If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you may be familiar with the term "serious injury." In certain states, you cannot file a personal injury claim to recover losses unless your injuries exceed the 'serious injury threshold.' In other words, you must have one or more of the listed injuries in order to file a claim against the driver at fault.
According to 75 PA CSA §1702, which defines terms pertaining to motor vehicle accident liability, a severe injury is one that results in the victim's death, serious impairment of bodily function, or permanent serious disfigurement.
Pennsylvania does have a severe injury threshold, but whether or not it applies depends in part on the type of auto insurance you or the driver carry. The definition of Pennsylvania's severe injury threshold may have significant implications for the amount of compensation you can recover after an accident. It is important that you speak with a PA car accident attorney if you have been involved in a car accident who can answer any questions that you may have about your accident and your injuries.
Pursuing Damages for Pain and Suffering in Pennsylvania
What defines serious injuries in a car accident is significant in Pennsylvania personal injury cases because victims with limited tort insurance must sustain a serious injury in order to pursue pain and suffering damages in car accident cases.
In Pennsylvania, drivers are required to possess personal injury protection (PIP) policies, which provide coverage for their own injuries in the event of an accident, regardless of who is at fault. However, it is also a hybrid state with two types of no-fault policies for drivers.
- Full tort: This type of coverage allows victims who were not at fault for the accident to seek compensation for all types of damages, including medical expenses, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
- Limited tort: While full tort allows victims to pursue all damages, limited tort eliminates the ability to file a lawsuit for pain and suffering unless the victim's condition has been deemed a serious injury.
A PA car accident lawyer can assist you in gathering the evidence necessary to establish that you sustained a serious injury due to another driver's negligence.
Examples of Injuries That Under Pennsylvania Law May Be Considered Serious
In addition to injuries that result in death, Pennsylvania considers two types of conditions to be serious under the law: those that severely impair bodily function and those that permanently disfigure the body.
The United States Department of Transportation defines a serious injury based on the definition of "suspected serious injury" contained in the Model Minimum Uniform Crash Criteria (MMUCC) guideline. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the following injuries qualify as serious injuries:
- Severe lacerations that result in exposed tissue, muscle, or bone or excessive blood loss
- Broken or distorted arms or legs
- Injuries that result from being crushed
- Skull, chest, or abdominal injuries beyond minor lacerations and bruises
- Second or third-degree burns that cover 10% or more of the body
- Unconsciousness at the scene of the accident
While federal law requires that these injuries be included in every state's definition of a severe injury, states have the discretion to include other conditions that they deem to be serious injuries in a PA car accident claim.
Permanent Serious Disfigurement
A catastrophic injury, as defined by Title 42 §3796b of the United States Code (USC), is one that prevents a victim from engaging in gainful employment in the future. Catastrophic injuries frequently result in permanent severe disfigurement. It occurs when an injury leaves the victim's body permanently and visibly injured, even after recovery. Examples of severe permanent disfigurement include:
- Extensive scarring
One of our Pennsylvania personal injury attorneys can assist you in determining whether your auto accident injury qualifies as serious and in pursuing financial compensation for your damages.
Car Accidents Frequently Result in Serious Injuries
In addition to long-term or permanent physical complications, victims of serious car accidents may be burdened with costly hospital expenses if they sustain severe injuries. If their condition prevents them from working, it may seem impossible for them to provide for themselves and their families, let alone pay off their medical debt. However, even those with limited tort coverage may be able to seek compensation for their injuries.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Lawyer Today at Brandon J. Broderick we are Ready to Help You
If you have suffered severe injuries as a result of an auto accident in Pennsylvania, contact Brandon J. Broderick. We are committed to assisting accident victims in claiming the compensation to which they are entitled, and we want to assist you as well. Call us immediately for a free consultation or reach out to us online so we can begin evaluating your case.