What Happens When You Are at Fault for a Car Accident in Harrisburg, PA?
April 18, 2022 | Car Accidents
When you cause a car accident in Harrisburg, PA, you may bear liability for some or all of the property damage and injuries you cause. Unfortunately, your liability will depend partly on the insurance coverage of the other drivers in the accident.
Your liability will also depend on your auto insurance coverage choices under Pennsylvania law, including your policy limits and any optional insurance coverage you may have.
Here is an overview of what happens when you are at fault for a car accident in Harrisburg, PA.
What Are Fault and No-Fault Auto Insurance?
State law dictates the type of car insurance drivers must carry. Some states require drivers to have no-fault insurance. This insurance generally covers a portion of the insured’s reasonable and necessary medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who was at fault for the accident.
Other states require drivers to purchase fault-based insurance. This insurance covers other parties if the insured is at fault for the accident. However, the accident victim must prove that the driver was at fault to recover damages.
Pennsylvania is a unique state when it comes to auto insurance requirements. It requires both no-fault and fault insurance. It also requires drivers to select either a limited or full tort option with their car insurance policy.
What Are Pennsylvania’s Auto Insurance Requirements?
Every car owner in Pennsylvania must carry auto insurance.
The minimum required coverages required in Pennsylvania are:
- Medical benefits (no-fault) coverage in the amount of $5,000
- Bodily injury liability (fault) coverage in the amount of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident
- Property damage liability (fault) coverage in the amount of $5,000
These are only the minimum limits required. Drivers may opt for higher policy limits when they purchase their auto insurance.
People may also choose to add optional auto insurance coverage to their policy, such as uninsured motorist, underinsured motorist, collision insurance, income loss coverage, etc.
What Are Limited and Full Tort Coverage in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania is also different from most states because it requires drivers to select either limited or full tort coverage with their auto insurance policy.
Limited Tort Coverage
If you choose limited tort coverage, you can seek compensation for medical and out-of-pocket expenses. However, Pennsylvania law limits your ability to recover non-economic damages from other drivers, such as pain and suffering, but there are exceptions.
You may only seek non-economic damages under the limited tort option if:
- You suffered a “serious injury,” defined as death, serious impairment, or permanent disfigurement
- The at-fault driver was convicted of a DUI in the accident
- The at-fault driver was operating a vehicle registered in another state
- The at-fault driver intentionally hit you
- You had an accident with an uninsured driver
- A defect on the vehicle contributed to the action (product liability claims against third parties)
- You were injured while riding in a commercial vehicle, like a taxi or bus
Many drivers in Pennsylvania choose this option because insurers charge lower premiums for limited tort coverage than for full tort coverage.
Full Tort Coverage
If you select the full tort option, you have an unrestricted right to recover damages from at-fault drivers. In other words, you can recover economic and non-economic damages arising out of motor vehicle accidents.
Your Rights After Causing a Car Accident in Harrisburg, PA
If you cause a car accident in Pennsylvania, you can get compensated for your injuries.
Pennsylvania drivers must first file a claim against their own no-fault medical benefits policy. Medical benefits coverage provides compensation for reasonable and necessary medical expenses and up to 80% of your lost income. So, even if you were at fault for the accident, you are entitled to compensation under your medical benefits policy.
Since many drivers likely have the minimum limit of medical benefits coverage ($5,000), this policy probably will not cover all expenses. That’s where at-fault insurance comes into play.
Your Liability After Causing a Car Accident in Harrisburg, PA
Once the accident victim recovers benefits under their own no-fault policy, they can make a claim against your bodily injury liability and property damage liability policies for damages. They must prove that you were at fault for the accident to recover damages, and your policy will only cover them up to your policy limits.
Also, the amount of damages you are responsible for depends on the accident victim’s tort coverage. If they elected limited tort insurance, you’d only be responsible for their medical and out-of-pocket expenses. If one of the limited exceptions noted above applies, you may also be liable for their non-economic damages.
On the other hand, if the other driver elected full tort coverage, they can recover both economic and non-economic damages.
If your policy limits cannot cover all of the damages, the other driver may file a lawsuit against you to recover their additional damages.
Defending Yourself After You Cause a Car Accident
You will need an experienced personal injury lawyer after you cause a car accident, especially if you aren’t 100% at fault for the accident. A good lawyer may be able to defend you from bearing all of the responsibility for the accident.
Under Pennsylvania’s comparative fault law, you can shift some of the blame to the other drivers, which reduces the damages you must pay. For example, shifting 30% of the blame to the other driver means you only pay 70% of the damages. If your lawyer can shift 51% or more of the blame to the other driver, you pay nothing under Pennsylvania’s modified comparative negligence law.
Contact an Award-Winning Pennsylvania Car Accident Lawyer For Help
If you or a loved one has sustained an injury in Harrisburg or elsewhere in the state of Pennsylvania, contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates. Our award-winning Harrisburg car accident lawyers can help you understand your rights and fight to secure the financial award you may deserve. Please contact us at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today:
Harrisburg Law Office
945 East Park Drive, Suite 103 Harrisburg, PA 17111
Wyomissing Law Office
833 N. Park Road, Suite 103, Room A Wyomissing, PA 19610