Pennsylvania Car Accident Compensation Laws

Pennsylvania has no shortage of both historical and quirky attractions. Among other things, it is home to Gettysburg, Valley Forge, Punxsutawney Phil, the nation's oldest gas station, and the world's largest clothespin. And while Pennsylvania also has the country's largest Amish population, most of its citizens drive cars throughout the Keystone State. If you're involved in a car accident in this state, you'll want to become familiar with Pennsylvania's car accident compensation laws.

Below is a table outlining key sections of Pennsylvania's car accident compensation laws, followed by in-depth explanations of important aspects of the laws.

Statute of Limitations

2 years for most personal injury and property damage lawsuits (Title 42, Sec. 5524(2),(3))

Limits on Damages No cap on most damages (prohibited by state Constitution); $500,000 cap on claims against the local government (Tit. 42, Sec. 8553(b)); $250,000 cap on claims against the Commonwealth (Tit. 42, Sec. 8528(b) )
Other Limits Choice no-fault rules may limit ability to sue (Tit. 75, Sec. 1705(c),(d)); modified comparative negligence fault system may prevent or diminish damages (Title 42, Sec. 7102 );

Economic vs. Non-economic Damages

There are typically two types of damages to consider after you've been in a car accident: economic and non-economic. Economic damages are the objective losses you've incurred as a result of your injury or damage to property. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are the more subjective costs of an accident, like emotional distress and the loss of spousal companionship.

Economic damages typically include:

  • Car repairs or replacement
  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages

Non-economic damages can include:

  • Physical pain
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of affection or companionship

Who Was at Fault? "Choice No Fault" and "Comparative Negligence" Rules

Pennsylvania is one of just a few states that follow the "choice no fault" rule which permits drivers to carry either no-fault or traditional insurance. The former means that your insurance compensates you for economic damages regardless of who was at fault in the accident. This lessens your own liability but also limits your ability to sue other drivers.

In circumstances where you are permitted to seek legal remedy, Pennsylvania allows you to recover damages even if you were partly to blame for causing the accident. However, you must not be more than 50% at fault in order to do so. Additionally, according to the modified comparative negligence standard, any damages that are awarded will be reduced in proportion to the degree that you were at fault. For example, if you were 10% to blame and the other driver was 90% at fault, you may still file a lawsuit, but an award of $10,000 will be reduced by $1000.

Limits on Damages

In Pennsylvania, most damage caps are unconstitutional according to the state's Constitution. However, there are exceptions for claims against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and local governments, which are capped at $250,000 and $500,000, respectively. Additionally, all claims are time-sensitive and carry deadlines for filing your lawsuit in court. In Pennsylvania, the deadline for personal injury and property damage claims is 2 years.

Get a Free Claim Review from a Pennsylvania Attorney

Pennsylvania's "choice no fault" and comparative negligence rules can make navigating insurance claims and lawsuits more difficult than in other states. After a car accident, you'll want to know how these rules might affect your ability to recover damages for losses you've incurred. Receive a free claim evaluation from an experienced attorney, familiar with Pennsylvania's car accident compensation laws to evaluate the strength of your claim.

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