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Is Pennsylvania a “No Fault” Accident State?

By: Anapol Weiss

Pennsylvania is one of 12 states who utilize ‘no fault’ accident system. Within this system, they are one of the select few who employ “choice no fault,” in which a driver can essentially “opt out” of no-fault insurance. For more information on your specific case, speak to a car accident lawyer in Philadelphia.

What is a “Choice No Fault” System?

In a choice no fault state, Pennsylvania drivers have the option of purchasing full tort or limited tort insurance. Drivers will also rely on their own personal injury protection (PIP) policy in addition to their full or limited tort insurance to cover their medical expenses and lost wages regardless of who is at fault in the accident.

Personal Injury Protection insurance is required of all Pennsylvania drivers. Regardless of who is at fault, your insurance company will help pay for your medical bills according to the personal injury protection (PIP) amount you’ve purchased.

Limited Tort vs. Full Tort

If you opt for limited tort insurance, that means you are choosing the ‘no fault’ rules which state that you are responsible for filing a claim with your own insurance after getting into a car accident regardless of who is at fault. Limited tort is less expensive, has lower premium payments and significantly reduces the strenuous process of filing a claim against another driver’s insurance.

With limited tort coverage, your insurance policy will compensate you for personal injury medical bills and lost wages but restricts you from recovering money for pain and suffering from the alternate party. In serious cases if certain criteria are met, you can file a lawsuit against the other driver to recover compensation for non-monetary damages. This exception is if there is serious injury such as disfigurement or disability that occurs after an accident. You are able to sue the alternate party for lost wages, property damage and medical bills.

The full tort option is more expensive but less restrictive when it comes to recovering compensation. If you decide to get full tort coverage, that means you are able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover compensation for pain and suffering as well as other non-monetary damages. You are allowed to sue the other driver for pain and suffering regardless of how severe your injuries are. Unlike limited tort, you do not need to prove that your pain and suffering were severe in order to recover money from the at-fault driver. The main difference between the two tort options is the restriction in lawsuits.

With full tort insurance, you are able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for pain and suffering in addition to damages. If you decide to go with limited tort, you are only able to file a lawsuit to recover compensation for severe injuries and out-of-pocket expenses.

Minimum Insurance Requirements

In Pennsylvania, there are minimum insurance requirements that each driver must purchase when driving on the roads.

  1. Bodily Injury: $15,000 per person / $30,000 per accident
  2. First Party Benefits (PIP medical coverage): $5,000
  3. Property Damage: $5,000 (covered by the person who is at fault)

The goal of being a ‘no fault’ state is to avoid wasting time and money in small claims court. This way, if someone suffers a minor personal injury after an accident, each person’s PIP insurance will be responsible for covering their medical expenses instead of arguing over who is at fault with another driver and their insurance. This way each person receives medical attention quicker and without argument of who is at fault and for how much.

If you choose to opt out of ‘no fault’ insurance and pay for full tort, you will still be required to have PIP insurance, but you will be able to file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver to recover damages both monetary and non-monetary.