How long a car accident claim takes to settle varies from case to case. If your car accident involved relatively minor damages and injuries, it could be settled within months. If your accident resulted in severe injuries, permanent physical or mental impairment, or loss of earning capacity, it could take longer to resolve. If your claim is disputed, it may take years and end up in civil court.
Pennsylvania Insurance Laws
Pennsylvania follows a no-fault insurance model. In no-fault states, drivers seek compensation from their own insurer after an accident, regardless of which driver is responsible for the crash. According to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, every driver must have a minimum of:
- $5,000 in medical benefits coverage. This coverage pays for you or your passengers’ medical bills, no matter who is at fault.
- $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage for one person, or $30,000 per accident. If you are responsible for the accident, this coverage pays for the other party’s medical bills and rehabilitation costs.
- $5,000 in property damage liability coverage for any accident you cause.
You may purchase additional insurance, including increased coverage for medical benefits or protection against uninsured motorists. The type of insurance you carry and the amount can impact how long your car accident claim takes to settle. If medical bills and property damages do not exceed your coverage or that of the at-fault driver, your claim could be resolved quickly. If fault for the accident is unclear, you have serious injuries, or expensive medical bills, your case could drag on. If you cannot settle your case through an insurance claim, you may need to take legal action.
When You Can Seek Compensation From Another Driver
In no-fault states, there are restrictions on when you may sue another driver. Pennsylvania is unique in that it is one of only a few states that uses a no-fault model but gives drivers a choice between a full tort or limited tort policy. Full tort coverage comes with higher premiums but allows drivers to sue a liable party without restrictions.
Limited tort policies allow drivers to pursue awards for out-of-pocket medical bills and expenses, but there are limits on when they can seek damages for pain and suffering. According to 75 Pa. C.S.A. § 1705, you may sue for these damages if your injuries fall under the definition of a “serious injury” as outlined by your insurance policy.
For a free legal consultation, call 412-661-1400
Seeking a Settlement
If someone else’s recklessness or negligence caused your car accident, you might be able to seek compensation.
Awards You Can Pursue
In an insurance claim, you can seek compensation for:
- Past and future medical expenses – This includes awards for emergency medical treatment, surgeries, medications, physical therapy, mobility aids, and extended nursing care.
- Property damages – This includes damages to your vehicle and other possessions, such as cell phones, laptops, or jewelry.
- Lost wages – This includes back pay, awards for reduced earning capacity, and household expenses.
- Pain and suffering – If you have permanent and/or debilitating physical or mental injuries, you could receive compensation for your pain and suffering.
- Wrongful death – If your loved one died from injuries suffered in a car accident, you might be able to seek an insurance settlement on their behalf.
If your claim is denied or the insurance company does not offer an adequate settlement, you might be able to take your case to civil court. However, your ability to seek damages for pain and suffering will depend on whether you carry a full or limited tort insurance policy.
A Lawyer Can Help With Your Insurance Claim
Know that the insurance company you are dealing with has their own lawyers working on your claims. Financially, it is in their best interest to find reasons not to pay.
A lawyer can help you prove the other driver was at fault using evidence like eyewitness testimony, crash reconstruction expert testimony, photographs, and video footage. Working with a lawyer can ensure you are represented throughout the insurance process. Your attorney can file documents, represent you in negotiations, and review settlement offers.
If you need to take legal action, a lawyer can help you file your case in court and proceed with a civil lawsuit. The statute of limitations for personal injury and wrongful death is two years in Pennsylvania, according to 42 Pa. C.S.A. § 5524. If you do not file your case within this time frame, it may no longer be eligible. However, you and the other party may still settle the case at any time before going to trial.
Berger and Green Can Help You
Berger and Green can help you with your car accident claim. If you would like to learn more about how a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania personal injury lawyer can help, reach out to our team at (412) 661-1400.