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Uninsured and Underinsured Driver FAQ

All licensed motorists in Pennsylvania are required to carry a minimum amount of automobile liability insurance. Unfortunately, many drivers do not have any insurance when they are involved in car crashes. Even when the driver does have insurance, the policy limits for bodily injury are often insufficient to cover all of the damages.

The West Chester personal injury lawyers of Ciccarelli Law Offices work as a team to help clients all over Chester County who sustained injuries or lost loved ones in accidents caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers. You can find answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about these types of collisions on this section of our website.

If you were severely injured or your loved one was killed in an accident caused by an uninsured or underinsured motorist, call (610) 719-3190 or fill out an online contact form to get answers to questions about your specific case during a free, no obligation consultation.

Uninsured and Underinsured Driver Accident FAQs in West Chester, PA

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What is the difference between an uninsured and underinsured driver?

An uninsured driver is a motorist without any kind of automobile insurance that can cover the damages caused by the crash. An underinsured driver has insurance, but the policy limits are insufficient to pay for the damage caused.

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How are accidents involving uninsured and underinsured drivers different than typical crashes?

When both drivers are adequately insured, then typically a resolution is reached through the insurance companies for both motorists. Things become much more complex when one driver is uninsured or underinsured.

Accident victims may have to file lawsuits against uninsured or underinsured drivers. Depending on whether they have Uninsured Motorist (UM) or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage, they could need to file claims with their own insurance companies.

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What is the minimum amount of automobile liability insurance coverage a motorist is required to have in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania's Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act requires a 15/30/5 minimum amount of liability insurance. This means:

  • $15,000 for injuries to or death of one person for any one accident;
  • $30,000 for injuries to or death of two or more persons for any one accident; and
  • $5,000 for first party medical bills, regardless of fault, as well as the same amount for damage to another party’s property if the policyholder was at fault.

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Will I be able to recover any damages if the other motorist was uninsured?

Yes, it is possible to obtain compensation for economic and noneconomic damages when the at-fault motorist was uninsured. Drivers with UM coverage can file claims with their own insurance companies, but the victim may also be able to file lawsuits against the negligent motorists. It should be noted that most uninsured drivers do not have the financial resources to pay any monetary judgments, but an attorney can evaluate your particular situation and determine the best possible avenue for recovery.

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What are stacked policies?

Pennsylvania is a state that allows motorists to collect UM or UIM coverage for multiple vehicles on one policy. If you have UM or UIM on more than one vehicle within a single policy or you have two separate policies on the same vehicle, this is referred to as stacking. What stacking allows people to do is collect more than what the limit would ordinarily be for a single policy. For example, if you have two vehicles with $30,000 in UM or UIM coverage on each or you have one vehicle with two $30,000 UM or UIM policies, you could collect $60,000 because of the multiple vehicles or multiple policies.

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What is the difference between full and limited tort coverage?

When drivers buy automobile insurance in Pennsylvania, they will be given the option of full tort insurance or limited tort insurance. While limited tort insurance typically involves cheaper monthly premiums, it also prohibits a driver from filing a lawsuit for pain and suffering unless the accident results in a “serious injury.” Under Pennsylvania Consolidated Statute Title 75 § 1705, the definition of serious injury should be set forth in the insurance policy. Full tort coverage may cost more, but it allows motorists to assert claims for all of their losses—not just the out-of-pocket losses that limited tort coverage is limited to.

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What happens if my insurance company refuses to pay or undervalues my claim?

All insurance companies maximize their profits by paying as little as possible to resolve claims. Oftentimes this means finding reasons to deny claims altogether. Many people can experience lengthy waiting times while insurance companies claim to be investigating accidents. If an insurance company denies your claim or pays you substantially less than you are entitled to, a lawyer may be able to investigate whether the company has acted in bad faith and recover the full compensation that you are entitled to.

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How does a settlement with the negligent driver affect an insurance claim?

If an injured motorist reaches a separate financial agreement with a negligent driver in any accident case, it will generally prohibit recovery from an insurance claim. An insurance company may seek reimbursement of any injury payouts if it learns that a policyholder failed to report money that was separately received from the at-fault party. This does not mean that an accident victim cannot obtain financial damages from both the insurance company and the at-fault driver. It is just important to have an attorney review all legal agreements to ensure there are not conflicts.

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If my insurance company pays my UIM claim, will my insurance premiums increase?

No. Insurance companies are prohibited from increasing the rates on a UIM policy when compensation is the result of another driver’s negligence.

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If it’s already going to be tough to recover money, why should I pay to hire a lawyer?

Whether an at-fault driver in your accident was uninsured or underinsured, it will be a very confusing and difficult journey to obtain the compensation you need for medical bills, lost wages, and other financial damages. It is in your best interest to seek the help of an experienced personal injury attorney in West Chester, PA, before attempting to handle any of the paperwork by yourself.

Not only will legal counsel help you understand all of your legal options, a lawyer can also ensure that you do not make any mistakes that ultimately hurt the value of your claims later on. Ciccarelli Law Offices represents clients on a contingency fee basis, meaning that you pay us nothing if we do not get you a financial award. You have nothing to lose by having out attorneys review your case, so call (610) 719-3190 today to take advantage of a free consultation.

Our attorneys represent individuals for personal injury claims that occur after an automobile crash or accident in West Chester and the surrounding areas of Pennsylvania.

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