Looking at Other Ways of Recovering Damages for Your Losses
After a motor vehicle accident, it’s typical to gather insurance information from all parties, including the at-fault party. Pennsylvania has different laws governing auto insurance, giving auto owners the option to choose between “no-fault” at “at-fault” types of coverage. If you opt for no-fault coverage, you will always collect compensation from your own insurance company, regardless of who is at fault. However, if you choose “fault” coverage, the person at fault will be responsible for your lost wages, medical bills and other damages.
As a practical matter, when you are looking to the other party to cover your losses, you will recover compensation from that person’s motor vehicle insurance provider. But what happens if that person either had no insurance or only had insurance that covered property damage? Are you without recourse? Not necessarily.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage from Your Own Insurer
You have the option, when purchasing insurance in Pennsylvania, to add a rider to your policy that provides coverage in the event you suffer losses because of the fault of an uninsured or underinsured driver—it’s referred to as UM/UIM coverage. It is not mandatory, though!
If you have been hurt in a motor vehicle accident and you learn that the at-fault driver had no insurance or had minimal insurance, you’ll want to check your policy to see if you have a UM/UIM provision. Don’t expect your insurance agent to volunteer the information—your insurer is a for-profit business and makes more money by paying as little as possible to settle your claim. Instead, it’s in your best interests to have an experience lawyer review your policy.
Other Possible Options
Depending on the factual circumstances, you may have other avenues to pursue for compensation. If there were multiple parties at fault, you can take legal action against all of them. If one of the defendants is deemed to be more than 60% responsible for your injuries, you can recover all of your losses from that party and that party will need to seek reimbursement from other at-fault parties.
If the at-fault party was under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident, you may be able to pursue damages against the person or establishment who sold the alcohol to the defendant under dram shop and social host liability laws.
If the accident was caused by defects in the roadway—potholes, loose gravel, poorly designed curves, etc.—you may be able to sue the municipality responsible for maintaining the roads.
If the accident was caused by the malfunction or breakdown of a vehicle component, you may have a product liability claim against the designer, manufacturer, distributor or retailer.
Contact Our Office
At Barnard, Mezzanotte, Pinnie & Seelaus, we offer experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel to individuals in Pennsylvania. To set up an appointment for a free initial consultation, call us at 610-565-4055 or contact us online.
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