"Who Pays For Car Accidents in West Virginia, Ohio or Pennsylvania?"
Three states, three different systems, one law firm that understands it all
When car accidents happen, the last thing most people think about is which state their crash occurred in. But where your accident took place can make a dramatic difference in how you obtain the money you rightfully deserve for your crash.
At Recht Law Offices, we know the difference. That's because our experienced auto accident attorneys handle cases in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania. That's why we want to meet with you. We know the rules and understand how to get results.
West Virginia vs. Ohio vs. Pennsylvania auto insurance system
These three states each have their own unique forms of car insurance.
- West Virginia and Ohio have "fault" car insurance systems, with unique insurance requirements and some other different laws.
- Pennsylvania has a "choice no fault" car insurance system.
Sound different? They are. That's why we created this guide. Each state's insurance system presents its own distinct challenges. And our lawyers know how to tackle tough cases in all three states, no matter what the circumstances of your crash.
West Virginia's 'fault' auto insurance system
In West Virginia, it's the at-fault driver's responsibility to compensate other people injured in a motor vehicle accident. This includes other drivers and anyone else who sustained an injury in the accident caused by the at-fault driver. The same type of system is used in most states nationwide.
West Virginia's comparative fault system
West Virginia's comparative negligence system measures what percentage someone was at fault, then uses that number to adjust how much money someone receives for their crash caused by another driver.
For example, if you were 20 percent at fault, you would receive 20 percent less than your total amount of compensation. As a result, if your accident-related expenses totaled $100,000, you would only receive $80,000 if you were 20 percent at fault.
The cutoff for compensation is 50 percent. If you are found to be more than 50 percent at fault in your accident, you cannot obtain any compensation for your crash.
Ohio's 'fault' car insurance system
Ohio's system is quite similar to West Virginia's in that it is also a "fault" or "at-fault" system. Under Ohio law, the at-fault driver must compensate you and anyone else who was injured in your accident. This could include other drivers, passengers, motorcyclists or even pedestrians.
Like West Virginia, Ohio has a comparative fault system. But there's a subtle difference between the two states. Instead of having the 50 percent fault rule like West Virginia, Ohio has a 51 percent fault restriction. In other words, someone who is exactly 50 percent at fault can still recover in Ohio, but not in West Virginia - while someone who is 51 percent at fault is barred from recovery in either state.
Pennsylvania's 'choice no-fault' car insurance system
Pennsylvania takes a very different approach to car accidents. Like a handful of other states, Pennsylvania has a "no-fault" auto insurance system. That means you file an accident claim with your own insurance company, regardless of who was at fault in your crash.
However, Pennsylvania is not strictly a "no-fault" state. Drivers here have a choice. If they want, they can choose between "fault" or "no-fault" insurance coverage. That's because Pennsylvania drivers can choose between "full tort" and "limited tort" coverage.
'Full tort' vs. 'limited tort' insurance in Pennsylvania
Tort is a legal term used to refer to a lawsuit for compensation due to a wrongful or negligent act. In terms of full versus limited tort car insurance, the differences concern your ability to pursue compensation for your accident-related expenses.
Limited tort insurance allows injury victims to take legal action to obtain compensation for medical costs. However, accident victims cannot sue for other accident-related expenses unless their injury is considered severe.
Full tort insurance allows injury victims to take legal action and pursue compensation for all accident-related expenses. As a result, injury victims are not bound by any restrictions (such as the severity of their injury or specific dollar amounts) and can potentially obtain more money.
Minimum insurance requirements in West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania
Every state sets its own minimum insurance requirements - that is, the minimum amount of insurance that all vehicles registered and insured in that state must carry. Drivers can choose to buy additional coverage above and beyond those limited requirements.
West Virginia's minimum amount of insurance coverage:
- $20,000 for injuries to one person
- $40,000 for all injuries per accident
- $10,000 for property damage
- $20,000 per person for uninsured motorist coverage (UIM)
- $40,000 per accident for UIM
Ohio's minimum amount of insurance coverage:
- $25,000 for injuries to one person
- $50,000 for all injuries per accident
- $25,000 for property damage
Pennsylvania's minimum amount of insurance coverage:
- $15,000 for injuries to one person
- $30,000 for all injuries per accident
- $5,000 for property damage
Pennsylvania also gives drivers the option of obtaining $35,000 worth of insurance for all accident-related expenses.
Such figures might seem like a lot of money. But many motor vehicle accidents end up costing far more money. As a result, it always pays to hire a lawyer to serve as your advocate for the maximum compensation you deserve.
What you can be compensated for after your auto accident
Many people don't take into account all accident-related expenses. Instead, they often only count expenses immediately after their accident, such as costs related to emergency medical treatment. But such expenses are often only the beginning.
In many cases, accident victims and their families deal with the aftermath of their accident for months or years afterwards. Other times, you may sustain a permanent injury which leaves unable to work for the rest of your life. We also often work with families mourning the loss of a loved one in a fatal car accident.
In each one of these scenarios, your accident-related expenses can easily add up to hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars. Such expenses can include:
- Medical expenses
- Ongoing physical therapy
- In-home nursing care
- Repairing or replacing vehicle
- Lost income during recovery
- Lost future income if you cannot return to work
- Home modifications if you or loved one sustains a permanent disability
- Pain and suffering
This is a partial list of possible accident-related expenses. Your unique list could be very different. We can help you come up with an accurate estimate of how much your accident will impact your family for the rest of your lives. That way, we can negotiate with insurance companies for the full, fair amount you deserve for your crash.
Accidents involving uninsured or underinsured drivers
Just because West Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania require all drivers to have car insurance doesn't mean everyone actually follows the law. Some drivers fail to get auto insurance. If you have an accident with an uninsured driver, getting the compensation you deserve can be confusing.
The same applies to accidents involving underinsured drivers. Underinsured drivers are defined as drivers who don't have enough car insurance coverage to compensate you for the full cost of your accident.
Your ability to be compensated will be much easier if you have uninsured motorist (UM) or underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage. West Virginia drivers are required to carry UM, while UIM is optional (but insurance companies are required to offer it). Both types of coverage are optional in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but we do recommend that all drivers carry them.
If you have UM coverage, you can file a claim with your own insurance company if you are hit by an uninsured driver. UM also covers you if you are injured in a hit-and-run accident where the at-fault driver is never found. UIM coverage will likewise allow you to file a claim with your own insurance company if you are hit by a driver who has some liability coverage, but not enough to fully compensate you.
However, legal cases arising from uninsured driver accidents can be very tricky. Contact our law firm right away if you've been hurt in any one of these types of accidents. We know how the legal system works in all three states. We can analyze your accident and explain all the options available to you.
How our law firm can help you
Just because your accident seems straightforward doesn't mean getting the money you deserve will be simple. In most cases, auto accidents turn out to be far more complicated than many people suspect.
And whether you're dealing with an insurance company in West Virginia, Ohio or Pennsylvania, it's important to remember one thing - most insurance companies (even your own) don't have your best interests at heart. Instead, insurance companies only care about making money. And that means they will do anything to reduce or deny your accident claim.
Insurance companies don't scare us. We know how to take them and win. That's why we have such a strong track record of success. That's why accident victims turn to us time and again when it matters most. That's why we want to meet with you. Reach out to Recht Law and schedule your free case evaluation right now.