The Choice of Fault vs. No-Fault Insurance in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is neither a “fault” state nor a “no-fault” state for auto insurance. Instead, it has a hybrid system where you can choose to use a no-fault insurance system or use a fault-based insurance system. This means that when you are involved in a car accident and need your injuries covered, it is up to your particular insurance plan whether you will be covered before or after showing fault.
Regardless, if your injuries are severe enough you may still have a case against the other driver or may be able to fight the insurance companies to cover your injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident in Pennsylvania, talk to the car accident attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm. Our car accident and personal injury attorneys in Philadelphia can help you get the compensation you need for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
No-Fault Auto Insurance in Pennsylvania
In states with fault insurance, you cannot recover anything until you prove who is at fault. This is because the only insurance company that pays for injuries is the at-fault driver’s insurance – your own insurance company will not pay for injuries you did not cause. It may work that your company pays you money right away, then is reimbursed later by the at-fault driver’s insurance, but this is still a slower, longer process. Ultimately when you are injured you might need money for injuries right away.
That is the goal of no-fault auto insurance. Many states decided that, rather than waiting for insurance companies and attorneys to decide who is at fault, people injured in car accidents should be paid immediately. This is what happens in no-fault states; rather than proving fault, your insurance company will always pay for your own injuries, up to a certain policy limit. In many no-fault states, insurance companies pay a few thousand dollars no matter who is at fault for the accident so that you can start receiving payments right away. This money is called “Personal Injury Protection,” or “PIP,” and it may also cover passengers in your car.
In a no-fault system, any injuries that are especially severe or require more than the PIP limit can still mean collecting from the at-fault driver’s insurance. Even in no-fault states, insurance plans often do not cover enough. Ultimately, the case still relies upon proving which party was at fault in order to get the maximum compensation available.
Pennsylvania’s system is a hybrid of these two systems. In PA, insurance companies are required to give you the choice to pay for a no-fault auto insurance, if you want it. In that case, your insurance will protect you no matter who is at-fault. Otherwise, you can pay only for fault-based insurance. Your choice may be hidden inside the choice between “full tort” or “limited tort” insurance and might not have the name “no-fault” insurance, but it is still part of your choice for insurance policies.
If you want more information about which options you should choose, talk to a car accident attorney today. Our lawyers offer free consultations and can help with this decision.
What do Fault and No-Fault Insurance Systems Cover?
Ultimately, the choice between fault and no-fault insurance only matter with regard to whether you want PIP or not. This is the main difference between the two types of insurance. PIP in a no-fault system will cover your injuries, even if you are at fault for the accident. Pennsylvania’s minimum option for PIP is $5,000, which means that you can be covered up to $5,000 worth of injury even if you are at fault for your accident. Since many serious injuries will reach far above this $5,000 minimum, choosing no-fault insurance might not help. This may be sufficient for less serious injuries, like whiplash, but will not cover catastrophic injuries.
PIP only covers you, or other people named on your insurance. Some policies may extend this to cover passengers in your car, as well. As its name implies, Personal Injury Protection acts to pay for personal injuries – not damage to your vehicle.
If your injuries are more severe than your PIP limit can afford or if you have a fault-based insurance policy, you will still need to prove the other driver is at fault to collect from their insurance company. Because of this, the coverage under either system is nearly equivalent for serious injuries. Because the risk of spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury are very high in severe car accidents, you may be entitled to very high compensation under either system.
In order to get this compensation, though, you need to prove the other driver is at fault. Since negotiating fault with insurance companies can be extremely difficult, it is in your best interest to hire an attorney to fight insurance companies and take your case to court.
Philadelphia Car Accident Injury Lawyers
At The Reiff Law Firm, our goal is to get you the compensation you need when you are injured in a car accident. No matter what type of insurance you have under Pennsylvania’s choice no-fault insurance system, we will work to fight insurance companies and get you the maximum insurance payout you deserve. If that is not enough, we may even fight your case in court. For a free consultation on your car accident case, call our attorneys today at (215) 246-9000.