Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance coverage can be confusing in Pennsylvania because of the state’s full and limited tort laws. To understand the PIP requirements and tort laws, it helps to understand the difference between an “at fault” insurance state and “fault” insurance state.
At Fault vs. Fault Insurance
Some states require drivers to carry liability insurance (fault insurance) to pay for damages from an accident that the driver causes. These states require that you prove a driver caused a collision before you can recover compensation from that driver.
Other states have adopted a no-fault insurance policy whereby drivers are required to purchase no-fault insurance (PIP or Med-Pay). No-fault insurance pays for damages in a car accident regardless of who caused the crash. In other words, if you are injured in a car crash, you file your claim with your own insurance company even if the other driver caused the crash. However, PIP coverage does not pay for all damages. In most cases, it only pays for some of your lost wages, and it does not cover pain and suffering damages.
Pennsylvania has a no-fault insurance policy, but it also allows drivers to choose between limited tort insurance policies and full tort insurance policies.
State Minimum Insurance Requirements for Pennsylvania
Drivers in Pennsylvania are required to carry both liability and PIP coverage. The minimum liability coverage is $15,000 in bodily injury coverage ($30,000 per incident) and $5,000 in property damage liability insurance. In addition, each driver must have $5,000 in PIP coverage.
If you are injured in an accident, you file your claim against your PIP coverage first. If your medical bills, lost wages, and other financial damages exceed the PIP coverage, you can file a claim against the driver who caused the accident. However, whether you can sue for pain and suffering damages depends on whether you choose full tort or limited tort coverage.
If you choose limited tort coverage, you cannot be sued for pain and suffering damages (noneconomic damages) for an accident you cause, BUT you cannot sue another driver for your pain and suffering damages either. The exceptions to this restriction are when an accident results in death, permanent serious disfigurement, or serious impairment of a bodily function.
However, if you chose full tort coverage, you can sue the driver who caused your crash regardless of the severity of your injuries. By choosing full tort, you also open yourself to lawsuits for accidents that you cause. Unfortunately, many people regret not choosing full tort when they are injured in an accident caused by another driver because pain and suffering damages can be a significant amount of a car accident settlement. In these cases, it comes down to proving that your injuries meet the threshold level for filing a lawsuit for pain and suffering.
Erie Car Accident Attorneys Can Help
If you are injured in a traffic accident, sorting out the insurance issues can be confusing and overwhelming. Our Erie accident attorneys can review the applicable coverage and advise you of your options for recovering compensation for your damages.
Call The Travis Law Firm at (800) 401-2066 to schedule a free legal consultation with one of our Erie accident attorneys.