Who Is Liable for Car Accidents in Pennsylvania?
Everyone on the road owes everyone else a duty of care. If anyone fails to uphold that duty of care, they are negligent and can be held accountable for the damages incurred by anyone they injure or kill.
Pennsylvania is a choice no-fault state for auto insurance. If you choose to purchase a no-fault insurance policy, you have agreed that your coverage will pay for your injuries, lost income, property, and other damages up to your policy limits, no matter who was at fault for the crash. Auto owners do have the option to choose to preserve their right to recover damages from a negligent party by purchasing “full tort” insurance coverage. With full tort coverage, you can pursue a claim against the negligent driver’s insurance company immediately.
Having limited tort coverage does not exclude victims from filing a claim against a negligent driver, however, if their injuries are permanent or disfiguring, or if their damages exceed the limits of their no-fault insurance coverage.
Does Pennsylvania Require Car Insurance?
Pennsylvania requires all auto owners to have limited tort or full tort insurance coverage. All policies must have minimum liability limits of $15,000 in bodily injury coverage for one person injured and $30,000 per person, per crash.
How Do Personal Injury Claims Work in Pennsylvania?
Personal injury claims must be settled with the negligent party’s insurer, or a civil lawsuit must be filed in the appropriate Pennsylvania court within two years of the date of the crash.
Pennsylvania recognizes a modified comparative fault rule which means more than one driver can be held responsible for a car accident. So long as you are assigned 50% or less of the fault, you can pursue a personal injury claim.
For example, the other driver is texting and drives through a red light at an intersection. You are driving 45 miles per hour in a 40 mile-per-hour zone when you T-bone the other vehicle. Although the other driver was mostly responsible for the crash, you could be held partially responsible. Any settlement you receive would be reduced by your percentage of fault. If you are held 20% at fault, using this example, you would receive $80,000 in a $100,000 settlement.
Wrongful Death Claims
The statute of limitations in a wrongful death claim resulting from a car accident is also two years.
Wrongful death claims may be pursued if the death is the result of someone else’s negligence or wrongful act. A claim must be filed by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate in Pennsylvania. If there is no will and therefore, no personal representative named by the decedent, the court will appoint someone to serve in that role.
If the personal representative fails to file a wrongful death action within six months of the death, the beneficiaries of the estate may file. Beneficiaries would include a surviving spouse, children, parents, and siblings of the decedent.
How Can Legal Counsel Help?
Fortunately, most people do not routinely address personal injury or wrongful death claims. If it happens to you, though, it’s important to retain a team of experienced car accident attorneys as soon as possible. At Goldberg, Goldberg & Maloney, we know how to fully investigate the circumstances of a crash, find insurance coverage, help you gather medical, income, and other documentation necessary to substantiate a claim, and help you value noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering or loss of companionship.