Thousands of people in Pennsylvania are injured every year due to someone else’s negligence. Injuries could be caused in a car or truck accident, by a defective product, by hazardous conditions on someone else's property, or by a negligent healthcare provider. No matter how negligent someone else was, the injured person may sustain damages, including physical injury, emotional distress, medical expenses, and lost wages.
If you have sustained damages due to another party’s negligent acts, you may be able to assert a personal injury claim. Your first step is to know what constitutes such a claim in Pennsylvania. Your next step is to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney.
Richard L. Vanderslice, P.C., is dedicated to obtaining justice for clients in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in Philadelphia, Montgomery, and Delaware counties who have been injured due to someone else’s negligence. We cannot change what happened to you, but we can leverage 34 years of legal experience to help you receive fair compensation.
Pennsylvania is a no-fault state for auto insurance which means if you are injured in a motor vehicle crash, you can receive compensation for your property damage, medical bills, and lost wages from your own auto insurance policy, even if the other driver was at fault. You can only pursue a claim against the driver who caused the accident if your injuries are serious enough.
Pennsylvania is also one of the few “choice no-fault” states. When you purchase your insurance, you have the choice of a limited tort policy or full tort policy. The limited tort policy acts as previously described. With a full tort policy, you decline the no-fault system and can hold the at-fault driver liable for your injuries.
Pennsylvania also observes a modified comparative negligence rule in personal injury awards. Fault is assigned in total or in majority to the defendant; however, some fault may be assigned to the injured party. If so, the recovery sum is reduced by the injured party’s percentage of fault. For example, the defendant is 80% at fault and the injured party is 20% at fault. If the injured party is awarded $50,000 in damages, their award will be reduced by 20%, in this case, $10,000, so they would receive $40,000.
If the liability assigned to the injured party is more than 50%, they cannot pursue a claim against the other driver’s insurance coverage under any circumstance.
Furthermore, there is a two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Pennsylvania. You must either settle a claim with the negligent party’s insurance company or file a lawsuit within two years from the date of the incident which caused the injuries.
You can file a claim against your own insurance policy’s personal injury protection (PIP) coverage to pay medical expenses and lost wages resulting from your crash-related injuries. PIP does not cover pain and suffering.
If you have a limited tort policy, you will not be able to pursue compensation for pain and suffering from the negligent driver’s insurance policy. Reducing awards for pain and suffering in lawsuits was the impetus for no-fault insurance. Premiums for limited tort policies are less expensive because you forfeit your right to sue the at-fault driver. Only under specific circumstances, in which your injuries are deemed severe enough, can you sue the other driver if you have a limited tort policy.
If you have a full tort coverage policy, you have the right to file a claim against the negligent driver’s auto insurance policy as well as taking advantage of your own policy’s PIP coverage. If you and your personal injury attorney are unable to settle your claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer, you can file a lawsuit so long as you meet the statute of limitations. Premiums for a full tort policy may cost you more, but you do not surrender your right to hold a negligent driver liable for your damages.
If you have a full tort policy, you may recover economic damages, non-economic damages, and in some cases, punitive damages. If you have a limited tort policy, you are limited to economic damages, unless your injuries reach a high level of severity.
Economic Damages - These are damages with a definitive price tag, including medical expenses, lost income, property damage, and reduced earning potential due to disability.
Non-economic Damages - These are damage that are more difficult to place a price on, including pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment, and physical impairment and disfigurement.
Punitive Damages - Punitive damages are reserved for cases in which the negligent party displayed a willful, wanton, malicious, or reckless disregard for the safety of others. Punitive damages of a significant monetary sum may be awarded to punish the negligent party for failing to take steps to protect others.
No-fault states inherently limit the right of someone injured by someone else’s negligence to hold that party accountable. As a choice no-fault state, Pennsylvania does provide the opportunity to hold a negligent party accountable if the injured party has full tort coverage.
Whether you have full tort coverage or you have sustained serious injuries, you should seek counsel from an experienced personal injury attorney you can trust. Your attorney will know how to fully investigate the circumstances surrounding the event that led to your injuries, build a case, quantify your damages, and aggressively pursue compensation on your behalf. You need an attorney who will not back down from insurance company lawyers and one who knows how to successfully present your case to a jury should your case go to trial.
At Richard L. Vanderslice, P.C., we know that every client who comes to us is unique. The circumstances that led to your injuries and the losses you have suffered are distinctive and we treat your case that way. Call or reach out to our firm today to schedule a free case consultation to learn more about how we can help you!
For our personal injury clients in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and across Philadelphia County, Montgomery County, and Delaware County, we provide the time, counsel, resources, and expertise necessary to help them obtain just compensation. If you or someone you love has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, we should talk. Call our office today to schedule a free case consultation.