Philadelphia Car Accident Attorney Discusses Insurance Options

Pennsylvania auto accident lawyer Jeffrey Harlan Penneys, Esq. has seen many instances where a personal injury victim of an auto accident in Pennsylvania simply did not understand the auto insurance that was being offered to them, and purchased insufficient coverage. In Pennsylvania, motorists must purchase insurance coverage in the minimum amount of $15,000 / $30,000 / $5,000. This means that if you are involved in a car accident in Pennsylvania and it is your fault, each personal injury victim can get up to $15,000, or if there is more than one injured victim in an auto accident,  they can share in a total of $30,000 among the personal injury victims. However, each victim is limited to a maximum of $15,000. The $5,000 indication is for auto accident medical bill reimbursement.


In Pennsylvania, there are two types of auto coverage that one must choose from: Limited Tort and Full Tort

Which tort option should you choose on your Pennsylvania Auto Insurance policy, Limited Tort or Full Tort? Insurance agents typically do not fully explain what each tort option means, so let’s look at the options from the standpoint of a Pennsylvania auto accident lawyer.

Limited Tort Insurance Option

With Limited Tort, you give up the right to compensation for pain and suffering if you are injured in a Pennsylvania car accident. When injured in an auto accident in PA, you will, depending on the severity of your personal injuries, suffer pain, suffering, loss of life’s pleasures, embarrassment, and humiliation. Personal injuries due to car wrecks can result in long-term disabilities that last for months or years.

Most Pennsylvania citizens are unfamiliar with auto insurance terms and have no idea what they are giving-up when they select Limited Tort auto insurance. Most people choose Limited Tort because they believe:

  • The annual premiums are much less
  • They won’t get involved in an car accident
  • They are protected because they have “Full Coverage”
  • They believe that if the other vehicle is at fault for the car accident, the other has to pay

Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq., a top Pennsylvania auto accident lawyer, explains why the above statements are untrue:

  • While the annual premiums are less for Limited Tort, it is only 10% less, on average, than if you choose Full Tort.
  • Anyone can be involved in a auto accident — that’s why it’s called an accident – it’s not something you can avoid or plan for.
  • “Full Coverage” is not the same as “Full Tort.” Full coverage generally means that you have purchased collision coverage and perhaps wage loss, but you are still not protected for pain and suffering from an auto accident.
  • Unless you have selected Full Tort auto coverage like any auto accident lawyer would advise, the insurance company for the at-fault vehicle only has to compensate you for economic losses (wage loss, property damage, excess medical bills that are not covered by your automobile policy or health insurance).

By choosing Limited Tort, you sacrifice full protection for yourself and your family members who are covered under your Pennsylvania car insurance policy. Insureds are those relatives that live with you who do not have auto insurance of their own—this typically means minor children or others who live with you. Limited Tort not only puts you and your family at risk in your own car, but it even applies when you or your children are injured when they are passengers in someone else’s car!

Exceptions to Limited Tort

There are some exceptions to Limited Tort in Pennsylvania, where if you meet the exception, the at-fault insurance company will have to compensate you even as though you had selected Full Tort. The most common exceptions are as follows:

  • If the at-fault driver is convicted of or pleads guilty to DUI
  • If the at-fault driver is operating a vehicle registered in a state other than Pennsylvania
  • If you are in a commercial vehicle (e.g., rental car, SEPTA bus)
  • If you are “seriously injured” (e.g., surgery) or have “disfigurement” (e.g., scarring) as a result of the accident

Pennsylvania auto accident lawyer Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. has represented plenty of individuals in throughout PA who have chosen Limited Tort on their auto policy. Please contact Pennsylvania auto accident lawyer Jeffrey H. Penneys, Esq. to discuss your rights, even if you believe that you are stuck with Limited Tort on your Pennsylvania Auto policy.

Full Tort Insurance Options

In Pennsylvania, if you have selected Full Tort on your insurance policy and you are not the at-fault party, your auto accident lawyer is permitted to seek monetary damages on your behalf for everything relating to the personal injury auto accident, including pain and suffering, loss of life’s pleasures, inconvenience, lost wages, property damage and any other loss resulting from the car accident.

Choosing Full Tort on your auto policy instead of Limited Tort costs a little more on your auto insurance premium, but take if from an experienced Pennsylvania auto accident lawyer it could mean thousands of dollars to you if you are injured in a Pennsylvania auto accident. Having additional money to help you through a difficult time in your life is well worth the investment today, in my opinion.

If you do not live with a relative who owns an insured motor vehicle and you yourself do not own a car, then you are automatically Full Tort under PA motor vehicle law. Furthermore, if you are a pedestrian hit by a motor vehicle, you are likewise considered Full Tort in Pennsylvania.

Medical Bills and Pennsylvania Car Accident Law

Will My Medical Bills Be Paid if I am Involved in a Pennsylvania Car Accident?

Every Pennsylvania auto insurance policy must have a minimum of $5,000.00 for medical payments or PIP (“Personal Injury Protection”), so Pennsylvania auto accident personal injury claims are paid first from that, then health insurance is triggered and the rest of the bills will be paid that way.

Will I Have To Reimburse My Health Insurer For Bills They Paid For My Car Accident Care? Potentially, yes. If your medical bills exceeded $2,000 and your health insurance carrier pays for medical treatment over the first $2,000 that PIP paid, they may be legally entitled to be reimbursed from any amounts you receive in connection with your bodily injury claim. This right of reimbursement is called a “lien”. Exactly how much you would have to reimburse your health insurer would depend on the individual facts, and a good personal injury attorney will explain in detail before you receive any payments from your auto accident case.

More car accident personal injury medical compensation information.

Pennsylvania Auto Accident Law if At-Fault Driver Does Not Have Enough Insurance

The minimum insurance coverage that a Pennsylvania driver must get is $15,000/$30,000. If you are seriously injured, and this amount is insufficient to compensate you for your injuries, you may be entitled to collect “underinsured” (UIM) or “uninsured” (UM) motorist benefits:

Underinsured motorist claims:

When you are hit by a driver with insufficient insurance coverage to pay for your personal injuries, or are a passenger in a vehicle involved in a wreck with insufficient insurance coverage, you may seek compensation under the underinsured section of your own auto insurance policy, the policy that exists in your household, or the vehicle that you were in if that vehicle is not at-fault for the Pennsylvania auto accident.

Uninsured motorist claims: This type of insurance coverage is for those injured in a Pennsylvania hit and run accident, or by an uninsured driver.

How Will The Person I Sue Be Affected If I Bring a Bodily Injury Claim?

Almost all personal injury claims are defended by insurance companies and their lawyers, so the negligent person or business you make a personal injury claim against will not have to pay any money out-of-pocket. A personal injury claim is a civil case in Pennsylvania, so the defendant will not be punished criminally (unless, generally, it was a DUI situation).

How Will My Philadelphia Auto Accident Lawyer Be Paid?

Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers are hired under a “Contingency Fee Agreement.” Your attorney collects a percentage of the recovery — you pay nothing out-of-pocket, and there is no retainer that you pay. If no financial recovery is collected, you owe your auto accident lawyer nothing!

If you have been involved in Pennsylvania auto accident, please call Philadelphia auto accident lawyer Jeffrey Penneys for a free consultation at 1-215-771-0430 24–7, 365 days a year.