Navigating the complexities of the Pennsylvania no fault law can be daunting, especially when dealing with the aftermath of a car accident. This law, also known as the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL), significantly influences how accident victims recover compensation for their injuries and damages from car crashes. Understanding its nuances is essential for anyone who drives in the Keystone State.
At May Herr & Grosh, our no fault accident lawyers in Lancaster, PA, believe in empowering you with knowledge. That is why we have put together this guide to help you understand what to do if you are involved in an accident in a no fault state like Pennsylvania. Our team of experienced car accident lawyers is committed to helping accident victims navigate the intricacies of the no fault system, ensuring they receive the financial compensation they need and deserve. Delve into the details of Pennsylvania’s no fault law and its implications for you as a driver or a passenger.
What Is Pennsylvania’s “No Fault” Law?
Pennsylvania’s no fault law is a system that requires drivers to carry their own insurance to cover medical expenses and other damages following a car accident, regardless of who was at fault for car accident injuries themselves. Understanding this law is crucial for any driver in the state.
How Does Pennsylvania’s No Fault Law Work?
Pennsylvania drivers must carry car insurance at all times because of the no fault law, but they can choose between two types of insurance coverage: full and limited. Each type of insurance claim has its own benefits and limitations as it applies to the law.
Limited Tort Coverage
- Less expensive: Limited tort is generally less expensive than full tort coverage, making it an attractive option for those looking to save on insurance costs.
- Restricted right to sue: With limited tort coverage, your right to sue for non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, is restricted unless you suffer serious injuries as defined by law.
- Serious personal injury claim exception: If your injuries meet the legal definition of “serious,” which typically includes significant and permanent loss of a body function, serious disfigurement, or death, you can step outside the no fault system and pursue a claim for all damages, including pain and suffering.
Full Tort Coverage
- More expensive: Full tort coverage typically comes with a higher insurance premium compared to limited tort coverage.
- Unrestricted right to sue: If you opt for full tort coverage, you retain the unrestricted right to sue the at-fault driver for economic (medical bills, lost wages) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering), regardless of the severity of your injuries.
- Greater compensation potential: While full tort coverage is more costly upfront, it could provide more significant compensation in an accident, especially if other drivers or you suffer significant injuries.
Pennsylvania stands as a “choice” no fault state, where drivers have the freedom to decide between no fault (limited tort) and traditional (full tort) insurance coverage based on their specific needs and circumstances. It is crucial to understand the implications of each choice to make an informed decision based on what you want from your insurance coverage in case of an accident.
What Happens to Drivers and Passengers After a Car Accident in PA?
In a no fault state like Pennsylvania, the aftermath of a car accident is handled differently than in states that operate under traditional fault-based systems. When an accident occurs, regardless of who is at fault, each driver’s insurance company initially covers their medical bills and lost wages up to their coverage limits. This stipulation means that as a driver, your own insurance policy is responsible for covering your damages from auto accidents, including medical expenses and property damage, irrespective of who caused the accident.
The situation is similar for passengers involved in a car accident in a no fault state. The insurance of the vehicle they were in at the time of the accident typically covers their medical expenses. This coverage extends to all passengers in the vehicle, ensuring their immediate medical needs are met without determining who was at fault in the accident. However, it is important to note that medical benefits and the ability to sue for additional damages, such as pain and suffering, can depend on the insurance policy’s specifics and the injuries’ severity.
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What Should You Do After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?
After a car accident, it is vital to seek immediate medical attention, even if your injuries seem minor. Then, file a police report to document the incident. Under the no fault system, you will file a claim with your insurance company for medical treatment expenses and property damage. After you have received the medical care you need, it is crucial to get in touch with a lawyer to ensure you are keeping track of all the details of your accident.
What Does Your Insurance Coverage Entail?
Your auto insurance policy includes personal injury protection (PIP), which covers medical expenses regardless of who was at fault. It may also include uninsured motorist coverage, bodily injury liability, and property damage. It is crucial to understand your coverage limits as they directly impact on your compensation.
How Do Insurance Companies Assess Car Accidents?
Insurance companies assess car accidents based on police reports, witness statements, and physical evidence. They then assign fault and determine the amount of compensation. Having an experienced personal injury attorney can be beneficial in dealing with insurance companies to ensure you receive fair compensation.
How Can You Seek Compensation for Damages?
Damages from auto accidents can include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and vehicle damage. You can seek compensation through your insurance company or by filing a personal injury lawsuit if your injuries are serious. An experienced car accident lawyer can guide you through this process.
When Should You File a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
Suppose an accident occurred and resulted in serious impairment, disfigurement, or death. In that case, you may be able to file a personal injury or wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. A personal injury attorney can help you navigate this process and potentially secure punitive damages in some instances.
Need Help with Pennsylvania’s No Fault Law After An Accident?
Pennsylvania’s no fault law has significant implications for car accident victims. You need to understand your rights and responsibilities under this law. Legal representation from an experienced Lancaster car accident lawyer can be invaluable in your car accident case, helping you navigate the complexities of this system.