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February 26th, 2013

Statute of Limitations in an Underinsured or Uninsured Benefits Claim in Pennsylvania

If you have underinsured or uninsured coverage in Pennsylvania, you may be able to receive financial compensation for personal injuries suffered in a car or truck accident. UIM claims are made against your own insurance policy, and must generally be brought within 4 years. Because UIM claims are made pursuant to a car insurance policy, they are essentially contract claims and therefore, Pennsylvania’s 4 year statute of limitations applies. Learn more about UIM/UM claims.

However, when the clock begins ticking is a bit murky. Pennsylvania law is not clear on when the statute of limitations begins running for a UIM claim. However, most courts will start the clock when the underlying case against the negligent driver was settled. So, for a car or truck accident that occurred in 2005 and settled in 2008, the 4 year statute of limitations on the UIM would start running in 2008, when the case settled.

A 2007 federal court case, State Farm v. Rosenthal, predicted that the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania UIM cases would begin ticking when the case settled, or when the insured did not receive full compensation for the injuries and therefore knew they would need to make a UIM claim.

Hopkins v. Erie (2012) is one of the most recent Pennsylvania court cases to deal with the issue of the statute of limitations in an underinsured coverage claim. In that case, the Court of Common Pleas (Montgomery County) held that the UIM statute of limitations began running when the plaintiff settled her negligence action against the driver. Final settlement occurred on January 6, 2005 and the insured driver filed the action against her car insurance company nearly 6 years later, which the court stated was clearly over the 4 year statute of limitations requirement for contract matters. Therefore, the court denied the insured driver’s UIM claim altogether.

**Pinpointing when the statute of limitations begins running for UIM and UM claims requires advice from a Pennsylvania car accident lawyer. Each case varies, and laws can and do change. You should not rely on this article to determine the applicable statute of limitations period for your car or truck accident case.

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