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I’ve Been Hit by Driver Without Insurance. Now What?

A crash with an uninsured driver is more than an accident in Pennsylvania—it can be a nightmare.

Medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage can all fall on the victim’s shoulders—an enormous financial burden—even if the victim maintained the state’s minimum insurance requirements.

hit by uninsured driver

Pennsylvania isn’t known for having many uninsured drivers (we’re actually among ten states with the fewest). But accidents with uninsured or underinsured drivers still happen, and when they do you may need an experienced car accident attorney to advocate for your losses.

Below, the car accident lawyers from Hagelgans & Veronis explain what options are available, if you’re involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured driver.

Your Insurance May Not Be Enough

All drivers in Pennsylvania are required to maintain the state’s minimum insurance requirements. However, contrary to what you might see on popular insurance websites, mandatory coverage in Pennsylvania DOES NOT include uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Pennsylvania’s minimum insurance requirements are as follows:

  • Medical benefits ($5,000) — This pays medical bills for you and others covered on your policy regardless of fault. This coverage is sometimes referred to as personal injury protection (PIP).
  • Bodily Injury Liability ($15,000/$30,000) — If you injure someone in a car accident, this coverage pays their medical and rehabilitation expenses and any damages for which you are found liable. The $15,000 pays for injures to one person, the $30,000 represents the total available for one accident.
  • Property Damage Liability ($5,000) — This coverage is available, if you damage someone’s property in an accident and you’re at fault. (Some companies group this coverage together with bodily injury liability for a minimum total of $35,000.)

Pennsylvania is also a no-fault state, which complicates matters a bit more. Our state allows drivers to choose between no-fault insurance and traditional insurance (full tort).

With traditional insurance, you maintain your right to sue the at-fault party, and you can be sued as well. However, no-fault insurance limits a driver’s right to sue, unless the accident meets specific medical thresholds (i.e., serious or permanent impairment of bodily function or disfigurement).

The insurance coverage you have, policy limits, and whether you’ve opted in or out of the no-fault system will ultimately determine how compensation can be pursued.

Can I Sue an Uninsured/Underinsured Driver?

While there are consequences for driving without insurance in Pennsylvania, they do not guarantee equitable compensation for accident victims.

Compared to other state minimums, Pennsylvania’s insurance requirements are low—they haven’t changed since 1974!

In the event of an accident with an underinsured driver, minimum insurance requirements may not cover you or your family’s comprehensive medical costs.

Conversely, if you cause an accident, it’s unlikely minimum bodily injury coverage will cover the other driver’s complete medical expenses.

What if the at-fault driver is uninsured? Unfortunately, in Pennsylvania, you may get stuck with the bills.

While it’s possible to sue an uninsured driver, the only way it works out for you is if the driver has personal assets available to reimburse your losses. In many cases, the uninsured driver won’t have the financial means to compensate the victim, so litigation isn’t a viable course of action.

Adding uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage to your insurance policy is the best way to protect yourself from harm caused by uninsured and underinsured drivers.

Uninsured & Underinsured Coverage Explained

Auto insurance companies offer a range of elective coverages including uninsured motorist (UM) and underinsured motorist (UIM).

Here’s the breakdown of these additional coverages:

  • Uninsured motorist (UM) — This coverage applies to you, relatives residing in your household, and passengers, if injured by an at-fault uninsured motorist OR hit and run driver. This coverage DOES NOT include property damage.
  • Underinsured motorist (UIM) — This coverage applies to you, relatives residing in your household, and passengers, if injured by an at-fault motorist who does not have ENOUGH insurance to pay your claim. This coverage DOES NOT include property damage.

The sad truth is that even with these additional coverages, car accident victims may still face compensation obstacles against greedy insurance companies.

In some cases, the victim may have to fight for compensation from their personal insurer, a process that almost always requires the expertise of a Pennsylvania car accident attorney.

Here are a few important reminders to help prepare you for such an unfortunate event:

  • Obtain an official police report. Most UM/UIM policies require this documentation.
  • Maintain records of all medical treatments and related expenses. This documentation can be useful if injuries are disputed.

Claims involving an uninsured or underinsured motorist are complex in Pennsylvania. Moreover, there are few protections available to ensure victims receive fair compensation.

