An uninsured driver is one who simply has no valid insurance at the time of an accident. There is no insurance coverage available to compensate you for any injuries you sustain in an accident caused by the uninsured driver. An underinsured driver, on the other hand, is a driver who has insurance, but the coverage available to compensate you for your injuries is less than the value of your potential personal injury claim.
There are many individuals in Philadelphia who drive without insurance, even though it is illegal on PA. If you were in a car accident with a driver that was uninsured, you might be wondering how you will recover compensation for your injuries and the damage to your vehicle. Fortunately, you can sue an uninsured driver for a car accident, and there may be other options available to handle your damages too. If you or a family member was struck by an uninsured driver, you should consult with an experienced Philadelphia car accident lawyer. At The Reiff Law Firm, our lawyers have over four decades of experience handling complex car accident cases. Our lawyers are here to explain when you can sue if you are hit by an uninsured driver in Philadelphia.
Insurance Requirements for Drivers in Philadelphia, PA
Pennsylvania requires that each driver purchases car insurance with certain coverage in certain amounts. That does not mean, however, that each Philadelphia driver purchases this required insurance. In fact, the most recent data from the Insurance Research Counsel found that approximately 13% of United States drivers are driving without insurance. In Pennsylvania, that number is only about 7%, but the number of uninsured/underinsured drivers in Philadelphia is significantly higher? Why? Mostly money. Insurance rates in Philadelphia average about $2,100 annually. For a city with a per capita yearly income of $37,275 (with zip codes closer to $21,000), insurance is a huge expense.
Understanding that there will be drivers with no insurance coverage or insufficient insurance coverage, Pennsylvania also requires insurance companies to make available “Uninsured Motorist Coverage” and “Underinsured Motorist Coverage.” These coverages are not mandatory but are included in your coverage unless you specifically sign a rejection of this coverage. Should you opt to keep this coverage, it is provided in the same amount as your bodily injury coverage. For example, if you select an insurance policy providing $100,000/$300,000 bodily injury coverage (to cover losses to another driver if you cause an accident), and opt to keep UM/UIM coverage, it will also be in the amount of $100,000/$300,000 (unless you specifically sign a waiver for a lesser or greater amount).
What does UM/UIM coverage mean? Using the amounts set out above as an example, if you are unfortunate enough to be in an accident caused by an uninsured driver, you may now make a claim against your insurance company for amounts up to $100,000 to compensate you for your injuries. Or, in the event the other driver is underinsured, you may claim up to $100,000 to compensate you for the difference between that driver’s available insurance coverage and the value of your potential personal injury claim. Unfortunately, you cannot claim UM and UIM coverage for the same accident.
How Does My Car Crash Get Covered if the Other Driver Doesn’t Have Insurance?
If you are struck by an uninsured driver in Philadelphia, what happens next can vary. You can sue the negligent driver for causing the accident, and a car accident lawsuit may get you the full compensation you need. You may have other options for recovering compensation, but you should always talk to a lawyer about them before accepting any payments.
All Pennsylvania residents are required to have automobile insurance meeting certain minimum requirements. The mandatory minimums for car insurance in Pennsylvania are:
- Bodily injury liability insurance – $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident
- Property damage liability insurance – $5,000
- First-party benefits medical payments – $5,000
Additional coverage may be available for “uninsured” or “underinsured” coverage. This will step in to pay you additional funds if your first-party benefits are not enough to cover your accident and the other driver either has no insurance or their insurance is still too low to cover your needs. Pennsylvania does not require a motorist to have uninsured or underinsured insurance coverage, and motorists must purchase uninsured and underinsured coverage as an addition to their insurance policy. The minimum option for uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in Pennsylvania is $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident.
Unfortunately, if you are hit by an uninsured driver and suffer serious bodily injury and damage to your vehicle, the minimum limits of uninsured motorist coverage may not cover all your expenses. If your insurance policy cannot cover the costs of your injuries, it may be wise to file suit against the other driver.
If you need more information about uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage in Pennsylvania, you should speak with an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer.
What to Do if You Are in an Accident with an Uninsured Motorist
If you are in an accident with an uninsured motorist, there are some actions you should take if you wish to file a lawsuit later. The first thing you should do is seek medical attention for you or any individuals who were injured during the crash. You should also take the time to call law enforcement to the scene.
The negligent driver may not have insurance, but there are other pieces of information that you can ask for. You should get the driver’s address, the make and model of the vehicle, the license plate number, and their license and registration info (if their car is registered). You should also take photographs of your injuries and the damage to both vehicles. If there were any people who witnessed the accident, you should ask them for a statement and their contact information for future use. You should also make a note of any adverse weather or lighting conditions that were present when the accident happened.
Once the police arrive and inspect the scene of the accident, you should request a copy of the police report. You should also inform your insurance company of the accident as soon as possible.
If your insurance policy is not enough to cover the damages caused by the uninsured driver, you can still sue the driver personally. If you choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the negligent driver, you should be aware of the filing deadline for your case. In Pennsylvania, personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of the accident. If you do not file your claim within this two-year window, the court may bar your claim. This law is referred to as the “statute of limitations.”
There are other benefits to filing your case early besides meeting the statute of limitations’ deadline. For example, the witnesses you procured for your case will find it easier to recount the details of the accident if the case is started quickly. Any evidence you may need to prove your case will also be easier to find and collect if you begin to prepare for a lawsuit as soon as possible.
Our Philadelphia Personal Injury Attorneys Can Help You File Suit Against an Uninsured Driver
If you or a family member was injured in an accident with an uninsured driver, you should speak with an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney. The attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm are here to help you build your injury case against an uninsured driver. To schedule a free consultation, call us at (215) 246-9000, or reach us online.