Studies have determined that one of seven (7) drivers in the United States may be uninsured, and one study in Philadelphia several years ago found that nearly one-half of motorists in Philadelphia were uninsured. When an uninsured driver is “at fault”, and causes another person injury, what are the options of the innocent injured party?
In Pennsylvania, insurance companies must offer the option of purchasing uninsurance and underinsurance coverage to the owners of motor vehicles. Uninsurance coverage means that your own insurance company essentially “steps into the shoes” of what would have been the insurance company of the uninsured driver. ln other words, if you purchase uninsurance coverage, and are injured by a driver who has no insurance, your own insurance company will be responsible to remunerate you for your pain and suffering as if it were actually the insurance company of the uninsured driver.
There are two possible limiting factors to your recovery of damages for pain and suffering from your own insurance company if you are injured by an uninsured motorist and have purchased uninsured motorists coverage: First, if your injuries are minor, and you have chosen the “limited tort” option, your insurance company may not be responsible for pain and suffering damages; and, secondly, your insurance company is only responsible to pay up to the limits (maximum amount) of coverage which you have purchased.
Underinsurance coverage is similar to uninsurance coverage, but is activated after the insurance company of the person who caused you harm has paid its maximum coverage. If that maximum coverage is insufficient to fully compensate you for your pain and suffering, you may then make a claim for underinsurance coverage against your own insurance company.
Uninsurance and underinsurance claims can be difficult to understand and process appropriately if you are not a lawyer. The involvement of an attorney may very well maximize any settlement for an uninsurance or underinsurance claim, and, a person with such a claim does have a right to have his or her claim tried before either a jury or an arbitration panel. Several of our attorneys at Feldstein Grinberg Lang & McKee have had extensive experience in processing and trying uninsurance and under insurance claims, and we handle these matters on a “contingent fee” basis, meaning that our fee (if any) is a percentage of whatever we recover for you.