If you’ve been hurt in a car wreck, you will need some way to recoup any owed damages so you can stay on your feet financially during and after your physical recovery. However, Pennsylvania’s insurance options are different from many other states and are often confusing. That’s one reason it’s important to have an experienced car accident attorney to help you navigate your plan and handle negotiations with insurance adjusters.
Understanding No-Fault Insurance Options in Pennsylvania
Insurance providers are required by law to explain your coverage options before you buy a plan. Typically, in Pennsylvania, that means choosing between full tort and limited tort insurance. Within those plans there may be a no-fault option, which means you can recover certain costs for medical care no matter who caused the accident.
A personal injury protection (PIP) feature included in your policy can offer immediate monetary coverage that you desperately need after sustaining an injury. Depending on your policy’s specifics, it may also cover other injured passengers in the vehicle.
That makes no-fault insurance a good idea to have on hand, as you can start receiving the payments you need quickly if you can’t go back to work yet. This type of insurance frequently doesn’t cover the full costs of medical care, however. If you suffered from something like a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, or an amputation due to the crash, the total cost of your care is likely to be well over policy limits.
What’s the Difference Between Full Tort and Limited Tort in Pennsylvania?
Limited tort plans usually cost less, but they also typically prevent you from suing the liable party over anything other than direct medical costs. The good news is that even if you picked limited tort insurance that doesn’t have a no-fault personal injury protection clause, you may still be able to recover additional damages.
In cases of grievous bodily harm, you can still potentially acquire all the legal rights of full tort coverage, and that’s true even if you specifically have a limited tort plan.
In Pennsylvania, you have the option to “opt-out” of the no-fault system and instead pursue a settlement or court judgement directly against the person responsible for your injury. Opting out specifically gives you the opportunity to file a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party for more than just your hospital stays or surgical costs.
Why does that matter? Having this option available is extremely important if you need to recover damages from your injury not covered under limited tort insurance, like non-economic damages. In this instance, “non-economic” typically means physical pain and emotional suffering stemming from the accident, which may be severe. That can also cover things like embarrassment from disfiguring injuries and overall loss in quality of life.
The ability to file a lawsuit can also be extremely important if the insurance policy in question has a cap on damages. Any maximum cap on coverage is very likely to be well below the actual final cost of your treatment and lost income.
To utilize this loophole and receive full tort coverage, you need to prove your injury meets the standard of being “serious.” But, what does that actually mean? Typically, the courts decide an injury meets the serious threshold if it results in some kind of major impairment to a normal body function. A car crash injury often also meets the requirement if it results in permanent disfigurement or disability.
These intricacies of Pennsylvania insurance law are a major factor in why you need an attorney on your side. Your legal counsel can gather all the necessary evidence to prove who caused the accident, and provide evidence that your injury meets the threshold of serious harm.
Talk to an Attorney Quickly After Any Car Crash With Serious Injuries
Even if your particular insurance plan or the at-fault driver's insurance policy doesn’t appear to cover your medical bills, you should still contact an attorney. You may be able to use the serious injury loophole to recover damages. That’s why the most important step following a serious car crash (other than seeing the doctor) is to contact a qualified personal injury attorney. Give the Heslin Law Firm a call to discuss your case at 215-332-0300 or get in touch online here instead.