For the majority of states in the U.S., the driver at fault in an accident is legally responsible for paying any (and all) expenses that are incurred including medical, personal injury and property damage.
Pennsylvania, however, is one of a handful of states that is considered a “no-fault” state, which means each party involved in an accident collects compensation for lost wages and medical bills directly from their own insurance companies, regardless of who is at fault.
The laws that apply to auto insurance coverage in Pennsylvania are admittedly a bit more complex than most. In fact, Pennsylvania is one of an even smaller group of states that are considered “choice no-fault” states. This means drivers purchasing or renewing auto insurance coverage have the option to choose either full tort or limited tort coverage (essentially a choice between limited right to sue or full right to sue).
By selecting limited tort, drivers are essentially choosing the limitations of the no-fault system and in most cases, will not be able to sue the other party for compensation following an accident. Instead, they will file a claim with their own insurance provider, even if they were not at fault. That claim may cover medical bills and lost wages; however, it does not allow the injured party to seek compensation for pain and suffering or emotional distress, except in circumstances that meet very specific criteria.
Many people choose limited tort because of the slightly lower cost of their premiums. The cost variation (typically little more than the cost of a cup of coffee per day) pales in comparison to the trade-off in what you can lose by selecting limited tort.
Under the no-fault system, insurance companies are only responsible to pay the maximum personal injury protection (PIP) limit outlined in your policy. If you chose limited tort on your policy, you are limiting your rights to seek compensation for additional damages as well as emotional distress and pain and suffering when you are injured as a result of another’s negligence. Choosing full tort helps ensure you are protected.
Understanding your insurance policy is vitally important to ensure you are covered in the event of an accident. Remember, the choices you make related to your coverage have an impact on your right to compensation following an accident.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident, reach out to the accident and personal injury attorneys at Dale E. Anstine. Get a specialized attorney on your side who has a full understanding of insurance policies and coverages to know what you may be facing in court. With offices in York and Gettysburg, our team is proud to protect the injured across the Central Pennsylvania community. Consultations are always free, we’re available 24/7 and there’s no fee unless we win for you.