If You Were Involved in an Auto Accident With an Uninsured Motorist, Our Car Accident Lawyers Can Help.
No car accident is easy. Your vehicle, which you likely rely on every day, is damaged. You and your passengers likely suffered injuries, meaning lengthy recovery times and expensive medical bills. As an accident victim, you likely take some solace in assuming that, if you get into an auto accident caused by someone else, the insurance coverage of the at fault driver should take care of any medical expenses and property damage. While Pennsylvania law requires automobile drivers to carry car insurance to appropriately cover their vehicles, unfortunately, accidents with an uninsured or underinsured driver are all too common.
$32 Million Wrongful Death
$26 Million Truck Accident
$17.5 Million Car Accident
$12 Million Product Liability
$9 Million Truck Accident
$8 Million Truck Accident
$8 Million Truck Accident
$7.5 Million Auto Accident
$6.9 Million Garbage Truck Accident
$6.5 Million Traumatic Brain Injury
$5 Million Medical Malpractice
$5 Million Bus Accidents
The last thing you want to hear following an accident is that the at fault driver doesn’t have insurance coverage, or enough insurance coverage to cover your claims. But don’t lose hope; you have options. The experienced car accident lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys are here to help you get the compensation you deserve, and the lack of insurance coverage, or coverage limits, don’t have to get in the way.
How Does Car Insurance Work?
It’s best to start with the basics: How does car insurance work? Of course, we have it, and we expect it to be there when we need it. But we often don’t think too much about how our policy, and the insurance industry itself, really works.
In the simplest terms, motor vehicle insurance is a contract between a driver (for example, you) and an insurance company. Through that contract, the insurance company agrees to protect you, your car, and sometimes passengers, from financial loss if you are involved in a car accident. Insurance policies can be difficult to understand and navigate. They often are complex, confusing, and can even appear to be written in a different, unfamiliar language. The confusion is made worse by the fact that there are many different kinds of insurance, and most policies can be customized based on what a driver needs or wants and what the state minimums are for drivers. Coverage can also depend on factors specific to you and your situation, for example, whether the vehicle is owned outright or if it is leased or financed.
And in exchange for protecting you in case of a car accident, the driver agrees to pay the insurance company an agreed-upon “premium” (a monthly or annual fee established by the policy and paid to the insurance company) and in return, the insurance company agrees to pay for certain expenses that can occur when the driver is involved in an accident.
Pennsylvania is a “no fault” state. That means that your insurance policy covers your own injuries, regardless of who was “at fault” in the accident. That makes and uninsured motorist claim somewhat less dangerous, because you will make an insurance claim to your own company, not the at fault driver’s. However, to recover for damage done to your car, you do still file a claim with the at fault driver’s insurance company, so an uninsured motorist can still be problematic.
What Are the Insurance Coverage Minimums in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles, all motor vehicles that are subject to registration with the Commonwealth (such as cars, vans, motorcycles, recreational vehicles, trucks, and busses) must carry liability insurance. Liability insurance just means insurance that covers the property damage or injuries you may cause others in an accident.
Your policy must cover, at minimum:
- $15,000 for injury or death of one person in an accident
- $30,000 for injury or death of more than one person in an accident
- $5,000 for property damage
If insurance does not cover the entirety of your damages, the at fault driver could be personally responsible for making up any difference with their own money or assets.
Won’t My Normal Insurance Policy Just Cover Me If I’m Involved In An Accident?
Not necessarily. It may be that your policy automatically included protection for accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers. In Pennsylvania, your insurance company must offer you uninsured motorist coverage, as well as underinsured motorist coverage, when selling you your insurance policy. That said, it not required in Pennsylvania that you actually purchase these policies, so there is always the opportunity to waive coverage.
If you carry these types of coverage, if you are involved with an uninsured driver, you make a claim directly with your own insurance company.
Uninsured Motorist Coverage
As its name implies, uninsured motorist coverage applies to protect policy holders who suffer injury from accidents with uninsured drivers. You purchase this coverage in case an at fault driver does not have an insurance policy as required by Pennsylvania law. Your own insurance policy may not automatically cover all the necessary types of damages, so it’s important that you either purchase a policy that does, or purchase supplemental protection.
That said, you are not required under Pennsylvania law to hold this coverage. However, your insurance company must offer the coverage when it offers you your policy, and you must formally reject coverage in writing, using specific form language required by the law.
Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Much like uninsured motorist coverage, underinsured motorist coverage is meant to fill a gap in your own insurance coverage. This time, your policy is meant to protect you from a situation in which the at fault driver has insurance, but just not enough to cover all the damages you suffer. This is especially important for property damage claims, given Pennsylvania’s no fault regime does not apply to those damages.
Just like with uninsured motorist coverage, a Pennsylvania driver is not required to maintain a policy with underinsured motorist coverage. But it must always be offered, and you still must waive coverage in writing using a specific form.
How Do I Make a Claim With Uninsured Motorist Coverage or Underinsured Motorist Coverage?
As discussed, Pennsylvania is a no fault state. That means that typically, your first stop will be to make a claim with your insurance company, regardless of who is at fault. Your insurance company will pay the expenses for your medical treatment and certain other expenses, up to any applicable policy limits.
However, that regime does not apply to property damage claims. For that reason, you’ll still file an insurance claim with the at fault driver’s insurance company for damage done to, or a complete loss of, your vehicle.
But what if the at-fault driver does have insurance but not enough to cover the damages? Then you can rely on your underinsured or uninsured motorist coverage. This coverage is designed to fill in the gap between your accident expenses and the coverage limits of the at-fault driver’s policy.
So for instance, if the damage done to your vehicle amounts to $20,000, and the at-fault driver’s coverage has a limit of $15,000, then you will have to make an underinsured motorist claim with your policy.
Usually, your insurance company will want some information from you, and perhaps information about the at fault driver’s coverage. But with that, your own policy can make up the difference between the damages and the at fault driver’s coverage limit.
An attorney can also help you navigate the process, given the complexities caused by the involvement of two insurance companies. This is especially important in cases where multiple insurance policies are working together to provide coverage. Insurance policy are confusing and sometimes, insurance companies try very hard to pass the buck. Experienced attorneys can help you make you work with, and if necessary fight against, your insurance company.
What If I Don’t Have Uninsured or Underinsured Coverage?
If you do not carry uninsured driver coverage on your own policy to protect against uninsured and underinsured motorists, you may have to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover damages for your medical bills and other losses. As we discussed above, in Pennsylvania, that can be somewhat complicated depending on the type of insurance policy you possess. But we’re here to help you explore your options. Our no case initial consultation is the best place for us to answer your questions, and we’re happy to discuss your case, no cost or commitment required.
Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys focuses solely on personal injury litigation. We’ve been doing personal injury for over six decades and have helped develop many trial techniques and liability theories that are still used to this day. So, if you’re in this boat, we’re here to help.
This is especially important in Pennsylvania, which has adopted a unique legal framework for claims against uninsured or underinsured motorists. This comes from the fact that Pennsylvania is a modified “no fault” state.
The regime is unique because, unlike in some other states, drivers can effectively opt out of the no fault system depending on the type of car insurance they purchase and the severity of the accident and your injuries. Your insurance company must inform of your coverage options and their effects, but there are effectively two options.
- Limited Tort Coverage: First, policies can provide “Limited Tort” coverage. This coverage means you can go to court to obtain financial compensation for medical treatment and other out-of-pocket expenses caused by a motor vehicle accident, but you cannot seek specific types of damages, like money for pain and suffering. There are exceptions, however, for certain kinds of accidents. For example, under a Limited Tort policy, if an uninsured driver causes the accident, a policyholder is not limited. These policies are sometimes attractive because the premium is less expensive per month.
- Full Tort Coverage: Second, “Full Tort” coverage does not restrict a policy holder’s right to go to court. However, these policies are generally more expensive.
Pennsylvania insurance law can be convoluted, and it’s very common to see confusing, and at times conflicting, explanations from attorneys on the internet. Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys has worked in this space for decades, and while we can give you this overview, it is always best to speak to an attorney for a personalized assessment.
There are strategic considerations you should discuss with an attorney before deciding to file a lawsuit, because filing a lawsuit is one thing, recovering money that you’re awarded as a result of a lawsuit is another. If the at fault driver simply can’t pay, or has no assets from which you can collect your money, a lawsuit might not be the best option. But you can discuss this option during a completely free consultation with a Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys personal injury attorney.
Frequently Asked Questions About Uninsured Motorist Claims
Q: Are Underinsured and Uninsured Motorists Common Since the Law Requires Minimum Insurance Coverage?
A: Unfortunately, Yes. While the law requires Pennsylvania drivers to maintain coverage, studies estimate that between 8 percent and 12 percent do not follow it. While that may seem like a small number, in 2020 alone there were 104,475 reportable traffic crashes in Pennsylvania. Even at 8-to-12 percent, the figures suggest that many crashes involve uninsured motorists.
