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Compensation in Car Accidents

  • Published: 2011-01-29 : Author: Hal Waldman & Associates
  • Synopsis: Anyone involved a car accident has the potential to receive compensation through a variety of sources.

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Compensation in Car Accidents: Beyond Traditional Insurance Claims - Anyone involved a car accident has the potential to receive compensation through a variety of sources. These may include uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage, and products liability claims.

The driver and two passengers, including a one-year-old baby, were killed in a recent minivan accident on Route 30 in Shade Township, Pennsylvania. Tom Holland, Shade Township Chief of Police, says the accident occurred shortly before 2 p.m., after the van blew a tire and ran off the road. A veteran of the force for 34 years, Holland says the accident is one of the worst in his career. He also told reporters that the van was not legally registered and was not insured.

Uninsured and Under-insured Motorist Coverage

In this case, there was no other vehicle involved in the b]car accident and the remaining passengers in the van, two adult males and two children, were all restrained and reportedly not seriously injured.

Had there been other victims in the crash, they would have to rely on their own coverage for compensation. A person without medical coverage who is hit by an uninsured driver may end up with thousands of dollars in medical bills.

As of 1990, Pennsylvania drivers must be offered uninsured motorist (UM) and under-insured motorist (UIM) coverage, but are not required to carry either.

UM protects drivers who are involved in an accident with a driver who is not insured. UM coverage may be issued for insured members of the policy holder's household as well as passengers in his or her vehicle.

Typically UM coverage extends to bodily injury (BI) suffered in the crash, up to the policy limit. Drivers may also obtain UM property damage (PD) coverage to protect them in the event their vehicle or property is damaged by an uninsured driver.

UIM coverage differs in that it protects the policy holder (and insured members of the household and passengers) involved in an accident with a driver who has insufficient insurance.

If the victim's damages exceed the other driver's policy limit, UIM can be applied toward that difference. UIM may in some instances also be insufficient to cover all damages, in which case the policy holder or his or her medical insurer will be responsible for the additional expenses.

Pennsylvania allows stacking of UM or UIM coverage. A driver may multiply coverage by the number of vehicles in his or her policy, essentially collecting from more than one policy for a single loss, in order to receive full payment. If a driver stacks coverage on two vehicles, the policy limits would be doubled. While not prohibited at the state level, some individual companies may prohibit stacking. Those that allow it may charge the policy holder extra to stack coverage.

Products Liability Claims

The police chief says the baby in the minivan accident was not properly restrained. If the failure was not the result of operator error, the family of the baby may have a products liability claim for damages against the manufacturer or distributer of the infant seat or vehicle. The recent Toyota vehicle recalls underscore the importance of such implied warranties.

Generally in Pennsylvania, when a consumer buys a new product, it comes with a guarantee from the manufacturer or supplier that the product is safe for its intended use or even for any reasonably foreseeable misuse. If the product is defective, the manufacturer or supplier is liable for damage in which the defect played a substantial factor in causing.

A defective product may be one that lacks any element necessary to make it safe for its intended use, or one that possesses any feature that renders it unsafe for its intended use. Whether the manufacturer or supplier exercised due care is not the question for analysis in these claims; rather, the focus is placed on the safety of the product. Vehicles and infant seats must be safe for their intended use, notwithstanding any industry custom or reasonable efforts of the manufacturer or supplier.

Anyone who has been injured in a car crash should seek legal advice from a skilled personal injury attorney. An insurance company may provide funds for medical expenses and property damage, but by consulting with a lawyer injured parties may discover they have the ability to pursue additional claims. An experienced personal injury attorney can advocate on your behalf, and work to advance your interests.

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