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Pennsylvania Motorcycle Accidents

Differences Compared to Auto Accidents

Motorcycle riders are much more likely than automobile drivers to suffer serious injuries or death from an accident. Negligence, insurance differences and helmet laws play an important role in motorcycle accident laws.

Pennsylvania Vehicle Insurance

If you plan to own a motorcycle in Pennsylvania you need to be aware that motorcycle insurance differs from auto insurance. When you insure your automobile in Pennsylvania you have the option of choosing between two coverage types: full tort or limited tort. A full tort insurance policy simply means the insured has the full rights to sue a negligent party that caused the insured pain and suffering. A limited tort insurance policy will allow the insured to obtain compensation for medical expenses but s(he) does not have the right to sue a negligent party who caused the accident for non-monetary damages including the pain and suffering caused. You are still covered for any injuries/damages to your property but you decline your right to file for compensation for other non-monetary damages. The only way for a limited policy tort holder to claim compensation exceeding medical and car repair bills have been paid is if the accident results in death, serious impairment of bodily function, or permanent serious disfigurement. Some people choose the limited tort option to save money. Most legal counsel would agree you should take the full tort option.

Most motorcycle riders also have other motor vehicles. If possible, your motorcycle should be insured on the same policy as the other automobiles in your household. Many insurance companies have sought to avoid paying underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage to victims of motorcycle accidents if the motorcycle is not included on the policy along with the other vehicles in the household. Pennsylvania drivers also have the option to stack uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. This option means you can add the coverage together for each vehicle you have insured under the same policy.

Motorcycle Insurance Options

  • When you insure your motorcycle in Pennsylvania, unlike automobiles, you do not select full or limited tort. Full tort is selected for you. It is your only choice. This means that for injuries, there is no restriction on money damages for pain and suffering you may sustain in a motorcycle accident.
  • Medical expense coverage for motorcyclists can be part of your motorcycle policy. This is highly recommended. The specifics of what those covered medical expenses are will be detailed in your policy.
  • Pennsylvania law requires a minimum of $15,000 in bodily injury liability coverage. This coverage pays any claims against you if you are found legally responsible for causing an accident.
  • Underinsured coverage for motorcyclists (will pay benefits to you in the event you are injured by a person who doesn’t have enough insurance to pay your claim) and uninsured coverage for motorcyclists (pays benefits to you in the event you are injured by a person who has no insurance to pay your claim) are optional but highly recommended.

Note: If you decline underinsured or uninsured coverage on your motorcycle, you are disqualified from collecting such coverage from your automobile policy even though you have paid premiums for the coverage.

Pennsylvania Helmet Law

The law (Title 75. Vehicles. Part III) that states the requirement for motorcycle helmets is in flux. Various groups continue to lobby for and against the helmet law requirement. The current law requires helmet use but provides exceptions for motorcycle riders over 21 who have been riding for two years or more OR who have completed a motorcycle rider safety course approved by the department or the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Passengers over 21 are not required to wear helmets.

Observing the motorcycle law in Pennsylvania may mean that you do not have to wear a helmet if you fulfill the specified conditions. However, there are two other factors to consider. A motorcycle accident is more likely to injure the motorcycle rider than anyone else. Wearing a helmet has been proven to prevent serious head trauma. There is another consideration of helmet use. In the event of a motorcycle accident injury, you must ensure that you have legal counsel like Messa & Associates who are experienced in motorcycle accident law to assist you in your claim because studies have shown that juries can be prejudiced against motorcycle riders who do not wear helmets.


Operating a motorcycle in Pennsylvania requires familiarity with the laws surrounding insurance, auto accidents and accident settlements. We recommend that you schedule a consultation with your lawyer to discuss these and other considerations in Pennsylvania motorcycle law. Call us toll free at 866.403.4LAW (4529), or fill out the contact web form if you have any questions about motorcycle accidents or law in Pennsylvania.

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