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Is Pennsylvania a No-Fault State?

Is Pennsylvania a No-Fault State?

In most states around the country, if you are injured in a car accident, you have the right to pursue a legal claim against the at-fault driver. You can seek compensation for medical costs associated with an injury, lost wages, and your pain and suffering. In some states, however, drivers are required to carry “no-fault” insurance. In those states, injured drivers must file injury claims with their own insurance provider, even if another driver was at fault. Various exceptions and limitations apply, including limitations on the types of damages available under no-fault insurance. Where does Pennsylvania fall when it comes to liability for car crash injuries? Can you sue a negligent driver, or are you limited to your own insurance for recovery? Continue reading to learn about Pennsylvania’s no-fault insurance scheme, and call a knowledgeable Chestnut Hill car crash lawyer for help after a car accident in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania Has an Optional No-Fault Insurance System

Similar to some other states like New York, Pennsylvania has a no-fault insurance system. Drivers purchase their own auto insurance, which includes no-fault coverage for accidents (specifically, “personal injury protection” (PIP) or medical benefits coverage). The no-fault policy covers out-of-pocket losses sustained as a result of an accident, up to the policy limits, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Drivers who are covered by one of these policies are limited to recovery under their own policy and cannot bring claims against an at-fault driver for additional damages unless they satisfy certain thresholds established by state law.

Pennsylvania is one of a very few states, however, to have a no-fault system that is optional. Drivers can choose whether to purchase a “full tort” or a “limited tort” policy. Limited tort is the traditional no-fault coverage: Drivers are generally limited to recovery under their own policies but may be able to file a claim against the at-fault driver unless certain exceptions apply. A “full tort” policy, on the other hand, allows the driver to sue an at-fault driver for compensation.

Full Tort vs. Limited Tort Recovery

Pennsylvania auto insurance companies allow drivers to choose either full tort or limited tort policies.

Limited tort policies are less expensive, but they offer limitations on coverage. Drivers can generally only recover their monetary expenses, such as medical costs or lost wages, and are limited by the policy cap. Drivers cannot recover additional damages from their insurers, such as damages for pain and suffering or emotional distress caused by an accident or injury. In order to seek additional recovery for non-monetary damages, the accident victim must have suffered a “serious injury.” Serious injuries are explained within the policies and by Pennsylvania court decisions. Typically, there must be some significant or permanent damage done to a limb or bodily function, or there must be permanent and serious disfigurement. Loss of limb, paralysis or serious brain damage would likely qualify.

Full tort policies are more expensive, but they give drivers much more flexibility in recovering compensation after an accident. Covered drivers, as well as covered family or household members, can recover for their actual out-of-pocket losses (medical cost, lost wages) as well as for non-monetary losses like pain and suffering and emotional distress. Injured accident victims can pursue recovery for these additional damages directly against at-fault drivers without the need to satisfy the “serious injury” threshold.


If you or someone you love has been injured in a traffic accident in Pennsylvania, you need the help of a seasoned and professional personal injury attorney to get the damages you deserve. Benedum Law founding attorney Christine Benedum has dedicated her career to fighting for accident victims and knows how to get her clients the compensation they deserve from those at fault. Contact a dedicated Philadelphia car accident victim attorney at Benedum Law in Chestnut Hill for a free consultation on your case at 215-529-7848 (215-LAWSUIT).

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