Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists

Project Description

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists – Car Accident Lawyers

Kraemer, Manes & Associates LLC “KM&A” is a personal injury law firm with car accident lawyers serving all of Pennsylvania. If you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident involving serious personal injury, or you have lost  a loved one from an accident, we invite you to contact us for a consultation. Call a KM&A car accident lawyer at 412-626-5626 or email us at lawyer@lawkm.com

When you or your property are injured as a result of a car accident, you want to make sure that you receive all the compensation to which you are entitled. Yet nearly 15% of all drivers on the road today drive without insurance, and even more drive with only the minimum amount of insurance required by law. If you are in an accident with one of these drivers, obtaining an adequate amount of compensation can become a complicated and frustrating process involving an in-depth understanding of the laws governing auto insurance policies in Pennsylvania.

Auto Insurance in Pennsylvania Generally

The main law governing automobile insurance in Pennsylvania is the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, which was enacted in 1990. Based on this law, your rights after a car accident will depend on what type of policy you have.

Fault vs. No-Fault Policies

Pennsylvania is a “choice no-fault” state, which means you can choose whether you want a fault-based policy or a no-fault policy.

Some policies follow a “fault” or “full tort” system, under which the injured party can sue the driver at fault for any and all damages they have sustained as a result of the accident. The at-fault party’s insurance company will normally cover the damages if the injured party is able to prove the accident was the other driver’s fault.

Other policies follow a “no fault” or “limited tort” system, which means an injured party does not need to prove that the accident was someone else’s fault in order to receive compensation; the injured party’s own insurance company will pay for their medical expenses and lost wages up to the insurance limit. The downside of this system is that victims of a car accident are not allowed to sue the driver at fault for “non-economic” damages such as pain and suffering or emotional distress unless their injuries are severe enough.

Exceptions to No-Fault Policies

As mentioned above, a driver who has a limited tort insurance policy can still sue the at-fault driver for pain and suffering if their injuries are sufficiently severe. “Severity” of a person’s injuries oftentimes can be shown by a significant loss of use of a body part, disfigurement, permanent disability, bone fractures, or a long-term disability that will last for over 180 days.

Additionally, there are a few other ways a driver with a no-fault policy can sue the at-fault driver for damages:

  • Unlike medical expenses, owners of limited tort insurance policies can sue the at-fault driver for damage to his or her automobile or other property
  • If the at-fault driver pleads guilty or is convicted of a DUI, the injured party can sue for non-economic damages
  • If the at-fault driver is driving an out-of-state vehicle, you can sue for non-economic damages
  • If the at-fault driver intended to cause injury to himself or another person, you can sue for non-economic damages

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists - Car Accident Lawyer: 412-626-5626

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists – Car Accident Lawyer: 412-626-5626

To make sure you receive all the compensation to which you are entitled after an accident, Pennsylvania insurance companies are required to offer you the chance to purchase uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, often called UM/UIM coverage. While not mandatory, it is highly recommended that you purchase UM/UIM insurance. If you are unsure whether or not this coverage is applicable to you, chances are you have it; unless you opted out of UM/UIM coverage by filling out a waiver form when you purchased your insurance plan, it should be included under your policy.

This kind of insurance will provide compensation for you when you are injured as a result of an accident with someone who either does not carry insurance or does not carry enough insurance to pay for your injuries. If you are hit by someone who is uninsured, your insurance company will compensate you for your injuries and expenses up to your UM/UIM policy limit. If you are hit by an underinsured motorist, your insurance company will require that person’s insurance to cover what it can, and should then reimburse you for the remainder of the expenses you incur as a result of your accident.

UM/UIM coverage may also protect you if you are the victim of a hit and run by compensating you for medical expenses you incur as a result of the accident.

The limits on how much you can collect under your UM/UIM insurance will depend on the specifics of your policy.

Who Does Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage Protect?

Most UM/UIM insurance covers injuries to the following people:

  • You, while you are driving or a passenger in a vehicle named on your policy
  • You, while driving or a passenger in a vehicle you do not own
  • You, when you are a pedestrian
  • A relative, while driving or riding in a vehicle named on your policy
  • Anyone who drives or rides in a vehicle named on your policy, assuming they do so with your permission
  • Anyone riding in a vehicle you are driving but do not own

Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage in Limited Tort Policies

If you have a limited tort policy, the exceptions to limited tort policies do not apply to your UM/UIM coverage. This means that if you have a limited tort insurance policy and you also pay for UM/UIM insurance, you cannot sue the uninsured or underinsured motorist for non-economic damages, even if that driver meets one of the exceptions mentioned above.

Effect on Insurance Premiums

Assuming you were not at fault for the accident, your insurance premiums will not increase as a result of filing a claim with your insurance company under your UM/UIM policy. However, once you file a claim, your insurance company may take a stance adverse to you, and may argue that you are not entitled to all the compensation you claim you deserve. It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to make sure you are not denied the compensation you need.

Why Hire an Attorney?

When you file a claim under your UM/UIM insurance plan, you will need to negotiate with your insurance company’s claims negotiator on issues such as the other driver’s responsibility for the accident, anything you may have done that could have contributed to the accident, and the extent of your injuries and any property damage. This requires careful consideration of all the provisions in your policy and of the facts surrounding your case. An experienced personal injury attorney is in the best position to help you navigate the process and ensure you receive all the compensation you deserve.

If you were involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver, you need someone on your side who understands the nuances of automobile insurance laws in Pennsylvania and who can fight to get you the money you deserve. At Kraemer, Manes & Associates, our personal injury attorney has the experience necessary to review the facts of your case and thoroughly advise you on what to do next. Call us at 412-626-5626 for your initial consultation.

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