If you or someone you know are injured in a motor vehicle accident while an occupant of a motor vehicle or as a
pedestrian or on a
bicycle, due to a negligent driver, then you have the right to seek compensation for your
personal injuries, which consist of your bodily injuries, medical expenses and lost wages, from the negligent driver's automobile insurance company. However, do in part to the fact that the Pennsylvania legislature has not raised the minimum liability limit required on automobile insurance policies issued in Pennsylvania since the 1970's, many negligent drivers do not possess sufficient liability insurance to fully compensate their injured victims. What happens when the negligent driver does not have enough automobile insurance to fully compensate all of the injured victims in a motor vehicle accident? Fortunately, you may still have a remedy to obtain
full compensation for your injuries. In Pennsylvania, all automobile insurance policies offer as an option underinsured motorist benefits for an amount up to the liability limits selected on the same automobile insurance policy. Underinsured motorist benefits are extra coverage that a person can obtain from their own automobile insurance company that will provide additional compensation for injuries sustained by all insureds under the policy and all occupants in the insured vehicle if the insured vehicle is involved in the accident. After an injured person receives the liability policy limit from the underinsured, negligent driver's automobile insurance company, the injured person may then seek underinsured motorist benefits for an amount up to the underinsured motorist benefit policy limit or up to an amount that will (along with the negligent driver's liability insurance payment) fully compensate the injured person, whichever comes first. It should also be noted that since underinsured motorist benefits are only paid based on the
negligence of another driver, the policyholder's premiums will not go up by the payment of underinsured motorist benefits under their policy.
As mentioned above, underinsured motorist coverage is an option on automobile insurance policies issued in Pennsylvania. So there is no guarantee that underinsured motorist benefits will be available in each accident. Fortunately, a person injured by an underinsured driver may have several automobile insurance policies available to them, one or more of which may contain underinsured motorist benefits. The first automobile insurance policy the injured person must look to is the policy insuring the vehicle they were occupying at the time of the accident, even if it is not their own vehicle. The second policy to look to is their own automobile insurance policy that they are a named insured on, even if their own vehicle was not involved in the accident. The third policy for the injured person to look to is the automobile insurance policy or policies issued to all household relatives of the injured person, as the injured person is also an "insured" under these policies as long as they are related to and live with the policyholder (such as a grandparent, parent, sibling, child or grandchild), even though the household vehicle was not involved in the accident.
If you or someone you know is struck by a negligent, underinsured driver while the occupant of a motor vehicle or as a pedestrian or on a bicycle, you should always consult with an experienced personal injury lawyer to determine whether you have the ability to pursue a claim for bodily injuries, medical expenses and lost wages caused by a negligent driver.