After an auto accident, you want to hold the responsible party accountable. However, depending on your state’s insurance laws, you may not be able to.
Most states are either “fault” or “no fault” states. In a fault state, the driver that is considered to be at fault in an accident is responsible for paying for that accident. In a no fault state, each party involved in the accident is required to collect money from their own insurers, despite fault. Pennsylvania is one of only a few states that has “choice no fault” laws. This means that it is up to you whether you want no fault insurance or traditional insurance. You must decide this when you buy the insurance, not after you get into an accident.
If you choose traditional insurance, or “full tort,” you have the option of suing the other driving after an accident. But if you are at fault, the other driver can also sue you. If you choose no fault insurance, or “limited tort,” you cannot sue another driver after an accident unless it involved “serious injury,” according to Pennsylvania law.
The Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act describes a “serious injury” as one that results in death, serious impairment of body function or serious disfigurement. When determining if your injury is serious enough to qualify, the court will look at:
Your doctor’s assessment of the injury
- If the injury is permanent or chronic
- If surgery was necessary
- If scarring is visible
- Your range of motion
- The length of required treatment
- The injury’s impact on your daily life
- If the injury requires prescription medication
If you have limited tort insurance, you most likely will not be able to pursue damages from the other driver. However, if the court determines that you or a loved one has suffered from a serious injury, you may be eligible for compensation for lost wages and medical bills.
After an accident, an experienced personal injury attorney at Long & Long can protect your rights. We understand the complexities of Pennsylvania’s auto insurance laws and can help you understand whether or not you should pursue compensation.
Long & Long personal injury attorneys work diligently with clients from Westmoreland, Allegheny, Indiana, Jefferson and Fayette counties. Call us at 724.834.9300 or fill out this contact form to schedule a call back today.