In the last edition we discussed what to do in the hours and days after the accident to ensure that you receive the proper recovery against the careless driver. Unfortunately, the decisions that you had made prior to the accident regarding automobile insurance may limit your right to recover even if you have done everything right up to this point.
If you have chosen the limited tort option on your automobile insurance you may not be protected.
When a person sits down with their automobile insurance agent the primary focus of the conversation is how you can save the most money and pay the lowest premium. The selection of the limited tort option, to save a few bucks, may be the biggest mistake you will make in choosing your auto insurance coverage.
Between 1984, when the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law was enacted, and 1990, when the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law was amended, every policy holder had full tort rights. In other words, every person injured in a motor vehicle accident had a right to seek compensation for:
1. All economic damages; and
2. All non-economic damages.
By choosing the limited tort option, the insured receives a small savings on their automobile insurance, however they waive their right and the rights of any members of their household to recover non-economic damages unless the injuries sustained are “serious.” “Serious injury,” which is determined by a judge or jury, is defined as a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of bodily function or permanent and serious disfigurement.
What if the negligent driver of the other vehicle is uninsured or does not have enough insurance to cover your injuries.
In Pennsylvania, motorists are required to have a $15,000 minimum of liability coverage to compensate another driver or pedestrian for injuries they cause as a result of their negligent or careless driving. Although it is illegal to drive without the minimum automobile insurance coverage it happens much more than you may think. There is a way to protect yourself against the person who has the minimum insurance or drives without insurance at all. This is called Uninsured or Underinsured coverage. A person can purchase coverage limits of at least $ 100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. It is not uncommon to see an informed driver obtain coverage for as much as $250,000 per person/$500,000 per accident. Consider this to be your personal insurance policy against those who choose to drive with the minimum limits required by law or who drive without insurance at all.
The purchase of uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage could be the smartest thing you do to protect yourself and your family from possible financial disaster. The ability to recover uninsured/underinsured benefits may enable you to keep your home, avoid bankruptcy or obtain the appropriate medical treatment that you need. You should discuss the uninsured/undcrinsured motorist coverage with your agent and discuss the stacking options which also can be purchased on your auto insurance coverage. Stacking simply means that for every vehicle in your household you can obtain extra coverage. Choosing the appropriate uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage can afford a tremendous amount of protection tor you and your family should a tragic accident occur.
With proper guidance you can choose the appropriate automobile insurance that protect both you and your family from others who are operating their vehicles in a negligent or illegal manner.
By choosing full tort over limited tort you will obtain the full protection that the law allows against these drivers. Also, by choosing an appropriate amount of uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits, with stacking, you can protect you and your family from the devastating consequences of a tragic injury. For a free consultation to discuss your legal rights please contact Rolf Louis Patberg at the law firm of Patberg, Cannody & Ging at 412.232.3500.