What am I entitled to after a car accident?

In a car accident, one of the drivers may be at-fault for causing the collision. After the crash, the victim driver may have bodily injuries and property damage to their vehicle. As a result, he may incur medical expenses and repair bills. The at-fault driver, liable for the car accident, may have to pay for the injuries and other costs sustained by the victim. The compensation an injured party is entitled to after a crash varies from accident to accident as well as person to person. Factors like the extent of the victim’s bodily injuries, emotional toll, and financial hardship that arise from the car accident determine the victim’s compensation value.  

Pennsylvania law requires owners to register their vehicles with the Pennsylvania Department of Motor vehicles. To obtain a vehicle registration, the automobile owner must have valid car insurance that meets the state requirements. The minimum limits of insurance coverage in Pennsylvania are $15,000 per person or $30,000 per accident for bodily injury liability and $15,000 for property damage liability. The insured can have insurance limits higher than the minimum requirements. The victim party may receive a monetary award up to the limits of the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability insurance for physical and emotional injuries arising from the accident. If the vehicle or other property needs repairs or replacement due to the car crash, the property owner may receive up to the property damage liability limits.

Additional insurance is optional. Underinsured motorist insurance (UIM) is optional insurance in a victim’s policy to cover damages when the at-fault driver’s liability insurance coverage is less than the victim’s total damages. An injured party to a car accident has the option to purchase uninsured motorist coverage (UM), which covers their injuries if the at-fault driver does not have insurance or is unknown. UIM and UM minimum limits in Pennsylvania are $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident. The car accident victim may be entitled to up to the limits on the at-fault driver’s liability coverage. They may also receive compensation from their insurance policy up to their UIM limits to cover the balance remaining after applying for the at-fault driver’s liability coverage.  

The damages from a vehicle accident may be economic and noneconomic. The ability to seek compensation for these losses is determined by the form of insurance a person chooses. Under Pennsylvania law, vehicle owners may choose to have limited tort insurance or full tort insurance. The limited tort option allows the victim of a car accident to seek economic losses, including medical costs and other out-of-pocket expenses. However, limited tort prohibits recovery for noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering unless the victim suffers a serious injury. Under full tort coverage, the injured party can seek compensation for economic and noneconomic damages.

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