Personal Injury Primers

The following are some brief points to educate yourself about certain topics which frequently arise in personal injury claims:

Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Suits

All states have limits on the amount of time one has to file a complaint, or lawsuit, in the case of an injury resulting from the negligence of another. These limits may vary, depending on the type of claim which is being made. In Pennsylvania, the injured party has 2 years from the date of the incident to file a law suit based upon the negligence of a third party. This 2-year period is known as the Statute of Limitations.

Hourglass on wooden table.
It is important to be aware of how much time you have to file a law suit.

Comparative Negligence/Shared Fault Rules

If an injured party was to blame (at least in part) for the accident, the individual’s award will be reduced by the amount of negligence attributable to the injured party. Pennsylvania’s “Comparative Negligence Rule” indicates that the compensation a plaintiff is awarded is reduced by the percentage the jury believes the plaintiff to be at fault. For example, if one slips and falls on a wet floor in a super market, and a caution sign near the puddle warned of the danger, a jury may believe that the injured party was at least partially at fault for failing to heed the warning, or otherwise failing to pay better attention to his or her surroundings. Moreover, in Pennsylvania, an injured party who is found to be greater than 50% at fault for an accident is entirely precluded from recovery.

What is No-Fault Car Insurance?

Pennsylvania is a no-fault insurance state. Therefore, when you are injured in an automobile accident, your insurance company will pay for your medical expenses (through PIP coverage, see below) and loss of income (depending on the amount of coverage that you purchased) no matter who was at fault for the accident.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Minimum Auto Insurance Limits

Pennsylvania law requires that every car owner carry PIP (Personal Injury Protection) benefits on his or her vehicle. In most states, this facet of car insurance is optional. However, in Pennsylvania, and in 15 other states, PIP coverage is required. By having PIP coverage, individuals involved in an accident will receive prompt medical attention if needed, and medical expenses (up to the limits purchased) will be covered by insurance. In the event of a fatality, funeral expenses may also be covered (if that coverage has been elected). The minimum coverage amounts in PA are as follows: Bodily injury liability coverage: $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident; Medical/PIP $5,000; Property damage liability: $5,000; Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverage: $15,000 per person, $30,000 per accident (these 2 coverages must be elected, at a higher premium cost).

Metal car key chain with ignition key on top of an insurance certificate.
You can refer to Pennsylvania’s Automobile Insurance Guide for complete rules on car insurance.

No Caps on Personal Injury Damages in Pennsylvania

In some states there are limits on what an injured party can receive via settlement, or following a successful personal injury trial. In Pennsylvania however, there are no limits on the amount of damages for pain and suffering which may be awarded for cases involving serious injury or death.

Scott Bonebrake is a personal injury attorney in Media, PA, and has been a licensed attorney for 24 years. Please feel free to contact Scott if you have any legal questions, including those regarding personal injuries. You can reach Scott at 610-892-7700, or at sbonebrake@noelandbonebrake.com