Car accidents are unfortunately much more common than one might think. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, in 2020 there were 104,475 reportable traffic crashes in Pennsylvania. This means that roughly one in every 57 Pennsylvania residents was involved in a reportable accident.
If you or a loved one was involved in a crash, you may benefit from seeking out an experienced car accident lawyer. The car accident attorneys at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys can help. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss the specifics of your case.
Minimum Car Accident Insurance Required in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania law requires motorists to have both a drivers’ license and vehicle liability insurance before getting behind the wheel, according to Pennsylvania DOT Driver & Vehicle Services. Vehicle liability insurance covers medical expenses, lost wages, and any other damages that occur from vehicle-related injuries. More specifically, Pennsylvania law requires a minimum level of coverage, which includes the below.
- $15,000 for bodily injury or death per person in a single accident
- $30,000 for bodily injury or death in total for a single accident
- $5,000 for property damage per accident
If you are apprehended for driving without this coverage, the Pennsylvania DMV outlines that you will face the following penalties.
- A minimum fine of $300 for driving uninsured
- A three month suspension of both your vehicle registration and your drivers’ license
- Fees to restore your license and registration
While these penalties are relatively minor, driving uninsured could have much more serious ramifications in terms of liability and your ability to collect compensation.
Fault and No Fault States
The majority of US states are “fault” states, meaning that the driver who is at fault for the accident is legally responsible for covering all damages. Pennsylvania, on the other hand, is a “no fault” state, which means that each party involved in an accident must file their damages claims to their own respective insurance providers. This takes a little bit of pressure off of those who drive without the proper vehicle insurance, since drivers who are at fault may not be liable for all total damages. Unfortunately, though, uninsured drivers will still be vulnerable, as they will have to pay for their own medical expenses and property damage out of pocket. So even with no-fault laws, the consequences of driving without the proper vehicle insurance can still be serious.
To make matters more complicated, Pennsylvania has a special type of “no fault” laws that actually allow drivers to choose between the fault and no fault systems. Drivers make this decision when they select their insurance plans. Insurance holders are offered two levels of coverage, each with their own varying level of liability and fault. Drivers can choose between full and limited tort options.
If you select a limited tort option, you are essentially choosing the “no fault” system, and in most cases, you will not be able to file a lawsuit against another party for compensation. Limited tort insurance holders will instead have to file their claim with their insurance provider, who will likely cover their medical bills and lost wages. There are a number of restrictions that come along with a limited tort policy, some of which include having to meet certain injury criteria to receive coverage, and being exempt from seeking compensation for emotional distress, pain, or suffering caused by the accident, even if the other driver was completely at fault.
Most people select limited tort policies because they are less expensive and have lower deductibles. However, the downside of selecting a limited tort policy is that it prevents the insurance holder from being fully compensated for the accident.
On the other hand, full tort means that the insurance holder has chosen the “fault” system of laws. Under the fault body of law, there are fewer restrictions. If the holder is involved in an accident, they may be able to sue the at-fault driver for damages. This means that the other party, rather than the policy holder’s insurance company, will be liable for medical expenses, lost wages, and emotional distress.
If You Are Involved in an Accident That is Your Fault
If you, intentionally or unintentionally, cause the accident and you do not have vehicle liability coverage, the consequences can be long-lasting. If this scenario applies to you, you will likely benefit from legal representation to help you navigate the results of the citation. Please reach out to Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation; we will welcome your case, and will work with you during this trying time. If the other driver has a full tort insurance policy, be prepared to face the following penalties:
You will likely have to pay for all damages that are a result of the accident out of pocket. This includes property damages to your vehicle and your own medical bills. Easily this could amount to thousands of dollars.
Unfortunately, you will also be liable to cover the damages to the other person(s) harmed in the crash. The other driver(s) and their insurance companies have the right to sue you, which could result in future wages and your savings being used to compensate the other driver. All of this could result in debt, or in severe cases, bankruptcy.
If You Are Involved in an Accident That is Not Your Fault
If the other driver is at fault, the penalties for driving uninsured could be much less drastic. Although you will receive a citation from the Department of Motor Vehicles for driving uninsured, the main obstacle you will face is that your compensation from the accident will be at risk. If the at fault driver has a full tort policy, you may be able to sue them to cover your damages. If the at fault driver has a limited tort policy, you likely will have to pay for your own reparations out of pocket.
Experienced Car Accident Attorney Can Help
If you are a person who is simply trying to learn about the consequences of driving without insurance and has not been involved in an accident, Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys urges you to buy the proper insurance. Buying insurance is not only the right thing, it is legally required.
If you have been involved in a car accident, please reach out to us today, as legal representation could likely win you a minimum level of coverage. Although the state of Pennsylvania was for a long time unclear about what rights uninsured motorists have to pursue a personal injury claim, they definitively ruled in favor of uninsured motorists with the 2012 Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision. The court established that uninsured motorists are entitled to seek compensation against negligent drivers, even if the at-fault driver has insurance. Although motorists without insurance will likely not be able to receive full compensation, you likely will be entitled to some sort of economic support.
We are personal injury experts, and have combined decades of experience. Notably, we have won a number of multi-million dollar car accident settlements. We look forward to receiving your case and representing you to the fullest of our abilities. For more information on what to do following the accident, please contact us today for a free consultation.