Attorneys: Charles Cooper/Robert Schall//Patricia Buckley
Facts: This case involved a 57-year-old female who was driving a Para transit bus when the bus was rear-ended by a car which was underinsured. Our office filed a workers compensation claim and also presented a claim against the employer’s underinsured motorist insurance carrier.
At first the employer’s insurance company advised that they had rejected uninsured motorist coverage. Thereafter, they advised that the employer had requested reduced limits of $35,000.00 for uninsured motorist coverage. As a result of the accident our client was diagnosed with an injury to her low back that required spinal surgery to treat. After our client was approved for social security disability benefits, our office challenged the employer’s insurance company regarding its claim that there was only $35,000.00 in uninsured motorist coverage.
Our office filed a declaratory judgment action in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against the insurance carrier arguing that the employers’ insurance binder actually provided 2 Million dollars of uninsured motorist benefits. After a trial on this issue, the Court of Common Pleas found in our client’s favor. However, the insurance carrier did not stop there. They filed an appeal to the Pennsylvania Superior Court who decided to hear the case.
On appeal, the Superior Court affirmed the trial judge and ruled that there was 2 Million Dollars of available uninsured motorist coverage. After the declaratory judgment action was finally decided, the client’s uninsured motorist arbitration was scheduled. On the eve of the arbitration, the insurance company resolved our client’s case for $715,000.00. This case involved two court battles which lasted more than five years.
In successfully resolving this case, our office was able to benefit all Pennsylvania citizens by clarifying the law regarding when an insurance company is responsible for paying underinsured motorist benefits equal to an employer’s liability limits of coverage. For more information, you can read about the decision of the Pennsylvania Superior Court at: http://www.aopc.org/OpPosting/Superior/out/a34037_03.pdf .