The Nuts and Bolts of Auto Law in Pennsylvania

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The Nuts and Bolts of Auto Law in Pennsylvania
The Nuts and Bolts of Auto Law in Pennsylvania

A. How Much?

Under Pennsylvania law, Pennsylvania car owners must carry at least $15,000 of bodily injury liability coverage to pay for personal injuries to another driver, in the event of an accident. Drivers can elect higher amounts Pennsylvania.

B. Who Pays?

Bodily injury coverage is based on fault and is available to the other driver in an auto accident. For example, Driver A causes an accident with Driver B, causing serious personal injuries to Driver B. Driver A’s auto policy includes the state minimum-$15,000 of bodily injury liability coverage. Driver B can make a claim under Driver A’s auto policy, for personal injuries, up to the $15,000 limit. However, Driver B may be limited in what he can recover, depending on whether he selected Full Tort or Limited Tort in his own auto policy.

C. How it Works?

In some instances, an injured driver can make a claim for bodily injury liability coverage against the other driver’s insurance company without having to file a lawsuit. However, if that insurance company fails to offer fair and reasonable compensation, the injured driver may have to file a lawsuit against the other driver.

PROPERTY DAMAGE

A. How Much?

Under Pennsylvania law, Pennsylvania car owners must carry at least $5,000 of property damage coverage to pay for property damage to another driver, in the event of an accident. Drivers can elect higher amounts.

B. Who Pays?

This type of coverage is frequently misunderstood. It is not available to an insured driver, under his own policy. Rather, it is available to the other driver in an accident, and is based upon fault. In our example, Driver A causes an accident with Driver B. Driver B’s car is totaled. Driver A has $10,000 of property damage coverage. Driver B can make a claim under Driver A’s auto policy for the fair market value of the totaled car, up to $10,000. In this same example, let’s assume Driver A’s auto was damaged. Driver A cannot make a property damage claim under his own policy. Again, property damage coverage is only available to the other driver and is based on fault.

C. Collision and Comprehensive Coverage

Collision and comprehensive coverage are optional and cover different types of auto damage. Collision covers any damage caused by an auto accident less a deductible. Comprehensive coverage covers any non-accident damage, such as fire, theft, etc., less a deductible. A driver who has purchased these types of coverage can make a claim under their own auto policy. Using the same example, Driver A-who caused the accident, can make a claim for repair to his auto, if and only if he has collision coverage. If Driver A did not purchase collision coverage, he would be responsible for the repairs.

D. How it Works

If an innocent driver’s auto is damaged in an accident caused by another driver, a property damage claim can be made directly to the other driver’s auto insurance company. So long as the accident is clearly the other driver’s fault Pennsylvania, this is usually the easiest way to make a property damage claim. If the innocent driver has collision coverage under his own auto policy, then a property damage claim can be made with his own auto insurance company. However, the deductible would be subtracted from the total amount recovered. Then, because the accident was the other driver’s fault, the innocent driver’s own auto insurance company should obtain the deductible from the other driver’s auto insurance company. That deductible should eventually make its way back to the innocent driver.

Again, using our example, Driver A is at fault for an accident with Driver B. Driver B has collision coverage with a standard $500 deductible. Driver B has a choice to make a claim with Driver A’s insurance company or his own insurance company. If he makes the claim with his own insurance company, he would receive the fair market value of his totaled auto less the $500 deductible. His insurance company would then seek reimbursement from Driver A’s auto insurance company for the fair market value and the deductible. At some point, Driver B should receive the $500 deductible back from his own insurance company-because the accident was Driver A’s fault.

A property damage claim is usually made without having to resort to a lawsuit. Incidentals such as rental car costs and towing/storage, are immediately compensable if the innocent driver has purchased such coverage under his own policy. Otherwise, they will become out of pocket expenses in a subsequent personal injury lawsuit against the other driver Pennsylvania.