Auto Accident Liability in DE, PA and NJ
Generally speaking, the laws of the state in which the car accident occurs determine who pays for the damages from an automobile accident. Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey law all require insurers to issue insurance policies called No-Fault policies, although Pennsylvania and New Jersey provide for a more specific version called Choice No-Fault insurance. No-Fault insurance describes any automobile insurance system that requires drivers to carry insurance for their own protection and limits their ability to sue other drivers for damages. In an accident under a No-Fault system, your auto insurance company may pay for your damages up to your policy limits, no matter who was at fault for the accident, hence the name No-Fault.
Delaware has a form of No-Fault automobile insurance called Personal Injury Protection or “PIP.” Delaware No-Fault insurance coverage pays for your medical bills and lost wages, but not for your pain and suffering, up to the applicable policy’s PIP coverage limit. As a result, Delaware does not allow you to sue a negligent driver for the costs of your medical bills and lost wages, unless you exceed your PIP coverage. If you exceed your PIP coverage you can sue to recover the excess medical or wage loss costs. However, Delaware No-Fault law does allow you to sue the person who caused the car accident and your injuries for pain and suffering.
Pennsylvania has a Choice No-Fault system, which means that drivers choose whether they want to be insured under a No-Fault plan similar to Delaware’s. Under a No-Fault policy, drivers turn to their PIP coverage first. Pennsylvania drivers may also choose a traditional policy. The No-Fault plan is called Limited Tort coverage. Drivers with Limited Tort polices may not sue for pain and suffering unless the accident involved a “serious injury,” which is statutorily defined. Limited Tort may seem like an ideal policy selection because drivers pay lower premiums, however such policies restrict the rights of an injured driver. On the other hand, if a driver chooses to have a traditional insurance policy, known as Full Tort coverage, the driver retains the right to sue for pain and suffering, regardless of whether the accident involved serious injury. However, when selecting Full Tort, the driver may also be sued if he or she is ever found to be the at-fault driver.
New Jersey also has a Choice No-Fault system. Like Pennsylvania and Delaware, drivers can choose a No-Fault plan under which they forfeit the right to sue for pain and suffering, unless they can prove serious injury, and turn first to PIP coverage. Or drivers can choose traditional coverage, in which they retain the right to sue for pain and suffering, and may also be sued in return. New Jersey does not use the distinction of Limited and Full Tort.
If you have been injured in a car accident, contact one of our experienced Media PA Personal Injury Attorneys to fight for you.