Pennsylvania accident law can be complicated, especially for new drivers. If you're trying to decide on an insurance policy for your car, you may not be fully aware of the legal ramifications of your decision. Before you opt for a traditional or no-fault insurance policy, it's important to click here examine how your choice could affect the reimbursement you receive after an accident.
What Is "Choice No-Fault"?
Pennsylvania's accident law handles cases with a choice no-fault policy. Essentially, this policy means that your choice of insurance determines how the accident is legally handled, and that fault is not automatically ascribed to any party in an accident.
Drivers can opt for a no-fault coverage plan which reimburses them in the event of an accident, even if they were responsible. However, drivers who opt for such a policy give up the right to sue the other driver for damages, even damages that exceed policy limits, except in special cases such as serious disfigurement or permanent injury.
In contrast, opting for a traditional policy may allow you to recoup all damages after an accident that are not paid by your insurance company. Drivers should be careful how they handle damages in such cases, however, since filing a suit for damages could result in a counter-suit if the judge or insurance company finds you mostly or fully at fault for the accident.
Which Policy Best Ensures You'll Be Compensated?
Whether you're in a minor fender-bender or a life-threatening collision, you want to know that your damages can be recouped and life can continue as normal. However, both policy options offer you difference outcomes, so it's important to carefully consider which will protect you the most.
No-fault policies offer some amount of compensation for every accident, even if you're at fault or the other driver would be unable to pay for damages. The big drawback with such a policy is that the limit imposed by your insurance company may be far lower than the amount you actually need to repair your car or pay medical bills. Pennsylvania law only requires an insurance company to offer $35,000 in coverage, including only $5,000 for no-fault accidents.
In contrast a traditional policy only fully covers you when you aren't at fault for the accident, but may offer some compensation for at-fault drivers as well. The bonus for choosing a traditional policy is that you can potentially seek the full amount of your damages from the at-fault party and get your life back to normal with medical bills fully paid and car damage fully repaired. Traditional policies also allow you to sue for damages that a no-fault policy would not compensate, such as pain and suffering.
Unfortunately, this process can be difficult without a good lawyer, and may take much more time than settling for a flat no-fault policy's reimbursement. While many drivers feel the effort is worthwhile for the return, others cannot afford to spend time in court or waiting for a compensation ruling.
Does Insurance Type Affect Non-Injury Damages?
Yes and no. Whether you choose to take out a no-fault insurance policy or stick with a more traditional one, you will still have the ability to seek damages that go over your policy limits. When you take the other party to court, the judge will examine the comparative negligence of you and the other party, and you'll either be awarded damages based on the other party's negligence or ruled at-fault for the accident.
If you opt for a traditional policy, the insurance company will asses fault independently before you go to court, and this may have a bearing on your case. For example, if your insurance company decides you are at fault, the other party may use this as leverage to convince a judge that you are responsible for your own damages. With a no-fault policy, the insurance adjusters do not make decisions about fault at all, and it's left entirely up the the judge.
Before you sign up for an insurance policy, you might want to talk to a qualified accident attorney about how your choice of policy can affect potential accident cases. With expert legal counsel, you'll be more likely to see the money you need if you ever get hurt or suffer damages to your property.