Traffic Accidents Spike During the Holidays
Labor Day is quickly approaching, and everyone knows what that means:
A day off of work.
A relaxing weekend to cook out or head out on the town.
The short, four-day workweek to come back to afterward.
And, of course, sales at your favorite stores.
But, we here at Cohen, Feeley, Altemose & Rambo know what our readers want to see on Labor Day, and they want to see automobile safety information.
All jokes aside, holidays are notorious for traffic accidents. The underlying reason is simple: more vehicles on the road means more chances for an accident, at least a vehicle-on-vehicle accident. Already, we’re seeing increasing or even record-level accidents in the state, and it seems as though there’s no end in sight. The best way to protect yourself is to be prepared ahead of time with good insurance, good driving habits, and the right state of mind.
Take it from an attorney like me, who’s seen and talked to hundreds of people after their accidents: you do not want to worry about whether you have adequate automobile insurance the day after the accident. You want to worry about it today. (Well, not literally today, but you get the idea: sooner rather than later.) I often find that there is a trend for insured Pennsylvanians to believe that they have “full coverage,” when, in reality, they don’t have the coverage they’d want or expect. Sure, you have an insurance agent, and this post is not meant to cast any doubt on their professions. When it comes to having the auto insurance that matters, an experienced personal injury attorney is your number one stop for advice.
Let’s start with just a few of the most important categories on the average Pennsylvania automobile insurance policy. We’ll be covering:
- Bodily injury liability;
- Property damage liability;
- Medical benefits;
- Uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage;
- And limited versus full tort.
What is bodily injury liability? Well, it’s coverage for when you are at fault, and you cause damage to someone else’s body. Easy examples are if you run a stop sign and you hit another car, and the person inside has back pain as a result. If they make a claim against you, from what coverage does it pull? Bodily injury liability. This tends to be a more expensive coverage. Sure, you can mitigate your premium by getting less of it and then driving even more carefully, but you never know what’s going to happen. Plus, as we’ll talk about below, this coverage establishes the cap for a different type of coverage: uninsured and underinsured motorist coverages.
Property damage liability is very much in the same spirit as the previous entry. Instead of paying for harm caused by you to a body, it pays for harm caused by you to property, such as to another vehicle, that mailbox you ran over, or the grass you tore up when you recklessly drove through your neighbor’s yard.
Collision is exactly what it sounds like, and you want it. Collision coverage covers you for the fair market value of your car if it’s totaled. It covers you for repairs if the car is repairable. Simple, right? This is a no-fault coverage, too. Just realize you won’t get your deductible back if the accident is your fault.
Medical benefits. Did you know that every car insurance policy in Pennsylvania has at least $5,000 in medical benefits? And that this coverage can go up to $100,000? And that it’s super cheap to get more? Well, now you do. And you should get a lot of it because every dollar that your auto insurance pays for you is one less that you must spend on health insurance copays, deductibles, or out of your own pocket.
Uninsured and underinsured motorists coverage. What happens if someone else causes an accident and hurts you, but they have no insurance? What if they do have insurance, but it’s very minimal, and you deserve a whole lot more to be made whole? That’s what these coverages are for. These coverages allow you to make a claim against your own insurance in these circumstances, and they are, without a doubt, the best ways to counteract the consequences of things you cannot control — such as the negligent driving of others and their irresponsible insurance decisions.
Limited versus full tort. If you don’t know this one, then you should most definitely check your policy immediately. In Pennsylvania, when you sign up for car insurance, you’re given a choice of one of these two options. Full tort is the superior choice; it allows you to pursue pain and suffering along with the rest of your claim. Limited tort is the cheaper but riskier option; it precludes you, subject to a few rare exceptions, from pursuing pain and suffering. You don’t want to miss out on that part of your claim because the symptoms you experienced matter, and they should be considered when you’re looking for compensation.
One final word of wisdom that goes beyond just automobile insurance, driving, and car accidents: Is car insurance important? Yes. But it’s also important to realize that there are risks and rewards in all parts of life, and nobody can accurately predict which is which (at least when it comes to insurance and automobile safety). My advice? Get good insurance, and then enjoy your time knowing that, God forbid something were to happen, you’d be covered — and you’d have one less thing to stress over.
Let the attorneys and insurance agents fret over things like liability, accidents, and bills. You have a cookout to host.