Pennsylvania is a what is referred to as a “no fault” state, meaning that each and every driver on the road is required to have at least some “first party benefits” as part of their motor vehicle insurance policy. These first party benefits are required over and above the usual liability coverage a motorist must have in case he or she need to pay compensation for a car crash that was his or her fault.

First party benefits help victims of car accidents on a “no fault” basis, meaning that even if a person was responsible for his or her accident, he or she can still get benefits. These benefits are also, as the named implies, awarded on a “first party” basis, meaning a motorist will go to his or her own insurance company in order to obtain them in lieu of having to sue the other motorist involved in the accident.

The downside to first party benefits is that they do not allow for “noneconomic” damages like emotional distress and pain and suffering. Depending on what coverage a person purchases though, first party benefits can cover substantial medical expenses, and also can be an important source of replacement income.

Having to buy first party benefits does not mean a Pittsburgh resident who has been injured in a car accident has no legal options against the other driver or responsible party. In Pennsylvania, a person buying insurance with first party benefits can elect to keep all of his or her rights to sue, even for damages like pain and suffering.