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October 17th, 2013

Hit & Run Truck Accidents in Pennsylvania – What Claims Can an Injured Driver Make?

Truck drivers are under enormous pressure to deliver cargo on time. It explains why a truck driver may take illegal drugs to help stay awake or falsify travel or driving records. It also explains why a truck driver who hits a pedestrian, bicyclist or other driver may leave the scene of the accident, i.e., hit and run.

In these types of cases, an injured driver may be entitled to make a claim under their own car insurance policy to recover two type of benefits: 1. PIP (personal injury protection) and 2. UM (uninsured).

PIP Claims & PA Hit & Run Truck Accident Cases

PIP coverage under a car insurance policy basically works like a mini medical/health insurance policy. By law, Pennsylvania car insurance policies must carry a minimum of $5,000 of PIP coverage; however, many people purchase additional coverage. Also, Pennsylvania is a no-fault state. This means that even though a car or truck accident was the other driver’s fault, you make this specific type of claim under your own car insurance policy. In other words, an injured driver, passenger, pedestrian, etc. will look to their own car insurance policy to make a claim for medical bills incurred as a result of the accident.

Many people think this is counterintuitive and in a sense, it is. If a negligent driver such as a truck driver causes a serious accident, he or she should be liable for all of the injured person’s medical bills, etc. However, no-fault means exactly what it sounds like. The issue of fault does not matter when it comes to making a claim for PIP coverage in Pennsylvania. This is also true in a hit and run truck accident situation.

For example, a driver is stranded on the side of the highway, due to a flat tire. He has is emergency or hazard lights on and is changing the flat. A truck driver traveling at full speed fails to notice the emergency lights and clips the man changing his flat tire. The truck driver fails to stop and keeps on driving. Here, the injured driver’s medical bills should be submitted to the driver’s car insurance company. The car insurance company will pay up to the amount of coverage purchased. After this amount is exhausted, the driver’s own private health insurance would kick in to cover the rest of the medical bills.

UM Claims & PA Hit & Run Truck Accident Cases

In the same scenario, the truck driver who fled the scene is never identified. Therefore, the injured driver may be able to make a claim to recover for his injuries with his own car insurance company, if and only if, he purchased a special type of coverage, uninsured (UM) coverage. Many Pennsylvania drivers make the mistake of opting out of UM coverage. This is a huge mistake because it applies in situations when you are injured in a hit and run accident, such as in the hit and run truck accident example discussed above.

UM coverage amounts vary, but typically match what is known as “Bodily Injury Protection.” Pennsylvania’s mandatory minimum bodily injury protection coverage amount is $15,000. However, again, like with PIP coverage, many people purchase higher amounts. $100,000 of bodily injury protection coverage is common, in which case, the UM coverage would also be $100,000. If the injured driver in the hit and run truck accident example above had $100,000 of UM coverage, he would be eligible to make a claim for up to $100,000 with his own car insurance company.

It is important to note that UM coverage law is very complex and there may be other considerations, such as stacking (multiplying the UM coverage amount by the number of autos insured under the same policy) or limited tort. Learn more about uninsured claims in Pennsylvania. Before taking any action with respect to a UM claim, it is important to discuss your case with a car-truck accident lawyer in Pennsylvania.

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Page last updated: October 7, 2016