If you’ve been injured in a car accident or another type of incident in Pennsylvania, it’s important to understand that Pennsylvania is considered a no-fault state. Regardless of who caused the accident, all parties must seek compensation from their own insurance policy.
Knowing how to get the compensation you need to recover from an accident is extremely important. That’s why the team at Morelli Law has decided to provide a guide to navigating fault laws and insurance claims after a personal injury incident in Pennsylvania.
The Difference Between Fault and No-Fault States
In a fault state, the injured party of an accident would seek compensation from the at-fault party’s insurance provider. Pennsylvania is one of 12 no-fault states, but its laws are slightly more complex than most.
Pennsylvania has what’s known as a “choice no-fault” law. That means people have the option to choose a no-fault or fault insurance policy.
Pennsylvania Drivers Can Choose a Fault or No-Fault Policy
When you sign up for an auto insurance policy in Pennsylvania, you can choose between a limited tort and a full tort policy. By choosing a limited tort policy, you opt-in to Pennsylvania’s no-fault system. Drivers who sign up for a full tort policy must proceed as if they’re in a fault state after a collision.
There are a few important differences between limited tort and full tort policies that can be helpful to understand if you’ve been in an accident. Make sure to take note of the following differences between the two types of policies:
Limited Tort (No-Fault) Policy
Drivers with limited tort insurance plans will most likely not be able to file a lawsuit after an accident. Instead, they can seek compensation from their own insurance policy. A successful limited tort policy claim can cover medical bills and lost wages but won’t allow policyholders to sue for damages like physical pain and mental distress.
Limited tort policyholders can sue the other party for serious injuries, though providers often define serious injuries as disfigurement and loss of life. Since limited tort policies don’t tend to cover non-economic losses, they are often less expensive than full tort policies.
Full Tort (Fault) Policy
Driver’s who choose a full tort insurance policy effectively opt out of Pennsylvania’s no-fault system. They’ll have fewer limitations than a limited tort policyholder and will likely be able to take the at-fault driver to court after a collision.
The state of Pennsylvania has one of the most complicated no-fault laws in the nation. If you have questions about your limited tort or full tort policy, an attorney can provide the answers you’re looking for. If a lawyer deems you eligible to take legal action, they can prepare your lawsuit and represent you in court.
An Attorney Can Help You Pursue Compensation From a Fault or No-Fault Policy
Even though Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, there are still situations where you’ll need the assistance of an attorney. A skilled lawyer can help limited tort policyholders negotiate a settlement with their insurance company and assist full tort policyholders in filing a lawsuit.
Whether you’ve opted into Pennsylvania’s no-fault system or not, there are a number of ways a lawyer can help you after a collision, such as:
Identify Your Losses
If you’ve been in an accident, it’s critical that you receive compensation for all of your losses. Working with an attorney can help you identify losses you might not have realized were compensable. Once a lawyer has calculated all the losses you’ve taken, they’ll work hard to ensure your compensation reflects the hardships and financial setbacks you’ve endured.
Pursue an Insurance Claim
Pursuing compensation from your insurance policy after an accident isn’t as simple as you’d expect. You’ll need to build a claim, file it with your provider, and negotiate a settlement that meets your needs. Most accident victims find this process too complicated, especially those who’ve suffered significant injuries.
Fortunately, a lawyer can take care of your entire claim. They’ll ensure it’s constructed correctly and filed with your insurance company promptly. If the insurance company denies your claim or doesn’t offer enough compensation, your lawyer can negotiate a payment that covers all of your compensable losses.
File a Lawsuit
If you’re a limited tort policyholder who has suffered serious injuries in a car accident or a full tort policyholder who needs to pursue legal action to recover compensation, an attorney can help you do so. Filing a lawsuit is a complicated process that requires a number of different steps, including:
- Collecting evidence such as police reports, witness statements, photos, footage, expert witness testimony, and other records.
- Analyzing evidence
- Establishing fault
- Meeting Pennsylvania’s filing deadline and other requirements
- Representing the plaintiff in court
These steps require the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney. Without a skilled lawyer, plaintiffs will likely have their cases thrown out.
Filing Deadline for Personal Injury Lawsuits in Pennsylvania
Even though Pennsylvania is considered a no-fault state, accident victims can still pursue a lawsuit under certain circumstances. If your insurance policy or injuries qualify you to take legal action against the party who caused your accident, you’ll have to adhere to the state’s filing deadline.
According to 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5524, you have two years from the date of your collision to submit a lawsuit. Failure to abide by the statute of limitations could prevent you from pursuing compensation and force you to cover all your accident-related losses out-of-pocket.
While there are exceptions to the state’s filing deadline, plaintiffs are rarely able to take advantage of them. Contact an attorney today to get your suit filed on time.
Our Lawyers Can Help You Further Understand Pennsylvania’s No-Fault State Laws
Although Pennsylvania is technically a no-fault state, its laws can be complicated and difficult to understand. To learn more about how the state’s laws apply to your claim, reach out to the attorneys at Morelli Law today. A representative from our firm will be happy to meet with you via a free consultation.
During your consultation, we’ll determine if you can file a claim or lawsuit. If we agree to take on your case, a personal injury lawyer from our team will answer any questions you have and represent your best interests in the negotiation process or the courtroom. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights.