Many car wrecks happen every day across Pennsylvania, and there are laws that govern how you should conduct yourself after they occur. You need to adhere to those laws closely, or you can get yourself in some serious trouble. You should also know about when you should sue another driver if they hit you and the factors that make it likely you’ll win or lose your case.
For instance, you might consider suing a driver in Pennsylvania who hit your vehicle, even though the wreck did not injure you. Is this a smart idea? We’ll discuss it in the following article.
Pennsylvania is a No-Fault State
Before we get into whether you can sue after a no-injury Pennsylvania accident, you should know that it’s one of the so-called “no-fault” states. What that means is that you first need to look to your own insurance provider to pay for any damages, even if the other driver caused them.
Your insurance policy in Pennsylvania should pay for at least some of those damages regardless of whether you hit the other car or vice versa. You can collect from your own insurance, and that might be enough to pay for whatever you need to fix following the accident.
Can You File an Additional Lawsuit?
After you have gone to your insurance provider and gotten them to pay for what your policy says they need to cover, you might have some additional bills left over. You are within your legal rights to sue the other driver, though there’s little point if your suit does not have merit.
Talking to an attorney will definitely help you determine whether suing the other driver makes sense or not. An experienced lawyer who has handled a lot of these cases can advise you on what to do. There are some lawyers who handle these lawsuits exclusively since car wrecks are a relatively common occurrence.
What About if the Car Wreck Caused No Injuries?
There is a particular car wreck type that can happen in Pennsylvania that is worth discussing. This is an accident where a car hits your vehicle, but you sustain no physical damage. Maybe this happens to you, and you first go to your insurance company, as is common in a no-fault state.
After you get your insurance company to pay you what they must according to your policy, you might still have expenses, even if the wreck did not injure you. For instance, maybe the car wreck damaged some property, and now you’re in a position where the owner demands you pay for it. You feel that’s unfair, though, since the other car’s driver caused the accident.
This is where fault comes into play, even in a no-fault state. Your insurance has paid as much as it needs to under the law, but there is still a party wanting you to come up with money out of pocket to pay for their destroyed property. You can certainly elect to sue the other driver in this instance to try and get the money from them to pay for the damages.
The Minimum Property Damage Amount
You should also know if you’re going to pursue damages in this situation that in Pennsylvania, one thing that every viable auto insurance policy needs to include is at least $5,000 in property damage coverage. Your insurance might kick that in if a car hits your vehicle and destroys someone’s property, but maybe that’s not enough to cover what happened.
If that’s true, you are certainly within your rights to sue the other driver. It’s not a bad idea to get a car insurance policy that covers more than $5,000 in property damages, but maybe all you can afford is the minimum.
If you’re going after the other driver to try and get them to pay for the additional property damage your $5,000 does not cover, trying to get the money from their insurance provider probably makes the most sense. However, this assumes that the other driver had insurance at all. It’s possible they didn’t since some motorists drive around without insurance in any state.
If the other driver did not have insurance, then getting the additional money from them for the property damage that your insurance did not cover should be easy enough. The law should side with you because the other driver should not have been on the road without the state-mandated minimum policy amounts.
Getting a Lawyer Will Help
If you’re in this situation, though, finding your way through the whole process is seldom easy, even if it seems as though it should be. You will almost always need to contact a skilled attorney to stand up for you in court if you have to make an appearance.
The lawyer can do a lot for you, such as proving negligence. They can investigate what happened and show evidence in court if the other driver was indeed negligent. If they were, you have a much better chance of recovering the money that will pay for the property damage your insurance didn’t cover.
If your lawyer can carefully document the property’s damage’s extent, that will help immensely. They will want to put a dollar amount on everything the crash destroyed. You’ll need to have a report that’s as specific as possible about what the wreck did and what it will cost to replace everything involved.
This is why it’s very helpful to take pictures or even video right after a car accident. Documenting things like the vehicle damage, skid marks, the weather, and so forth can come in handy quite a lot if you need to sue the other driver later.
If you did not think to do any of that, proving your case will be trickier, but your lawyer will probably have investigators on their payroll who can help. Just remember, though, that even if you do win the damages you seek, you must pay your attorney with part of that.