Is Pennsylvania a No-Fault Accident State?
Which Fault System Does Pennsylvania Follow: No-Fault or At-Fault?
Navigating car insurance in Pennsylvania can be confusing even if you never get into an accident. Most states have laws that designate them as a no-fault or at-fault state for car insurance, which impacts the process of filing claims and recovering settlements after an auto accident. While Pennsylvania is often referred to as a no-fault state, it is actually one of only three “choice no-fault” states in the country. When purchasing insurance, motorists in the state have the freedom to choose whether their policy operates under fault or no-fault rules.
While having these options can be positive, it also leaves drivers with an important choice. They can pick a lower-priced, no-fault insurance policy that may decrease the hassle of filing a claim after a crash. Alternatively, they can choose a fault-based policy that preserves their rights to seek full compensation from a negligent driver for economic and non-economic damages. The best option depends on each driver’s personal circumstances and goals. But no matter which type of coverage you have, don’t hesitate to reach out to an experienced Pennsylvania car accident attorney for guidance if you have any questions or concerns after a collision.
What are the Differences Between No-Fault and At-Fault Accident Systems?
The primary difference between a no-fault and an at-fault state is how insurance claims are handled after a car accident. In an at-fault state, the driver or other entity who caused the accident is responsible for paying for the damages of the other driver(s) and their passengers. The injured party can file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company or sue the driver for damages.
In contrast, in a no-fault state, each driver’s insurer pays for their own medical bills and lost wages up to their coverage limits, regardless of who caused the accident. Drivers in Pennsylvania who opt for no-fault insurance are required by state law to carry at least $5,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) or first-party benefits (FPB) coverage for medical expenses. Per the PennDOT, drivers will face fines, license suspension, and reinstatement fees unless they also carry a minimum amount of liability insurance, including:
- $15,000 for an accident resulting in the injury or death of one person
- $30,000 for an accident causing the injury or death of multiple people
- $5,000 for damage to the property of another person
What Are the Pros and Cons of No-Fault Insurance?
Pennsylvania drivers are given a choice between fault-based and no-fault car insurance when they purchase their policy. Understanding your options and choosing the right car insurance for your situation can significantly affect your future if you ever get into an accident and need to make a claim. Always feel free to ask an insurance agent or knowledgeable legal professional questions if you are uncertain which option is best for you.
Some people prefer no-fault insurance policies because the monthly premium is typically lower. However, it is crucial to look beyond the up-front costs and consider all the following benefits and drawbacks of no-fault coverage before making your decision.
- Easier and faster claims filing and settlement process since motorists don’t have to wait for the court’s decision on who is at fault before receiving their benefits.
- Reduces the number of lawsuits for minor injuries, minimizing the load on the court system.
- May cover other crash-related expenses (household services, childcare, etc.), depending on specific coverage terms.
- Potentially leads to much less hassle and stress for injured victims due to the more straightforward filing process.
- No-fault insurance gives drivers peace of mind because they know they are covered by their own policy even if they get into an accident with an underinsured or uninsured driver.
- No-fault policies typically block victims from filing a lawsuit unless they suffered severe, permanent injuries in the accident.
- Reckless drivers are not held financially liable for their actions.
- No-fault insurance policies do not cover non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering.
- Accidents and claims can drive up the victim’s premiums, not just the at-fault individual’s premium.
Can You File a Claim Against the At-Fault Driver if You Have Chosen No-Fault Insurance?
No-fault insurance in Pennsylvania is also referred to as “limited tort” insurance. This name highlights that your options for filing a lawsuit are restricted if you choose a no-fault policy. In a standard car accident, your own coverage will compensate you for your economic losses due to bodily injuries, such as medical expenses and lost wages. In these cases, you would be unable to file a lawsuit against the other driver, even if they were at fault for the accident, because you’ve already received payment from your insurance.
However, your insurance policies have limits on how much they will pay. Major accidents that result in catastrophic injuries may lead to costly medical bills that quickly outstrip your coverage limits.
Pennsylvania state law makes an exception in cases where life-altering injuries have occurred and will allow victims to file a claim against the at-fault driver to collect compensation for the damages not covered by their insurance. Additionally, these victims may be able to seek non-economic damages such as scarring and disfigurement, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. As part of your claim, you must prove that your injuries meet the legal threshold for filing a lawsuit.
How Can Our Law Firm Assist You?
Trying to handle the claims process on your own after a car accident can be confusing and anxiety-producing, no matter what type of policy you have. Having a strong legal advocate in your corner is essential to ensure your legal rights are protected and you get the full settlement you deserve. Villari, Giannone & Matteo P.C. will take the time to answer your questions and provide personalized advice that can help you feel confident and move forward with your recovery. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, contact our firm today at 610-609-8477 to schedule a free case evaluation.
- "Want to thank all of you once again not only for your professional services but your friendship and feeling like family through all of these past four years as we fought to rebuild Stefanie's life. I could not have made a better choice for helping us through this ordeal."
- "They are all very helpful, caring and they do everything to try to make sure you as a client are OK and get you what you deserve. I would recommend them to anyone. They are a great law firm."
- "I will happily be recommending your firm to anyone who may need your help in the future because of Jen, Eric and Brian."