When it comes to auto accidents and car insurance, Pennsylvania’s laws are extremely complicated.
Drivers here have a lot of options for insuring themselves and their property. That makes selecting the right auto insurance important.
Without the right insurance, you and your family may not be able to recover fair compensation, even if the other driver is at fault.
This surprises many who consult our law firm when they learn inadequate car insurance can limit their financial recoveries.
Unfortunately, Pennsylvania law allows drivers to carry liability insurance as low as $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident.
Liability insurance protects at-fault drivers if they are sued for causing injuries and damages as a result of a car accident. Many of these drivers have few to no recoverable assets. That is the reason they buy the smallest amount of insurance coverage.
But when underinsured drivers cause serious injuries, they are unable to compensate the victims. Insurance companies only pay the amount of liability coverage the at-fault driver had bought.
To make matters worse, 1 in 13 Pennsylvania drivers do not have any car insurance. If you are hit and injured by such an uninsured driver, you may recover nothing from them.
Pennsylvania’s No Fault Car Insurance
Most drivers do not realize that Pennsylvania law has No-Fault car insurance. Twelve states in our country use a no-fault car insurance system. (Thirteen if you count the District of Columbia!)
In a no-fault state, if you are injured in a car accident, your insurance handles medical bills, even if the other driver was 100% at fault.
No-fault laws require every driver to carry a $5,000 minimum in medical coverage. But that amount is inadequate in an accident involving serious injuries.
We strongly recommend buying at least $100,000 in medical coverage, even if you have good health insurance. This ensures that medical bills will be paid after most accidents.
If you carry minimal medical coverage and your bills go to your health insurance, many health plans can pursue reimbursement (called subrogation in the law) once those benefits are used up.
In contrast, your car insurance company is not allowed by law to be reimbursed for medical payments it makes from the coverage on your policy.
Other important No-fault benefits include income loss benefits and uninsured and underinsured motorist benefits.
Every working Pennsylvania driver should carry these benefits on their insurance policy. Income loss benefits pay an victim 80 percent of gross lost wages while they recover from an accident related injury.
If you do not have income loss benefits on your policy, you may be facing months of no income during your recovery. The other driver’s insurance will not pay your income loss until a final settlement is reached. That settlement can take months or years.
Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance are important coverages which every Pennsylvania driver should have. You should carry at least $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident in uninsured motorist coverage on your policy.
This coverage lets you pursue compensation from your insurance company for damages caused by injuries even if the person who caused the accident doesn’t have insurance.
For example, if your injuries cost $200,000 and the at-fault driver has the minimum liability insurance of $15,000, you can accept that $15,000 and pursue an underinsured motorist claim for the additional $185,000.
If you and family have more than one vehicle, you can also select “stacked coverage.” That enables you to multiply your uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage by the number of vehicles insured under that policy.
Let’s say you have $100,000 in underinsured motorist coverage and have three vehicles on your auto policy. With “stacked coverage,” you can recover up to $300,000 in extra compensation for injuries and damages if they are valued at $300,000 above the amount you recovered from the at fault party.
Limited or Full Tort Car Insurance
Since 1990, Pennsylvania has had a two tort system of law for auto accidents. When you buy car insurance, you chose between “Limited Tort” or “Full Tort” insurance. Your choice will have major implications on your legal rights.
If you chose “Limited Tort” insurance, you pay less in premiums, but it may limit your ability to recover noneconomic damages.
With “Limited Tort” coverage, you need to prove you suffered a serious injury from an accident. Pennsylvania law defines a serious injury as death, serious impairment, or permanent serious disfigurement.
Even if you meet the state’s definition of “serious injury,” you are only recovering economic damages like lost income or unpaid medical bills.
If you chose “Full Tort” insurance, which all good personal injury lawyers recommend, you can pursue a claim for noneconomic damages for any injury suffered from the car accident.
There are exceptions to the law allowing a person with “Limited Tort” insurance to pursue a viable personal injury claim. Some exceptions are if the accident is caused by an out-of-state driver, if the at-fault driver is drunk or under the influence of drugs and is convicted of that offense, or if the injured party is a pedestrian.
Talk to a Central Pennsylvania Auto Accident Lawyer Today
Figuring out insurance claims after a car crash is complicated, especially here in Pennsylvania.
Be careful about what you say to an insurance company representative. Do not give them a recorded statement until you have talked to us first.
The insurance companies do not represent you. They often take actions which are not your best interest. That could lead to an unfavorable settlement for you.
Hiring an experienced injury attorney ensures all is done to present your case so you receive the settlement you deserve.
At Hagelgans & Veronis, we do not charge for initial consultations or any of our services until we get a favorable settlement or judgment on your case.
Our talented legal professionals have over 100 years of experience and strategy. We’d like to use that to get you the settlement you need. We offer compassionate and personal representation and have an unsurpassed track record in Central Pennsylvania. Please contact us immediately before applicable time limits for your claim expires.