Auto / Car Insurance Law
The law relating to auto insurance is found in a statute entitled Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Act, 75 P.S. Section 1701. The law contains the duties and responsibilities of both the insurer and the insured.
The insured, when purchasing auto insurance has the option to select full tort or limited tort. While limited tort is described by insurance agents as being more attractive than full tort in that it is less expensive, it is a mistake to select limited tort. The reason for this is the savings is minimal and if you or your family are injured due to the negligence and carelessness of another driver, by selecting limited tort you have given away most of your rights, to save only approximately $100.00 a year. The courts have strictly interpreted the limited tort selection and have thrown a lot of people out of court who otherwise have legitimate claims because they selected limited tort. In selecting limited tort you give up your right to sue except if you have a serious injury. A serious injury has been defined as death, disfigurement or a serious impairment of a body function. The courts are finding a lot of injuries that may be considered serious to the individual not to be serious. Therefore, it is important that full tort be selected on the auto insurance policy for full protection to your family.
In the event you are in an automobile accident, you should know that your auto insurance company is required under law to pay your medical bills up to the amount of your coverage, 80% of your gross income in the event you selected wage loss coverage. Medical bill coverage is mandatory and every person purchasing auto insurance in Pennsylvania must purchase at least $5000.00 in medical bill coverage. Wage loss coverage is optional and you do not have to select this coverage. This gives them no protection in the event they are injured in an accident, unless they have their own disability policy. A lot of people when purchasing auto insurance do not select wage loss coverage. A lot of people have trouble making ends meet if they don't have wage loss protection on their policy or through their own disability policy. People think that because someone else was at fault the at fault party is automatically going to begin paying your wage loss. This is not rue. It is true that wage loss and loss of earnings is a part of any claim that you may have against the other driver, however, the insurance company for the other driver wants to settle all claims at one time and will not pay claims piecemeal.
Another optional coverage is uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage. This coverage is very important and should be selected by anyone purchasing auto insurance. Uninsured motorist coverage protects you in the event that you are hit and injured by a driver who is uninsured. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people driving without insurance and if you are hit by an uninsured driver the odds are great that this uninsured driver will not likely have any assets from which you can collect in the event you file a claim. But if you have uninsured motorist coverage you will be able to make a claim against your own company for the benefits you justly deserve.
Underinsurance is also a very important coverage that you should buy when purchasing auto insurance. Underinsurance benefits protects you in the event you are struck and injured by an underinsured driver. For example, say a drunk driver goes through a red light and hits you and your spouse broadside. You and your spouse are badly injured and are both out of work for six months. Your medical bills are in excess of $100,000.00, your wage loss is in excess of $25,000.00, you have permanent injuries which will bring with it pain and suffering, and the drunk driver had only $15,000.00 worth of insurance and no assets. If you purchased underinsured motorist benefits you could go to your insurance company and make a claim against your own insurance since the driver that hit you is underinsured. If you don't select this coverage you are stuck with the $15,000.00 the drunk driver had and that's all you will get and it will never replace what you have lost.
So remember, when purchasing auto insurance, it's very important to purchase uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage. When buying your insurance you must fully protect yourself and your family.
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