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When Can No-Fault Policyholders Sue for a Car Accident in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania auto insurance law is part fault-based and part no-fault. Minor accidents are resolved on a no-fault basis, but consumers have different options to sue, depending on whether they have a limited tort or full tort policy. Here’s how a typical injury accident works:

  • The injured party files a claim with his or her own insurer for medical expenses and loss of income. The statutory minimum for this no-fault coverage is $5,000, but the policyholder may have purchased more.
  • If the injured party’s economic losses exceed the limits of his own policy, he can file a claim against an at-fault driver’s liability coverage. The statutory minimum for liability coverage is $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident.
  • If the injured party’s economic losses exceed the limits of his own no-fault and the at-fault driver’s liability coverage, he can file a claim under his own policy’s underinsured motorist provision, if he has purchased this coverage.

However, these benefits are only for economic damages and do not compensate the injured party for pain and suffering, and other noneconomic losses. The injured party can only obtain these damages in a personal injury lawsuit, but the right to sue is limited by the type of insurance company the victim has:

  • Full tort coverage — The policyholder is entitled to sue in court for pain and suffering compensation for all injuries.
  • Limited tort coverage — The policyholder may only sue in court for pain and suffering compensation for a “serious injury.” A serious injury is one that causes “death, serious impairment of bodily function, or permanent, serious disfigurement.”

Limited tort coverage costs less than full tort coverage, but injured parties often regret opting for immediate savings. It is very possible to suffer what you and your doctor consider a serious injury and have the court rule against you. That could mean losing thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in damages because you didn’t have the right kind of policy. So, unless you want to be stopped at the courthouse steps, we recommend purchasing full tort coverage.

If you have questions about your right to recover for an auto accident, contact Rudberg Law Offices, LLC to schedule a free consultation.

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