At-Fault State Legal Definition

What is an At-Fault State?” 

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  • At-Fault State
At-Fault State Legal Definition

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At-Fault State legal definition: An at-fault state is defined as a system in which a driver who causes an accident is responsible for all legal damages to those injured. About a dozen states utilize the at-fault system. While Pennsylvania is among them, the commonwealth is considered a “choice” at-fault state. This means that drivers may choose to opt out of the at-fault system through insurance coverage selection.

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At-Fault States and Car Accident Cases

If you suffer an injury in a car accident in Pennsylvania, the first step is filing a claim against your own insurance policy for compensation regardless of who is at fault for the crash to recover compensation for:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages
  • Out-of-pocket costs
  • Other associated expenses

Only in certain cases will you, as an accident victim, be able to file a direct claim against the driver who was liable for the crash that caused your injuries.

In Pennsylvania, your ability to recover legal damages is dependent on the type of car insurance you’ve purchased. State law dictates that drivers must opt for one of two types of coverage: limited tort and full tort.

If you’ve opted for limited tort, your own insurance covers injuries suffered by you and/or others who are covered by your policy. However, limited-tort policies do as their name suggests: They limit your ability to recover legal compensation if someone else was liable for the accident that causes your injuries.

The most you will be able to recover from the at-fault driver is:

  • Medical treatment costs
  • Out-of-pocket expenses associated with your injury

It should be noted that you can recover damages only for “serious” injuries under limited-tort insurance policies, and that seriousness is determined by a judge or jury. That means that even though an injury may be devastating to you, it might not be legally considered serious enough to be compensable.

Full-tort insurance is different. It, too, does what its name implies: It gives accident victims full rights to recover money from an at-fault driver. If you opt for full-tort insurance, you are eligible to recover money for any injury suffered, not just those deemed “serious.” It also allows you to seek compensation for pain and suffering – not just for medical bills, missed paychecks, and other out-of-pocket costs.



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