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March 20th, 2018

I was hit by a drunk driver in Philadelphia. The driver’s insurance was minimal and I have lots of medical bills. Am I out of luck?

Victims of drunk driving car accidents in Philadelphia often find that the DUI driver doesn’t have sufficient insurance coverage. This doesn’t mean victims of these accidents are out of luck. There are often other avenues to financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

In this article, our injury lawyers discuss two types of claims victims of drunk driving accidents in Pennsylvania can make against parties other than the drunk driver.

Liquor Liability Lawsuits – Did Another Party’s Conduct Lead to the DUI Accident?

If a party violated Pennsylvania liquor service laws, an injured DUI accident victim may be able to seek compensation from both the DUI driver and the establishment that served alcohol to the drunk driver.

A bar, restaurant, etc., may be held liable for serving alcohol to a patron who was visibly intoxicated or serving a minor who later causes a car accident. The key in these cases is prompt and thorough investigation. It’s crucial to identify where the DUI driver was coming from immediately prior to the accident, how much they had to drink, etc.

More: Pennsylvania & New Jersey DUI Accident Victims – Suing Parties Other Than the DUI Driver

UIM (Underinsured Motorist) or UM (Uninsured Motorist) Claims – Filed with Your Own Insurance Company

When a DUI car accident is caused by a driver who has a minimal insurance policy or no policy at all, the injured victim may be able to make a UIM/UM claim. This type of claim is made with your own insurance company and is allowed in cases where an at-fault driver either 1. didn’t have enough insurance coverage to compensate you for your injuries, or 2. didn’t have any insurance at all.

For example, a DUI driver who has a minimum limits policy of $15,000 causes $100,000 in damages to another driver. If the innocent driver purchased UIM coverage on their own policy, they may be able to seek the remaining damages, $85,000, by making a UIM claim. How much is actually recovered depends on how much UIM coverage there is on the policy. If the injured individual has $25,000 in UIM coverage, they may obtain the entire amount (the full $25,000 of UIM coverage). If the individual has $250,000 in UIM coverage, the max they could obtain is $85,000.

Timing of Different Claims in a DUI Accident Case

It’s important to note that these claims aren’t usually filed sequentially. Under PA law, the plaintiff in a lawsuit gets one shot to resolve their claims arising from a single incident. Therefore, if it’s discovered that there’s a viable claim against a bar, in addition to the drunk driver, a single lawsuit would be filed against both parties.

With respect to UIM claims, the inherent nature of the UIM claim itself requires that other claims be filed and resolved prior to making a UIM claim. This kind of claim depends on the amount of the at-fault driver’s insurance coverage and the ultimate resolution of the claim against the at-fault driver. Typically, UIM lawsuits are filed separately from the underlying tort case.

UIM claim law is very complex and the statute of limitations for making these claims is not set. The deadline to file these claims depends on when the insurance carrier breaches its duties with respect to the UIM claim. Therefore, it is important to get advice from an experienced car accident lawyer about UIM/UM claims.

If you would like to discuss an alcohol DUI accident lawsuit, contact our law firm for a FREE consultation. (866) 641-0806

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