Before a motor vehicle owner is allowed to register a car or operate it on public roads, he or she must obtain mandatory insurance coverage. Pennsylvania has a complicated insurance system and is one of only 12 no-fault car accident states in the country. Working with a Pittsburgh car accident lawyer can help you understand how Pennsylvania’s auto insurance laws work can assist you through the process of what to do after a car accident.
Automobile Insurance Requirements for Drivers in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, all motor vehicle drivers are legally required to purchase and maintain at least the minimum amounts of automobile insurance. These requirements are currently:
- Bodily injury liability insurance per person: $15,000
- Bodily injury liability insurance per accident: $30,000
- Property damage liability coverage: $5,000
- First-party benefits: $5,000
Bodily injury liability insurance pays for the medical costs of those who suffer bodily injuries in a car accident. In many cases, funeral and burial expenses are covered, as well. Property damage insurance covers the cost of vehicle repairs for the other party. First-party benefits pay for the policyholder’s own medical bills.
Optional Coverage Is Available
Uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance automatically comes with new auto insurance policies in Pennsylvania, but it is not a requirement. This insurance pays for accidents caused by drivers who are illegally driving without insurance. If a policyholder wishes to reject this coverage, he or she must do so in writing.
If a driver in Pennsylvania wants greater financial protection in the event of a car accident, he or she can purchase additional (optional) types of coverage. For example, a driver can purchase collision, comprehensive, income loss or gap insurance. The penalties for driving without at least the required minimum amounts of car insurance in Pennsylvania are a minimum fine of $300, the suspension of your vehicle registration and the suspension of your driver’s license (along with restoration fees).
Pennsylvania Is a No-Fault State
First-party benefits insurance is required because Pennsylvania is a no-fault state. In a no-fault state, all motor vehicle drivers file claims with their own car insurance companies, regardless of who caused the wreck. In fault states, on the other hand, the person at fault for the car accident must pay for the crash. Both types of insurance systems have pros and cons for drivers. For example, in a no-fault state, the premiums are higher, but drivers don’t have to prove fault to qualify for benefits.
Pennsylvania’s Tort Insurance Options
All drivers in Pennsylvania have the option of purchasing full or limited tort insurance. Full tort insurance comes with a higher premium but allows a crash victim to sue another driver for pain and suffering after a car accident. The limited tort option restricts a driver’s right to sue for noneconomic damages only to accidents that result in permanent injuries, significant scarring or disfigurement, or wrongful death.
What Happens After a Car Accident With an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver?
If you find out that the other driver involved in your accident is illegally driving without the required amounts of car insurance in Pennsylvania, call the police to report the driver. Although you will most likely be filing a claim with your own car insurance company under the state’s no-fault law, it is still important to have the option of the other driver’s insurance should you have the right to file a lawsuit against him or her.
The police will ticket the driver and take away his or her driving privileges until the driver obtains car insurance. The police will also give you an accident report that you can use during your insurance claim. Next, call your car insurance company. Don’t answer any questions about your injuries until you’ve seen a doctor. Seek professional legal assistance from a Pittsburgh personal injury attorney before negotiating your claim with your car insurance company or the insurance provider of the other driver. Contact an attorney at Dallas W. Hartman for experienced legal help from a Pittsburgh car accident lawyer to ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.