Important Pennsylvania Car Accident Laws




Car accident laws are not uniform across the nation. Each state has its own reporting requirements, the methodology of how fault is determined, and restitution allowances. There are important Pennsylvania car accident laws that you need to be aware of if you ever involved in a car accident within the state.

Time Limits

Reporting Requirements

You are required to file an accident report with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation within five days of the accident if: 

  1. Police did not investigate the crash
  2. Someone was injured or killed
  3. There was severe property damage

Failure to report an accident might result in you having your license suspended.

Statute of Limitations

Pennsylvania Code 42 section 5524 says that an action to recover damages for injuries to the person or the death of an individual caused by the wrongful act or neglect or unlawful violence or negligence of another must be filed within two years of the occurrence.

Financial Damage Rewards

Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law

Under the PMVFR law, drivers have the option to choose the insurance coverage that either uses no-fault rules or regular rules. Those who choose no-fault rules, also called limited tort coverage, can only recover from their own insurance company, and cannot recover non-economic damages in the crash unless they suffered a serious injury.

Drivers who choose the regular fault rules on their car insurance policy, called full tort coverage, can file a lawsuit against the driver that caused the accident and be eligible to recover non-economic damages for their injuries, such as compensation for their pain and suffering.

Comparative Negligence

Pennsylvania uses a modified comparative fault rule when both parties have some degree of fault for a car accident. In the majority of car accident cases, the jury is tasked with calculating two things based on the evidence presented:

  1. The complete dollar amount of damages to the plaintiff
  2. The percentage amount of fault for each party involved in the accident

Under Pennsylvania’s modified comparative fault rule, the plaintiff's damages award would be reduced to a percentage equal to their share of fault in the accident.

Since Pennsylvania follows modified comparative fault rules, you would not receive any compensation if the jury finds you to be more than fifty percent at fault for the car accident. A modified comparative fault state is different from a pure comparative fault state, where you can recover damages even if you are more at fault than the other party. In Pennsylvania, you cannot be more than 50 percent at-fault to recover damages from any other at-fault party after a car accident.

Limits on Damages

The majority of damage caps are unconstitutional according to the state of Pennsylvania’s Constitution. There are exceptions, however, for claims against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and local governments, which are limited to a maximum of $250,000 and $500,000, respectively. 

The laws that apply to car accidents in Pennsylvania can be complex. To receive the full amount of compensation that you are entitled to, contact an attorney experienced in Pennsylvania car accident law.

For more information or to schedule a consultation with us, call (412) 804-4048. Our office is located in Pittsburgh. Call Kim A. Bodnar, Attorney at Law today.

NOTE: This is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.


Posted on: December 10, 2018 by Kim Bodnar