Car Accidents and Insurance Coverage
The moments after you’ve been injured in a car accident can be the scariest of your life. Your first concern will be getting treatment for your injuries or your loved ones. Then, you will have to deal with your auto insurance.
You’ll want to be prepared on what kind of car and personal injury insurance you have, and what to do when insurance companies come calling. In Pennsylvania, insurance companies are trained to limit the liability they will pay. It’s important you have the representation on your side to fight for what you deserve.
Just last year, almost 300,000 Pennsylvanians crashed, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation‘s (PennDOT) annual Crash Facts and Statistics Report. The lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have been representing car accident victims across Pennsylvania for more than 60 years. They are the experts who will review your case, including all necessary details and documentation, and fight for what you deserve.
What Kind of Car Insurance You Have Matters – Full vs. Limited Tort
In Pennsylvania, you have a choice to make when signing up for car insurance: Do you want limited tort or full tort? A Tort is an act that causes suffering or harm that then allows the , at-fault party to be held legally liable. What that means for the insurance you have:
- Full Tort: You are able to sue the at-fault driver for damages, including medical bills and pain and suffering. As with limited tort, the other driver’s insurance should cover your medical bills, but full tort allows for you to get what you are owed when it comes to pain and suffering. Full tort insurance usually has a higher premium, but it means you will be able to fully recover financially for long-term injuries should you be in a car accident.
- Limited Tort: If you have limited tort, you may only sue the at-fault party for the cost of your medical bills, but not for pain and suffering (pain and suffering often make up the bulk of a personal injury case). However, there are some exceptions. Under any of the below circumstances, you would be given the benefits of full tort:
- If you are hit by a drunk driver
- If you are a pedestrian who was hit by a vehicle
- If the defendant’s vehicle is registered out of state
- If you were riding in a commercial vehicle
- If you were riding with a resident relative or spouse who has full tort and you were injured as a passenger in their vehicle
- If the defendant is uninsured
- If your accident resulted in death, permanent severe impairment of a bodily function, or disfigurement
PIP Coverage in Pennsylvania Car Accidents
Every automobile driver in Pennsylvania is required to have some level of Personal Injury Protection (PIP). Pennsylvania is a no-fault state, which means you will be able to use your PIP coverage regardless of who causes a car accident. Your PIP insurance will help you recover medical costs and lost wages.
When you sign up for auto insurance in Pennsylvania, the minimum PIP you must have is:
- $5,000 medical benefits
- $5,000 property damage
- $15,000 per person/$30,000 per accident bodily injury liability
If you are injured in a car accident in Pennsylvania, your PIP will automatically kick in. If the accident is not your fault, the at-fault party will be responsible for any amount above what your PIP covers. So if you’re in a car accident, your PIP will cover the first $5,000 in medical bills, and the at-fault insurance company would cover the amount exceeding that.
While these are the minimum amounts you are required, some will choose to buy added protection. If you are injured severely in a car accident in Pennsylvania, it’s unlikely these small minimum amounts would cover everything you need to recover.
What is uninsured & underinsured motorist coverage?
Adding uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to your auto insurance policy can protect you financially and save you a lot of headaches in the event of an accident. Uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is usually broken into two categories, uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage and uninsured motorist property damage coverage.
- Uninsured motorist insurance (UM) protects you if you’re in an accident with an at-fault driver, and that driver does not have liability insurance. It also protects you if the at-fault driver is an unknown motorist who flees the scene of an accident. Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage will pay for the costs of your injuries up to your policy limits in cases of hit and run accidents.
- Underinsured motorist insurance (UIM) helps to compensate for when the at-fault driver’s liability limit is too low. The insurance coverage is insufficient to meet the cost of all of the damages and medical bills you’ve sustained in the accident. Although many drivers do carry insurance, many fail to carry enough to cover a serious injury claim.
By adding this coverage, your own insurance will pay for all recoverable damages up to your policy’s limits. If you don’t have this coverage, you would need to sue the at-fault driver to recover your damages. In most cases, if they are uninsured, they do not have the assets for you to recover.
What to Do When Insurance Companies Call You
After you’ve been injured in a car accident, it’s important to know the next steps to ensure you are safe and able to recover damages. It can be a scary moment, especially if you have loved ones in the car with you. While you should call your insurance company immediately to file a claim, you should not speak to anyone else, most importantly the insurance company of the other driver. If you or a loved one has sustained injuries in the accident, it’s critical you speak to a lawyer first.
Insurance adjusters are trained to limit the liability their company owes you. They will often take advantage of you by:
- Offering a low settlement quickly. If an insurance company calls you immediately offering money, that means you likely have a bigger case. They want to get to you before you have a lawyer. Don’t offer a statement. Instead, refer them to your attorney.
- Questioning your injuries. If you have been injured, insurance adjusters will find ways to make it seem like the car accident did not cause those injuries, relieving them of liability to provide reimbursement for medical bills.
- Blaming you. It’s in the insurance adjusters best interest to make it look like you were at-fault for the accident. Even in cases where fault might seem clear, the insurance companies can ask questions and frame things to look differently. It’s important they only speak to your legal representation.
Why You Should Hire a Car Accident Attorney
Regardless of what coverage you have, many insurance companies in Pennsylvania are trained to deny your car accident claim. Also, if you do not know your rights as a victim of a car accident, the insurance companies can take advantage of your ignorance and underpay you.
You need an experienced car accident lawyer who understands how auto crash compensation claims work. At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, every lawyer on our team has the experience and skills to get you your compensation. If you want to win, you need a lawyer who is willing to fight for you and get you the settlement you deserve.
Contact Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys today at 844-792-2582 for a free consultation.