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Any auto accident can threaten your health and disrupt your life. But if you’ve been hit by an uninsured driver, you need extra help getting the recovery you need to heal. Pennsylvania law around being hit by uninsured drivers and hit-and-run motorists can be confusing, so work with an experienced personal injury attorney who understands the different insurance policies and knows how to find relief for you and your family.
Pennsylvania law requires drivers to maintain liability insurance on their vehicles. However, many people in Philadelphia are uninsured or underinsured and the state’s mandatory minimum insurance simply isn’t enough to cover your damages. In some cases, a driver, passenger, cyclist, or pedestrian, might be injured by a hit-and-run driver. Whether that person had insurance or not, you won’t be able to file a claim if the police can’t find them.
So, who pays If you have been hit by a no-insurance driver or have been involved in a hit-and-run accident? Much will depend on insurance choices you made for yourself and your children in the months leading up to the accident. At Berman & Associates, our personal injury attorneys have seen all kinds of uninsured and underinsured motorist cases. We can help you consider your options and find coverage for your costs.
By law, you are entitled to recover any damages caused by the crash. However, If the person who hit you is uninsured, there is a good chance they don’t have the money to pay a judgment in your favor. That’s why liability insurance is required -- to provide a safety net for people injured through no fault of their own.
The first step to determining who pays after a hit-and-run accident or a crash involving an uninsured driver is examining the kind of insurance you have on your own vehicle. Pennsylvania is a no-fault insurance state. It allows drivers to choose between no-fault and fault-based insurance policies. Which one you have can affect your choices, and your chances of recovering damages after a crash.
If you have no-fault coverage, you may submit your claim for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits directly to your own insurance provider. PIP insurance can cover hospital and medical bills, as well as lost wages or income while you heal from the crash. However, under a full-tort or liability-based policy, you will need to try to collect those damages from the at-fault driver instead.
PIP policies provide coverage up to specific policy limits connected to your choices for liability coverage. Pennsylvania only requires drivers to maintain a minimum bodily injury liability insurance of $15,000 per person or $30,000 per accident, but you can choose higher limits in exchange for higher premiums. This also makes additional coverage options available for your own medical expenses and personal injury damages (as discussed below).
A single day in a PA hospital costs an average of $2,581 (as of 2019). After a serious accident, those limited insurance payments can be used up quickly. That’s why we recommend drivers obtain the maximum PIP coverage allowed based on their liability coverage. If you are in a serious auto accident, resulting in serious or permanent impairment of bodily function or disfigurement, you can sue the at-fault driver for damages after you have exhausted your no-fault insurance limits.
While you are not required to carry it, many Pennsylvania auto insurance companies offer additional uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM) policies that can give you more options to pay for bodily injuries to you, your family, and your passengers if an at-fault driver can’t pay. You can’t control who will hit you, so it is a good idea to get the maximum policy limit allowed based on your liability coverage. The terms uninsured and underinsured are similar, but the insurance policies work slightly differently:
Uninsured Motorist Coverage applies if the person who hit you is unidentified (hit-and-run) or uninsured. Essentially, your insurance provider steps in for the other driver and pays you the insurance benefits they don’t have up to the cap you chose at the time you bought the insurance.
Underinsurance Motorist Coverage is similar, but it only applies after you have exhausted any other insurance options available. UIM policies cover personal injury damages -- including pain and suffering -- that aren’t covered by your PIP policy and exceed the other driver’s liability coverage. In some cases, you can stack UM and UIM policies to provide additional coverage after a serious hit-and-run car crash or accident with an uninsured driver.
People without insurance often find creative ways to drive anyway. One way is to borrow a car insured by someone else or have a family member maintain insurance on a vehicle they own. Pennsylvania car insurance generally follows the car, not the driver. That’s good news for people injured by uninsured drivers. It means an injured motorist, passenger, or pedestrian can file a claim with the insurance provider covering the vehicle to get access to the liability benefits even if the driver is uninsured.
At Berman & Associates, we don’t want you to have to pay for someone else’s bad choices or negligent driving. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you examine the insurance policies available after an uninsured motorist accident to make sure you get the compensation you deserve. We welcome you to contact us to speak with us about how we can help with your auto accident case.
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