Drake, Hileman & Davis, PC

What Should You Do After a Car Accident Involving an Uninsured Driver in Pennsylvania?

May 31, 2023

In Pennsylvania, all drivers are required to carry liability insurance that covers injuries and property damage when they cause an accident—and, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), Pennsylvania has one of the lowest rates of uninsured drivers in the nation. Even so, with nearly 10 million licensed drivers on Pennsylvania’s roads, there are still hundreds of thousands of uninsured drivers in the Commonwealth, and this means that many residents end up getting in accidents with drivers who are uninsured.

If you have been involved in an accident with an uninsured driver in Pennsylvania, it is important to know the options you have available. While you might not be able to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurer, you may still have a variety of other options for recovering the financial compensation you deserve.

Understanding Liability After a Car Accident in Pennsylvania: An Overview

Before we talk about the options that are available for filing a claim after a car accident involving an uninsured driver, it will help to cover the basics of liability in Pennsylvania car accident cases.

In the vast majority of cases, liability for a car accident is determined based on the law of negligence. All drivers in Pennsylvania have a legal duty to exercise due care on the road, and if they fail to meet this duty, they can be held liable for negligence. Driver negligence can take many different forms—including (but not limited to):

  • Speeding, tailgating, and passing dangerously
  • Running red lights and stop signs
  • Driving while drunk or high
  • Driving while distracted (including texting behind the wheel)
  • Turning or merging without the right of way

But driver negligence isn’t the only possible factor in a car accident. Other forms of negligence can lead to car accidents as well. Hiring inexperienced drivers, performing negligence service on a vehicle, and selling alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person are just a few examples of “third-party” negligence that can lead to serious and fatal collisions.

Additionally, while negligence is to blame for the vast majority of car accidents, other factors can come into play as well. For example, some car accidents result from vehicle defects. In these cases, liability isn’t based on negligence but rather on automotive manufacturers’ absolute duty to avoid putting dangerous vehicles on the road.

Options for Recovering Your Losses After a Car Accident Involving an Uninsured Driver

With these principles of liability in mind, we can begin to see that there are a variety of possibilities for filing a claim after a car accident in Pennsylvania. Depending on the circumstances involved, following an accident involving an uninsured driver, it may be possible to file a claim against:

  • The Driver’s Employer – If the uninsured driver was working at the time of the accident, his or her employer could be liable for your injuries and property damage. Under Pennsylvania’s law of “vicarious liability,” employers are generally responsible for their employees’ negligence within the scope of their employment.
  • The Driver’s Rideshare Company – Uber and Lyft both carry insurance that covers accidents involving their drivers. Whether you were getting a ride or you got hit by an Uber or Lyft driver, recovering your losses after a rideshare accident may involve filing a claim with the rideshare company’s insurer.
  • A Bar, Restaurant, Nightclub or Social Host – Under Pennsylvania’s dram shop law, bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and other establishments can be held liable for serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals and individuals who are under the age of 21. Social hosts can be held liable in similar circumstances. If you were injured in a DUI accident and the drunk driver was uninsured, the dram shop law may protect you.
  • A Vehicle Manufacturer – Vehicle manufacturers can be held “strictly liable” for accidents that involve vehicle defects. This means that proof of negligence is not required. If driver negligence and a vehicle defect both played a role in your car accident, your lawyer may be able to help you recover your losses from the manufacturer.
  • A Repair Shop or Dealership – Repair shops and dealerships can be held liable when their technicians perform negligent maintenance work or repairs. Even if a vehicle isn’t defective when it leaves the factory, if it is unsafe due to a repair shop or dealership’s negligence, you could still have a claim outside of auto insurance.

Along with these potential options for recovering your losses after a car accident involving an uninsured driver, there is one more important possibility. While not mandatory in Pennsylvania, many drivers opt to purchase uninsured motorist (UM) coverage when shopping for auto insurance. As its name suggests, this coverage protects you when you get injured in an accident caused by an uninsured driver:

  • Uninsured Motorist (UM) Insurance – When you get injured in a car accident involving an uninsured driver and you have UM insurance, your insurance company “stands in the shoes” of the uninsured driver’s insurer. This means that your insurance company will try to deny liability, and it will be up to you to prove that you are entitled to coverage. But, if you (or your lawyer) can prove that the uninsured driver was at fault, then you can recover full compensation for your losses up to your UM policy limit.
  • Stacking UM Coverage – If you have more than one vehicle with UM coverage, you may have opted for “stacking” when you purchased your policy. With stacking UM coverage, you are able to combine your policy limits to increase the amount you can recover for a single claim.

Contact Us for a Free, No-Obligation Consultation

Getting hit by an uninsured driver can be scary, and the aftermath of the accident can be extremely frustrating. But help is available, and you can hire a lawyer to fight for just compensation on your behalf at no out-of-pocket cost. To discuss your options with a lawyer at our offices in Allentown, Bethlehem, Doylestown, Easton or Stroudsburg, call us at 888-479-9197 or tell us how we can reach you online now.