Q: How Can a Car Accident Lawyer Help Me With My Claim?
A: Why do you need a lawyer? Put simply, a car accident, especially an accident with an uninsured motorist or underinsured motorist, will be complex. You should be able to focus on getting medical care and dealing with any damage caused by the accident. Your lawyer can focus on holding the wrongdoer accountable and getting you the financial relief you need to move forward. What’s more, especially in cases like these, there may be multiple insurance companies involved, and experienced lawyers are experts at getting what you need from insurance companies.
Here are just a few reasons you shouldn’t try to navigate the aftermath of a truck crash alone:
Lawyers can help resolve a dispute before it really starts
Of course, lawyers are familiar fighting cases in court. But, sometimes, the best option is to resolve a dispute well before a formal lawsuit. Whether you’re fighting with an insurance company or an individual party involved in the crash, getting a lawyer involved early can help get the case resolved faster. Sometimes, lawyers can do this just by being involved in negotiations. After all, people are sometimes more forthcoming if they know that you are armed and ready to take a dispute to court.
Other times, we can help by writing a formal demand letter. This is essentially a letter explaining your claim, the reasoning behind your entitlement to money, and the underlying law. Sometimes, all it takes is someone who can speak the insurance company’s language. This is especially true when there are multiple insurance policies, and at times multiple insurance companies, involved. These letters sometimes resolve cases long before a formal court case could.
Lawyers can investigate your claim and gather evidence
Don’t forget, even with insurance, you still must prove what happened. How did the car accident happen? Who was at fault? Why? Lawyers can help investigate and gather the evidence necessary to do so.
- A lawyer can identify and interview witnesses. We’ll find witnesses with information, interview them, and preserve their testimony for use in court.
- We’ll also gather documents and other physical evidence.
- Furthermore, sometimes you will need an expert witness. This could be a medical expert who can testify to your injuries and how they will impact your life. It could also be an expert tasked with calculating the different ways the truck accident has cost you money.
Lawyers will represent you in court and in negotiations with other parties
You should never have to fight against the insurance companies who stand in your way after a car accident alone. That is especially true in a situation in which an uninsured or underinsured driver are involved.
At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, we have experience working with, and against, many of the repeat players in this space. We can make sure these powerful entities don’t overpower your interests in any negotiations or informal discussions. We can also make sure that you aren’t accidentally waiving coverage or limiting your recovery through things you say to insurance companies after an accident. That is true even if you’re speaking to your own insurance company.
And, if it comes time to fight in court, Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys’s attorneys are nationally recognized for their skills in the courtroom. We’re ready to put them to work to get you the compensation you deserve. In this technical and highly convoluted area of the law, let our lawyers help lead you through to get the compensation you deserve.
Lawyers can help you estimate how much money you could recover and help you weigh your options
After a car accident, you and your family will undoubtedly have questions, and it’s completely common to not know whether, and how, to seek compensation from the at fault party. An experienced lawyer can help. At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, during a free consultation we can help you estimate how much money you could be entitled to, and we can help present your options in plain English.
Q: Why Choose Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys?
A: With so many personal injury law firms to choose from, how do you know who you can trust to fight for you and your family? Consider these factors that set Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys apart:
- Track Record – Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys has earned national recognition for our large settlements and verdicts. Our entire staff works diligently to make sure you get the maximum compensation owed to you.
- Experience – When it comes to complex personal injury cases, experience counts. Each of our partners has decades of experience representing individuals and families who have suffered serious injury or been denied benefits. Because we are a family firm, we often work closely together on our cases to achieve the best possible results for you. this day.
- Resources – At Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys, we utilize resources that are typically available only to big law firms. We work closely with our network of engineers, reconstructionists, investigators, experts, and in-house medical personnel to build your case.
- Client Satisfaction – Perhaps the best testament to our success is the satisfaction of our past clients. Learn what former Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys clients have to say about their experience with our firm.
- Our No-Fee Promise – We do not collect a fee unless we win your case. If we do not produce results for you, you owe us nothing.
Making out a claim after a car accident is never an easy situation, especially if you are not found at fault. And with an insurance company that refuses to pay you what you need, the situation can be even worse. For more than six decades, the car accident lawyers at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys have been fighting for their client’s rights against the insurance companies. We work hard to make sure you get the compensation that you deserve following an accident.
We can help you protect your legal rights, relieve some of the burdens of stress, and hold the at-fault driver accountable for their irresponsibility. Contact an uninsured motorist accident lawyer at Munley Law Personal Injury Attorneys today to schedule a free case evaluation.