How Do You File an Uninsured Motorist Claim in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania law requires all drivers to be insured. At a minimum, drivers must carry $35,000 in auto insurance coverage, which includes $5,000 in property damage liability (PDL) and $30,000 in bodily injury liability (BIL) per accident.
But, despite Pennsylvania’s auto insurance requirements, many local drivers are uninsured. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), six percent of Pennsylvania residents lack auto insurance coverage. This means that when you get in an accident that is the other driver’s fault, there is a roughly one in 16 chance that the other driver won’t have the coverage you need.
But, if you have uninsured motorist (UM) coverage under your auto insurance policy, you may still be able to successfully file a claim.
What You Should Know About Uninsured Motorist (UM) Insurance in Pennsylvania
Unlike property damage liability and bodily injury liability insurance, uninsured motorist insurance is not mandatory in Pennsylvania. As a result, many people only have PDL and BIL (and MedPay, which is also mandatory) under their policies. But, if you have opted to purchase UM insurance, it could provide you with crucial coverage in the event of a collision caused by an uninsured driver.
Here are some key facts about uninsured motorist insurance in Pennsylvania:
- Uninsured motorist insurance covers you whether you are driving, riding as a passenger, walking or riding your bike when you get hit by an uninsured driver. It also provides coverage after hit-and-run accidents.
- When you buy uninsured motorist coverage in Pennsylvania, you have the option to “stack” your coverage. With stacking, you can add together your policy limits for multiple vehicles when filing a claim after an accident.
- If you have “full tort” coverage, your uninsured motorist insurance covers all of your accident-related losses, including your pain and suffering. In many cases, compensation for pain, suffering and other non-financial losses can account for the largest portion of your claim.
So, if you were hit by an uninsured driver and you have UM coverage (or a member of your household has UM coverage), now is the time to use it. Here is an overview of the process of filing a UM claim:
1. Gathering Evidence to Prove the Uninsured Driver (or Hit-and-Run Driver) was at Fault
Any time you are involved in an auto accident, you can file a MedPay claim with your insurance company. At least $5,000 in MedPay coverage is mandatory in Pennsylvania, and MedPay provides coverage regardless of fault.
Uninsured motorist coverage is different. Most people who buy UM insurance have coverage well in excess of their MedPay limits. However, while MedPay is “no-fault” auto insurance, filing a successful UM claim requires proof of fault. As a result, when you get injured in an accident involving an uninsured driver (or a hit-and-run driver), it is important to gather all available evidence as soon as possible.
2. Making Sure You Get the Medical Treatment (and Rest) You Need
When filing a UM claim, it is also important to make sure you get the medical treatment you need. You need to be able to prove that your injuries resulted from the accident, and if your auto insurance company can blame you for your medical costs because you didn’t seek treatment promptly, it isn’t going to pay.
Likewise, you need to make sure you get the rest you need for your recovery. If your doctor tells you to stay home from work, you should do so. If your injuries get worse or your recovery takes longer than necessary because you are ignoring your doctor’s advice, this could also give your insurance company grounds to dispute your claim.
3. Filing an Uninsured Motorist Claim with Your Insurance Company
Once you determine that you have a UM claim and you get the treatment you need, your next step is to file a claim with your insurance company. While you can do this on your own, you can hire a law firm to file your claim for you. Gathering all available evidence of liability requires legal knowledge and experience as well, so it is generally best to engage a law firm as soon as possible. Your law firm will also be able to assist with the remaining stages of the process.
4. Proving Liability
One of the key first steps toward filing a successful uninsured motorist claim is getting your insurance company to acknowledge liability. Once your insurance company acknowledges liability, then the remaining steps in the process all focus on determining how much you will receive for your injuries. While your insurance company will conduct an investigation (or at least it should), you do not want to rely on your insurance company’s assessment of its own obligation to pay. Instead, you should rely on your law firm to use the evidence it has gathered to prove that you are entitled to coverage.
5. Proving Damages
Proving damages (or how much you are entitled to recover) involves documenting all of the financial and non-financial costs of your injuries. Along with collecting your medical records, this includes documenting your future medical needs, loss of income, pain and suffering, and other injury-related losses. Most serious accident victims’ damages are far greater than they realize, and you do not want to unknowingly settle for less than you deserve.
6. Negotiating for a UM Insurance Settlement
When you hire a law firm to represent you, your law firm will negotiate for a favorable UM insurance settlement on your behalf. If your insurance company makes a settlement offer, your law firm will help you decide whether to accept or continue negotiating. An insurance company’s first offer rarely represents the full amount it is willing to pay, and negotiating effectively is essential for maximizing your financial recovery.
7. Taking Your Insurance Company to Court if Necessary
While most successful uninsured motorist claims are settled, sometimes accident victims need to go to court. If you need to go to court to secure the coverage you deserve, having experienced legal representation will be crucial here as well. Your law firm can help you decide if going to court is in your best interests, and if it is, your firm can start preparing for trial while continuing to negotiate on your behalf.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Car Accident Lawyer in Pennsylvania
Do you need to know more about filing an uninsured motorist claim in Pennsylvania? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly. To arrange a free, no-obligation consultation as soon as possible, call 888-777-7098 or tell us how we can reach you online today.