An important decision – the types of coverage you select when purchasing your motor vehicle insurance.
Many Pennsylvania residents do not understand when purchasing their motor vehicle insurance that their coverage selections will determine what they or any family member residing with them is able to recover if injured in a motor vehicle accident that is not their fault.
Full Tort or Limited Tort?
One of the most important decisions is whether or not to select the full tort option or the limited tort option. You pay a slightly higher premium if you select full tort coverage but it makes you eligible to receive pain and suffering damages as long as your injuries are accident related. With limited tort, however, you must sustain a “serious injury” in order to recover pain and suffering damages. Serious injury is defined as “A personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function, or permanent serious disfigurement.” 75 Pa. C.S.A. §1702.
First-Party Medical and Income Loss Benefits
The Car Accident Attorneys at Berger and Green recommend the selection of first-party medical and income loss benefits. Medical benefits are required to be purchased in Pennsylvania at the minimum of $5,000.00. You can, however, purchase additional benefits. If your benefits exhaust and you have health insurance coverage, your health insurance then is the appropriate source of payment for accident related medical expenses. If you do not have health insurance coverage, you should purchase additional benefits to protect you since the carrier for the at fault party does not have to directly pay your medical expenses and consideration for that treatment will not be given until the claim would settle or an award is given by a jury. You should also be aware if you rely upon an HMO or an employer sponsored self-funded health care plan, your health insurer may be entitled to recovery out of your settlement or verdict.
Income loss benefits are optional but extremely important. If you are injured in an accident, the carrier for the at fault party will not give consideration for income loss until the claim is settled or a jury awards you damages. This leaves those employed who do not have disability coverage through their employer, without any income until they are able to return to work or his/her claim settles. If you purchase first-party income loss benefits, your carrier will make monthly payments to you provided your doctor provides proof of disability and your employer provides proof of employment and income.
Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Benefits Coverage
The selection of uninsured and underinsured motorist benefits coverage is also very important. You are eligible to obtain the same amount of uninsured and underinsured motorist benefits coverage as your liability coverage (the coverage that applies when you are at fault for an accident and injure someone else.) Uninsured motorist benefits coverage provides benefits if you are injured as the result of a driver who does not have a source of insurance. Underinsured motorist benefits coverage applies if you are injured as the result of a driver who does not have enough insurance to compensate you for your injuries. The minimum coverage required in Pennsylvania is $15,000.00 per person. We have represented individuals who have sustained permanent disabling injuries when the responsible party only had $15,000.00 in coverage. Therefore, if underinsured motorist benefits coverage is purchased the injured victim is eligible to recover up to the limit of his/her underinsured motorist benefits coverage. Another word of advice, DO NOT REQUEST LOWER UNINSURED OR UNDERINSURED MOTORIST BENEFITS, keep those limits the same as your liability coverage. Also, ALWAYS SELECT STACKING OF UNINSURED AND UNDERINSURED MOTORIST BENEFITS COVERAGE, this allows you to multiply your uninsured and underinsured motorist benefits coverage by the number of vehicles on your policy or possibly, other policies within your household.
When purchasing motor vehicle insurance in Pennsylvania, the lawyers at Berger and Green recommend that you carefully review your options. If you were seriously injured in a car accident and have questions regarding your benefits please contact the Personal Injury Attorneys at Berger and Green. We will evaluate your right to recover money damages for free. We would like the opportunity to speak with you.