Are Car Insurance Benefits Available For Post-Traumatic Stress?

Pennsylvania car insurance policies carry “first-party medical benefits,” which are the benefits owed by Pa car insurance companies to pay for medical care for those injured in PA car accidents.

Recently, a Pennsylvania woman suffered post-traumatic stress disorder following her husband’s death after a PA car accident. As pedestrians, the woman and her husband were crossing a busy street when he was struck by a car and killed by a motor vehicle. The wife was not physically injured at the scene of the accident, but shortly thereafter was diagnosed as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, for which she received ongoing medical treatment.

When the psychologically injured wife tried to collect first-party medical benefits to pay for her medical treatment, the PA car insurance company refused to pay, taking the position that first-party benefits are available only for “bodily injury” claims arising from PA car accidents. In the past, PA car insurance companies took the position that bodily injury means injuries or damage to the actual physical body such as skin, bones, cartilage, spine, discs etc.

The PA car insurance company assumed that the woman was not entitled to coverage because she suffered no bodily injury. She sued in a PA court for car insurance coverage to pay for this “psychological” treatment and won. The Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that post-traumatic stress disorder is a “disease”, and, as such it fell within the policy definition of “bodily injury”, which included the term “disease”.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious condition. While most people who experience traumatic stress do not develop post-traumatic stress disorder, medical treatment is necessary for those who do.

Pennsylvania car accident law now recognizes that first-party medical benefits must be made available to people whose injuries in PA car accidents include post-traumatic stress disorder.

The author of this Blog, Michael L. Saile, Jr., Esq. of Cordisco & Saile LLC, Attorneys-at-Law focuses his practice on fighting for plaintiffs’ personal injury and car accident victim’s rights in both Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We handle all serious injury cases including, car accidents (both limited and full tort), wrongful death, slip & fall downs, construction accidents, Septa, NJ Transit, and other cases other cases. We are located just outside of Philadelphia in lower Bucks County. We also handle Philadelphia plaintiffs’ personal injury and car accident cases. Please visit our personal injury only website at for more injury information.