It’s up to individual drivers to protect themselves with additional coverages, but even then, it can be an uphill battle to make things right.

Are you a Pennsylvania driver? Get the information you need to protect yourself and your family! Follow Hagelgans & Veronis on Twitter, or ‘like’ us on Facebook.

What to Do If Your Child Is Hurt at School or Daycare

Child on a playgroundParents rely on schools and daycare facilities to provide safe and nurturing care, but these important resources sometimes break our trust.

In 2016, 2,602 suspected reports of abuse in child care facilities were recorded in Pennsylvania. A total of 186 cases were substantiated—many of the alleged perpetrators were county employees.

Below, the child abuse attorneys at Hagelgans & Veronis explain how to detect child abuse, what to do if you suspect misconduct, and how civil litigation can help reduce abuse in our state.  Continue reading “What to Do If Your Child Is Hurt at School or Daycare”

Can You Still Sue If You Have Limited-Tort Coverage?

In 1990, Pennsylvania lawmakers enacted a two tort system in an effort to reduce auto insurance premiums.  All drivers in Pennsylvania are given the choice of selecting either limited tort or full tort insurance on their private passenger motor vehicle insurance.

An individual who chooses the limited tort option pays slightly less for car insurance.  However, by choosing limited tort rather than full tort, a motorist may give up significant legal rights including the right to recover noneconomic damages for pain and suffering, inconvenience and in some cases even injuries involving scarring.

The attorneys at Hagelgans and Veronis highly recommend that you always chose full tort insurance so you can recover fair compensation for your injuries and the manner in which they have affected you and your family.

A person who elects limited tort coverage also limits the rights of his family if they are covered under the same policy and reside with him.

If a person selects the limited tort insurance, he can only recover noneconomic damages for pain and suffering if that person sustains a serious injury.

Under Pennsylvania law, a serious injury is defined as a personal injury resulting in death, a serious impairment of a body function or permanent serious disfigurement.

By selecting the better full tort insurance, a person can recover noneconomic damages for pain and suffering, whether the injury is serious or minor.   Both limited tort insurance and full tort insurance entitle a person to recover his economic losses (lost wages or unpaid medical bills) regardless of the degree of injury.

Exceptions for Limited Tort Victims

According to Pennsylvania law, serious injury is defined as a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.

This definition is broad, so depending on the injuries, a thorough presentation of the condition may be required. A skilled car accident attorney can help make the case by consulting medical experts and other professionals.

Catastrophic injuries that commonly meet the serious injury threshold include:

This is not to say that other injuries such as bone fractures, burns, and concussions won’t be considered, but you will need an experienced injury lawyer to develop your case.

Limited Tort Exceptions

In addition to serious injury, there are six exceptions that allow limited tort drivers to collect noneconomic damages for pain and suffering as if that person had elected full tort.  They include:

  • The at-fault driver is convicted for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • The at-fault driver was driving a vehicle registered in another state
  • The at-fault-driver intended to hurt himself (or others)
  • The injured person was a pedestrian
  • Injuries are the result of a defect in the design, manufacturing, repair or maintenance of a vehicle
  • The person covered by limited tort insurance is injured while a passenger in a vehicle other than a private passenger vehicle (e.g., public bus, commercial truck, shuttle, etc.)

Contact an experienced Pennsylvania car accident attorney at Hagelgans & Veronis for complete details regarding these exceptions. All of our attorneys have over 25 years of experience in personal injury law.

You will receive a free consultation from one of our knowledgeable lawyers and your cases will be handled by an experienced lawyer, not passed on to a paralegal or secretary.

Want more insight into Pennsylvania’s complex injury laws? Follow Hagelgans & Veronis on Twitter, or ‘like’ us on Facebook.

The Insurance Company Will Use Your Words Against You

Nothing is more disorienting than a car accident. The moments and days after the crash are often a blur, and few people are ever fully prepared for what’s to come.

Knowing who to call, when to call, and how to speak to an insurance adjuster is critical in injury cases.

Below, the car accident attorneys at Hagelgans & Veronis offer tips that could improve the outcome of your case should you ever be injured by a negligent driver. Specifically, we discuss why it’s often best to speak with an attorney before talking with insurance. Continue reading “The Insurance Company Will Use Your Words Against You”