When a driver's negligence causes a serious auto accident, his liability insurance should pay the injured accident victims for their personal injuries and financial losses (such as medical bills and wage losses). Too often, however, the negligent driver has failed to buy liability insurance, or the amount of liability insurance purchased is woefully inadequate to pay the full amount of money damages necessary to fairly compensate those who were injured in the accident.
By adding underinsured and uninsured motorist insurance coverages to your own automobile insurance policy, you can protect yourself against the failure of the other driver to have an adequate amount of liability insurance coverage. Elderkin trial attorneys have seen far too many cases where clients who have been seriously injured in an auto accident have suffered losses that have not been compensated in full because the other driver's liability insurance coverage was inadequate and the client had failed to purchase underinsured or uninsured motorist coverages. Here are some basic facts about the importance of these coverages.
Auto Liability Coverage–One Source of Compensation for Bodily Injuries -- But What If It's Not Enough?
Financial losses and bodily injuries caused by an auto accident may be viewed as a debt owed by the negligent driver to the injured accident victim. Like other debts, the accident victim can try to collect from the assets of the person at fault. Pennsylvania law, however, requires all vehicle owners to purchase a minimum of $15,000 of liability insurance coverage to provide a ready source of compensation for those people who may be injured by the negligence of the insured driver. Greater amounts of coverage are available and, in most cases, should be purchased. When the injured accident victim asserts a claim against the negligent driver, that driver’s insurance company then becomes obligated to pay the accident claim. If the driver had failed to buy liability insurance at all, or if the amount of coverage purchased is inadequate to cover all injuries and losses, then the injured person may go uncompensated.
Underinsured & Uninsured Motorist Coverage Protects YOU
To protect against the very real risk that the other driver will not have any insurance coverage, or will have an insufficient amount of insurance coverage, you should buy underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. If the accident injuries have not been compensated fully because the amount of liability coverage of the other driver is insufficient to cover all losses suffered by the accident victim, then the victim's own underinsured motorist coverage will be applied to the shortfall. In the same fashion, if the other driver failed to have any liability insurance coverage at all, then the victim's uninsured motorist coverage substitutes as the source for compensation. These two coverages therefore provide a valuable means of fully insuring all of your household members. Do not rely on the other driver to be fully insured.
Don't Be Short-Changed! – Buy Uninsured & Underinsured Motorist Insurance
Underinsured and uninsured motorist insurance coverages are optional. You are not required to purchase these coverages. Although not required, it is advisable that you purchase this insurance protection. We also strongly recommend that the coverage amount be the same as the amount of your liability insurance coverage. The amount of compensation you provide for others (through your liability coverage) should not be greater than the protections you provide yourself and your family members by purchasing underinsured and uninsured coverages.
You can "double-up" on the amount of these insurance benefits by selecting the stacking options. If more than one vehicle is insured for uninsured and underinsured motorist benefits, each vehicle will have its own limits of coverage. The stacking option permits you to add together the coverages of all vehicles insured. For example, two vehicles with $25,000 in underinsured motorist coverage will provide a total of $50,000 in coverage if the stacking option is selected.
For an appointment to discuss any litigation issue, please call Elderkin attorneys Robert C. LeSuer or Craig A. Markham.