What You Need to Know About Pennsylvania Auto Insurance & Personal Injuries – Bodily Injury Liability Insurance

Posted October 31, 2023

  • What You Need to Know About Pennsylvania Auto Insurance & Personal Injuries – Bodily Injury Liability Insurance

Far too often, Pennsylvania drivers fail to closely review their automobile insurance policy. Many drivers simply elect minimum coverage to save on premiums and others may not have reviewed their policies in years despite changes in life circumstances. Complicating the process is that far too many drivers simply do not understand the different coverages that are available or the implications of the same. While everyone hopes that insurance is never needed, it is nice to know that you are adequately protected in the event of an accident. This is the first blog in a multi-part series to discuss the different types of coverage available on your automobile insurance and examine how automobile insurance may provide protection or a means of recovery when you or your family are involved in a serious automobile accident.

Don’t Cheap Out on Automobile Liability Coverage

Automobile accidents occur in the blink of an eye. With the rise of distracted driving, even a split second of distraction such as glancing at a cell phone can result in an accident. Unfortunately, these accidents, while unintentional, can result in serious injuries or death of other drivers or pedestrians. Not only will an at-fault driver likely experience an emotional toll from causing an accident, but they may be faced with a lawsuit from the injured victim. Inevitably, both the at-fault driver and the injured party will question what insurance proceeds will be available to provide coverage. The at-fault driver may question whether their automobile insurance is sufficient to protect their personal assets whereas the injured party will question whether the available insurance will be sufficient to compensate them for their injuries.  Unfortunately, far too many Pennsylvania drivers elect to purchase the cheapest automobile insurance with insufficient coverage to adequately protect the at-fault driver or to compensate a seriously injured victim.

In Pennsylvania, drivers are only required to obtain Bodily Injury Liability Insurance in the amount of $15,000 for injuries to a single person or $30,000 for injuries to multiple people. That means, that in the event a driver causes injuries to one or more persons the maximum amount that the insurance company must pay to resolve or satisfy the claim, regardless of whether through an out-of-court settlement or following a trial, is $15,000 or $30,000, as applicable. However, where a victim is seriously injured, the actual damages are likely to far exceed these amounts.

As an example, a victim who has suffered serious injuries may refuse to accept the $15,000 as full and final settlement of the claim. In such instance, the victim may elect to file a lawsuit and proceed through a trial to obtain a judgment against the at-fault driver. If for example, the victim obtains a $500,000 verdict, the automobile insurance company will generally only be required to pay $15,000 toward that amount. The remaining $485,000 would likely be reduced to a judgment against the at-fault driver and the victim may seek to institute collection proceedings against the personal assets of the at-fault driver through the courts. From the perspective of the victim, the collection process can be long, arduous and success may depend upon the available assets of the at-fault driver. In contrast, from the perspective of the at-fault driver, if the victim is successful through the collection process the at-fault driver may end up paying out-of-pocket to further compensate the victim or be faced with a lien against their assets.

Protection Worth Purchasing

By selecting a higher Bodily Injury Liability Insurance limit or by obtaining an Umbrella or Excess Insurance Policy, an at-fault driver can reduce (but never eliminate) the risk of personal exposure by ensuring there are adequate insurance funds available to compensate a victim.  While there may be increased costs in insurance premiums, the costs may be worth it in the long run in the event of an accident. For victims, it is always important to consider all avenues of monetary recovery before resolving a claim, whether through insurance policies or otherwise, to achieve full compensation for injuries.

The Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli & Tipton personal injury team and I are well equipped to represent victims seriously injured in Pennsylvania automobile accidents. If you or a loved one were seriously injured in an accident and would like to schedule a consultation, please contact me. In the meantime, please look out for the second part of this series where I will discuss the importance of Underinsured and Uninsured Motorist Coverage.

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