Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Feb 18, 2020

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In Pennsylvania, if you are injured in an accident, the manner in which you recover for your damages normally depends on the type of insurance you buy, or the type of insurance purchased by anyone else in your household.

If you or your household members opted into the “no fault” system by purchasing limited tort insurance, you are restricted from suing after a car accident. Pennsylvania residents who purchased full tort insurance, on the other hand, may sue. They may also make a third party claim against the insurer of the person who caused the accident. If you purchased no insurance at all, then you are also generally able to sue to recover your damages if the other party was at fault.

What Are My Options?

If you have no insurance and you get into a car accident in Pennsylvania, you have two options: you can file a third party claim with the driver’s insurance company for your bodily injury, or you can file a personal injury lawsuit. It is mandatory to have bodily injury liability insurance in Pennsylvania, and the minimum requirement is $15,000 of coverage per person and $30,000 per occurrence. This means if the other person who hit you follows the law regarding Pennsylvania car accident insurance requirements, he will have at least this much insurance coverage to provide payment for any claims you make against him.

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What Should I Do First after the Accident?

The first thing you should do is file a third party claim if you are reasonably sure the auto accident was the fault of the other party. After you make a claim, the insurance company will look at the claim and determine who was at fault. If it is the person they insured, they will determine the amount of damages to offer you. They usually do not make an offer until all the medical treatment is finished.

If their offer is acceptable to you, then they will ask you to sign a release and they will make the payment to you. If you do not feel that they are compensating you enough, you can reject their offer and they may make another offer. If you still are not happy with their offer, then you can take the matter to court.

What Will I Need if I Decide to Go to Court?

If you do go to court for a Pennsylvania car accident, either because the insurance company did not make an acceptable offer or because the motorist who hit you has no insurance, make sure you have gathered as much evidence as possible to support your case. Evidence may include the accident report, copies of your medical expenses, and eyewitness accounts of the accident, if you can get them. If you intend to file a lawsuit to recover car accident injury damages, you should strongly consider speaking with a lawyer for advice.