. Still, it will only allow you to recover out-of-pocket medical expenses and certain non-economic damages. If you are considering limited tort, you should know that the minimum required PIP coverage only covers up to $5,000 in injuries and that many serious injuries will exceed this amount.

Rohit Raina
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