Is Pennsylvania a “Fault” or “No-Fault” State?
Our experienced Pittsburgh attorneys know how to use the law for your benefit
The laws around “fault” and “no-fault” insurance are important after a car accident because they affect the size of your potential settlement. Those laws can be confusing for injured people to understand – and the insurance companies know it. They are experts at using the system to protect their bottom line, at your expense.
The experienced Pittsburgh car accident attorneys at Hal Waldman & Associates fight back. We have developed powerful strategies that hold negligent drivers accountable and make the insurance companies pay up. If you were injured in a crash in Pittsburgh or anywhere in Western Pennsylvania, contact us for a free case evaluation right now to learn more about your potential legal options.
Pennsylvania uses a “choice no-fault” car insurance system
While most U.S. states are either “fault” or “no-fault” states for car insurance, Pennsylvania uses an unusual hybrid system. When you purchase auto insurance in Pennsylvania, you can choose between “limited tort” and “full tort” insurance coverage. We discuss what that means in more detail below.
In addition, Pennsylvania drivers are required to carry no-fault medical benefits coverage, which pays for your medical expenses regardless of who caused the accident. The minimum amount of coverage is $5,000.
What does car accident compensation pay for?
There are two main types of damages you can seek compensation for in a crash:
- Economic damages. These are losses with objectively verifiable values like medical expenses, lost income, loss of household services like childcare or yard work, and property damage. You can always sue for these types of damages, no matter what kind of insurance you have.
- Non-economic damages. These are more subjective losses, like pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment in life, loss of guidance, and embarrassment. Your right to sue for non-economic damages in Pennsylvania varies depending on your insurance.
In rare cases where the at-fault driver has demonstrated gross negligence or recklessness, a court may award “punitive” damages on top of a victim's economic and non-economic damages.
Your choice of “full tort” or “limited tort” affects non-economic damages
Pennsylvania’s no-fault approach restricts when pain, suffering, and other non-economic damages can be sought in a crash. In this case, your rights are determined by the types of insurance you purchased: limited tort or full tort.
- Full Tort: Drivers with full tort insurance have the right to pursue compensation for both medical expenses and pain and suffering in the event of an accident. While this choice results in a somewhat higher premium, it offers greater protection.
- Limited Tort: Under limited tort, you can always sue for economic damages but only for non-economic damages if you have a “serious injury,” according to the state’s definition. The premium tends to be slightly lower, but this often is not worth the reduced protection.
What happens if you are partially at fault for an accident in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania uses a "modified comparative fault" rule in cases where the injured person is partially at fault. Responsibility is distributed among all parties involved in the crash, and compensation is adjusted based on the injured person’s percentage of fault. For instance, if you are 20% at fault and incur $100,000 in damages, your compensation would be adjusted to $80,000 (reflecting the 20% reduction). However, if you are 51% or more at fault, you cannot recover at all.
If there is any doubt about who caused the accident and what percentage of blame can be attributed to each party, our Pittsburgh car accident attorneys can argue on your behalf. We will review the insurance company’s settlement offer and negotiate.
Our Pittsburgh car accident attorneys ensure victims’ rights are protected
If you were injured or a loved one was killed in a Pittsburgh area car accident, contact us for a free case evaluation. A member of the Hal Waldman & Associates team can explain your options and answer your questions. And remember, our Western Pennsylvania personal injury law firm represents injured accident victims on a contingency basis. That means there is no upfront payment or out-of-pocket expense for our service. And if we don’t win, you don’t pay. Contact us to schedule your free case evaluation right now.