Pennsylvania uses a variation of "no-fault" auto insurance that is somewhat unique. Under no-fault, regardless of who caused the accident, your own auto insurance coverage pays for medical treatment and other out-of-pocket losses incurred by anyone covered under the policy, up to the policy's limits. In order to file a third-party insurance claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver outside of the no-fault system, your injuries must meet certain thresholds established by state law.
Pennsylvania's no-fault system is relatively unique in that vehicle owners can "opt out" of the system when purchasing auto insurance. Pennsylvania Statutes Title 75, Section 1705, requires insurance companies to inform customers of their coverage options when opting in or out.
In Pennsylvania, you must maintain a minimum amount of car insurance coverage on any vehicle you own and operate.
- Pennsylvania is one of approximately a dozen states with a no-fault car insurance system.
- When purchasing car insurance in Pennsylvania, drivers must choose between "limited tort" and "full tort" coverage.
- Driving without Pennsylvania's required minimum car insurance could expose you to a number of penalties and significant financial risk.
It is common for Pennsylvania's no-fault insurance laws to cause confusion. Those injured in a motor vehicle collision are frequently unaware of the compensation to which they are entitled. If you have further questions or need help filing a claim, please contact Brandon J. Broderick for a free consultation today.
Pennsylvania's Limited Tort vs. Full Tort Coverage
As its title suggests, "Limited Tort" coverage limits your right (and the right of family/household members and anyone else covered under your policy) to receive financial compensation for injuries and other losses sustained in a car accident caused by another driver.
Under this option, a claimant may seek compensation for all medical expenses and other out-of-pocket losses incurred as a result of the accident, but not for pain and suffering or other non monetary losses, unless the car accident injuries qualify as "serious," which typically involves more than a soft tissue injury. Even head injuries that are relatively minor may not qualify. According to recent Pennsylvania court decisions, "serious injury" typically requires serious impairment of a body function or permanent and serious disfigurement. Pennsylvania Statutes, Title 75, Section 1705, contains the specifics.
"Full Tort'' coverage, which is more expensive, provides you and your covered family/household members with unrestricted rights to financial compensation for injuries and other losses resulting from an auto accident caused by another driver. Even if your injuries do not qualify as "serious" under the statutory definition, you may recover for all medical treatment and other out-of-pocket losses, as well as for pain and suffering and other non monetary losses resulting from the accident.
It is important to note that Pennsylvania's no-fault auto insurance system applies only to injuries resulting from auto accidents and not to claims for vehicle damage. A claim for vehicle damage (or total loss) can be filed against the at-fault driver without limitation.
Minimum Coverage Requirements for Car Insurance in Pennsylvania
To operate a motor vehicle in Pennsylvania, vehicle owners must carry the following minimum insurance coverage:
- $5,000 in "medical benefits" coverage, which pays your medical bills (or the medical bills of anyone else covered by your policy) following an accident, regardless of who was at fault.
- $15,000 for bodily injury liability per injured person (when you cause an accident)
- $30,000 in total bodily injury liability per accident (when at fault) and
- $5,000 per occurrence coverage for property damage (when you are at fault).
Pennsylvania also recognizes certain all-purpose auto insurance policies with a minimum total coverage of $35,000.
Keep in mind that if you are found liable for causing a car accident and the injured drivers' and/or passengers' losses exceed the limits of your auto insurance policy (which is not an improbable scenario if you've only met Pennsylvania's minimum coverage requirements), you may be required to make up the difference from your own assets.
What Are the Penalties in Pennsylvania for Driving Without Car Insurance?
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles, drivers caught without the required liability insurance face the following penalties:
- A minimum $300 fine
- Suspension of vehicle registration and/or driver's license for three months
- Restoration fees for vehicle registration and/or driver's license reinstatement
- Vehicle use restrictions
If you are driving without insurance and cause a car accident, these penalties may seem insignificant compared to the financial damage you could incur.
Contact Brandon J. Broderick if you have questions about Pennsylvania's no-fault auto insurance or if you have been injured in a car accident in Pennsylvania
It is not uncommon for Pennsylvania's no-fault laws to cause confusion. Those who are injured in a car accident are frequently unaware of the compensation to which they are entitled. You need not feel defeated by Pennsylvania's no-fault insurance laws. Contact Brandon J. Broderick for a complimentary consultation today. We're prepared to help you with your Pennsylvania personal injury claim and to discuss all available options that you might have to recover compensation for your injuries.