Mandatory Insurance Considerations For Pennsylvania Motorists

The first and foremost priority of the experienced personal injury attorneys at Powell Law is helping our clients completely recover their losses for the harm caused by others. If you require legal counsel and assistance in litigating a claim for damages resulting from an accident, contact Powell Law.

As most Pennsylvania residents know, if you operate a vehicle in Pennsylvania, you must have automobile insurance. Certain types and limits of insurance are mandatory, while other types of coverage are optional. The required coverages are as follows:

  • Bodily Injury:  This coverage pays medical expenses and any damages for which a motorist is at fault. The minimum limit is $15,000/ $30,000. The $15,000 pays for injuries to one person, while the $30,000 represents the total for more than one person for one accident.
  • Property Damage:  This coverage is self-explanatory. It pays for property damage in an accident. The minimum limit for this type of coverage is $5,000.
  • PIP or Medical Benefits:  This is also called personal injury protection in many states. It pays medical expenses for a named insured and others who are covered by a policy, regardless of fault. The minimum limit is $5,000 of coverage.

It is also acceptable for a Pennsylvania motorist to carry a combined single limit of $35,000 to cover both bodily injury and property damage in order to meet legal minimum requirements.

In 1990, Pennsylvania lawmakers enacted a unique system hoping to reduce automobile insurance premium costs. As a result, all Pennsylvania drivers are given the choice of selecting either limited tort or full tort insurance on their private passenger motor vehicle insurance policies.

Similarly, both limited tort and full tort policies entitle a person to recover economic losses such as lost wages or unpaid medical bills regardless of the degree of injury.

But here is where the two differ: A full tort policy allows a person to recover noneconomic damages for pain and suffering, regardless of the injury’s severity. If a person selects a limited tort policy, he may only recover noneconomic damages for pain and suffering if that person suffers a serious injury. Pennsylvania law defines a “serious injury” as a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of a body function, or permanent serious disfigurement.

Injuries that commonly meet the definition of “serious injury” include the following:

  • Injuries involving major surgery
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
  • Paralysis
  • Amputation
  • Loss of sight
  • Loss of hearing

The following six exceptions (in addition to “serious injury”) allow drivers with limited tort policies to collect noneconomic damages for pain and suffering:

  • The at-fault driver is convicted for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  • The at-fault driver was driving a vehicle registered in another state;
  • The at-fault-driver intended to hurt himself (or others);
  • The injured person was a pedestrian;
  • Injuries are the result of a defect in a vehicle’s design, manufacturing, repair or maintenance;
  • The injured person is hurt while a passenger in a vehicle other than a private passenger vehicle (e.g., public bus, commercial truck, shuttle, etc.)

Determining whether an insured with a limited tort policy qualifies for an exception under Pennsylvania law, thus allowing the recovery of noneconomic damages, may be crucial in a personal injury case. Powell Law’s attorneys have unmatched experience assisting individuals who have suffered damages caused by the negligence of others, especially motorists. At Powell Law, it is our goal to protect and assert our clients’ rights effectively. Powell Law has an established 113-year-old reputation throughout northeastern Pennsylvania. Contact Powell Law at (570) 961-0777. The consultation is FREE, and you don’t pay unless we win!

Mandatory Insurance Considerations For Pennsylvania Motorists

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