What Happens if the At-Fault Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance in a Crash?01 Dec 2022, by Motor Vehicle Accidents, Personal Injury in
Written by Timothy Czekaj
A car crash can cause a lot of anxiety, especially if the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance. However, you still have options, including using your own no-fault insurance policy.
In Pennsylvania, there are multiple ways that you can get compensation to cover your medical bills, car repairs, and other losses.
Pennsylvania is a No-Fault State. What does that Mean?
Most states use a “fault” system when dealing with car crashes. That means whoever is at fault (or most at fault) is liable for the damages they cause to the other driver.
However, Pennsylvania is considered a “no-fault” state. No-fault states require drivers in crashes to file an insurance claim with their policies before seeking compensation from the other party.
Pennsylvania is slightly different because it is a “choice” no-fault state. That means you can choose whether you have “full tort” coverage to cover your damages.
A “tort” is a legal word describing an incident that causes injuries. If you opt out of the full range, you may still file an insurance claim with the liability policy of the other party.
Minimum Insurance Coverage Requirements in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania insurance laws require every driver to have a minimum amount of liability coverage. This protects you if you are the at-fault driver in a crash and the other party seeks compensation from you.
You must have at least:
- $5,000 medical benefits coverage
- $15,000 bodily injury liability per person in an accident
- $30,000 bodily injury liability per accident for multiple people
- $5,000 property damage protection
If you don’t have any insurance or enough insurance to cover the other person’s damages, then you may be personally liable for paying compensation if you are the totally or even partially at-fault driver in a crash.
What do I Need for a Claim After an Accident?
If you are involved in a car accident, you should collect important information to support your insurance claim and maximize your settlement. Some evidence you should gather includes:
- Photos and videos of the crash scene
- Pictures of your car crash injuries and property damage
- The police report or crash report
- Contact information from eyewitnesses
- Insurance and driver’s license information from the other driver
- Details about the weather and environment on the day of the crash
- Whether there are any traffic cameras, dash cams, or surveillance cameras nearby
- Medical reports and bills
- Evidence of lost wages and benefits (such as vacation and sick time taken)
If you cannot collect this information immediately after a crash, you should ask someone else who is present to get it for you. Make sure you write down everything that happened as soon as possible.
Consult with a crash attorney as soon as possible so they can begin an independent investigation of the scene, talk to witnesses, and gather information to support your claim.
The insurance claims process will be similar whether you are filing a claim with your own no-fault insurance company or on the policy of the at-fault driver. In either case, you need to have an attorney by your side.
Even your own insurance company will try to pay as little as possible. They are in the business to make money, often denying and delaying claims.
Determining Who Is At Fault and How Much
One of the first things the insurance companies will do is determine who is actually at fault and by what percentage. That is because Pennsylvania uses modified comparative negligence to determine if you get paid.
Under modified comparative negligence, if you are 50% or more at fault for the crash, you cannot collect any money for your damages from the other driver. You can still file a claim with your no-fault insurance policy.
If you are less than 50% at fault, your recovery will be reduced by the percentage that you are at fault. For example, if you are deemed to be 20% at fault for the crash and have $100,000 in damages, then the at-fault driver owes you $80,000.
Filing a Claim with the Insurance Company
You must file a claim with the insurance company, asserting your damages. This can typically be completed online. You must present evidence of all your losses, including property damage, medical bills, lost wages, etc.
Negotiating with Insurance Companies
The insurance company may quickly make you a “lowball” settlement offer. This initial settlement offer is rarely enough to cover all your damages. You should never take an insurance company’s initial proposal and never sign any type of release of claim.
You should work with a personal injury attorney familiar with the negotiation process to get the maximum compensation possible. Your lawyer can adequately determine how much your case is worth and make an appropriate demand. The insurance company will likely return a counteroffer.
The negotiation process can continue for months or even up until trial. If they refuse to make a fair offer, you may have to file a lawsuit and take them to court.
Working with an Attorney
You should never speak to the insurance company on your own. They will use everything you say against you to reduce or deny your claim. Instead, allow your attorney to work as an intermediary between yourself and the insurance company.
Your lawyer will present your case to the insurance company, build evidence to support your damages, and negotiate to get you what you deserve.
Turn to Czekaj Law, LLC for Help with Your Insurance Claim
Whether you are making an insurance claim against the at-fault party or with your own no-fault insurance policy, you should find an accident attorney who can help you maximize the amount of money you can get to cover your losses.