APRIL 2014



Richard D. Linderman, Esq is a graduate of Pottstown High School, West Chester University, and received his law degree from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. He resides with his wife, Virginia, in Pottstown and is the father of one daughter and grandfather of two grandsons and a granddaughter.

Mr. Linderman is a Senior Partner of O’Donnell, Weiss & Mattei, P.C., and his areas of practice include Litigation, Estate Planning and Estate Administration. He has been very active in the TriCounty Area Chamber of Commerce, having served as its pro bono solicitor for 25 years. In addition, he has taught at Penn State Berks Campus and Montgomery County Community College, West Campus.

Phone: 610-323-2800
Fax: 610-323-2845
Email: rlinderman@owmlaw.com

The material in this publication was created as of the date set forth above and is based on laws, court decisions, administrative rulings and congressional materials that existed at that time, and should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinions on specific facts. The information in this publication is not intended to create, and the transmission and receipt of it does not constitute, a lawyer-client relationship.

- PART 2

Last month, OWM Law presented the first of a two-part series on PCTV which addressed the issue of what motor vehicle insurance coverage you should have for yourself, your family and others who may be injured in a motor vehicle accident. This month, Richard Linderman who heads the litigation team at OWM Law invited K. William Lowa, III, of The Lowa Group, as his guest on the April television show to address bodily injury liability and property damage liability.

According to Mr. Lowa, the minimum coverage for bodily injury in Pennsylvania is $15,000.00/$30,000.00. What that really means is that you are purchasing bodily injury liability coverage for the other passengers in a vehicle to cover their non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. That is to say, if you or a member of your household is negligent and causes an accident, such as a multiple-vehicle accident, or if you would run off the road and injure a pedestrian, it is insurance that you purchase for people you injure as a result of your negligent conduct. The minimum coverage of $15,000.00/$30,000.00 means that if one person is injured, your insurance carrier will pay up to $15,000.00, and if two or more people are injured, your insurance carrier will pay no more than the maximum of $30,000.00. If four people are injured in an accident where you are negligent, the coverage is only $30,000.00 for all four people per accident.

When Mr. Linderman asked Mr. Lowa what his recommendation would be for coverage for bodily injury, Mr. Lowa said that generally speaking, he recommends to his clientele $250,000.00/ $500,000.00 for bodily injury. So that if one individual is injured as a result of your negligence or that of another family member, the maximum your carrier would pay is $250,000.00 and if two or more people are injured as a result of your negligent conduct or that of another family member, the maximum your insurance company would pay is $500,000.00.

The minimum amount of insurance coverage you can purchase for property damage is $5,000.00, but the maximum you can purchase is $100,000.00. Property damage insurance is coverage for property that either you or someone in your family destroys by either driving recklessly or negligently. An example would be if you were driving too fast and lost control of your vehicle and hit a Mercedes SUV, causing $90,000.00 worth of damage. Your own carrier would pay for the property damage because of your negligent actions. Consequently, Mr. Lowa generally recommends that you purchase $100,000.00 property damage.

In some cases, Mr. Lowa recommends personal umbrella coverage of $1,000,000.00 which is over and above your bodily injury liability coverage for added protection for a family who has considerable assets. He said the cost of an umbrella policy generally runs somewhere between $225.00 and $250.00 a year.

Mr. Lowa shared with Mr. Linderman that he also likes what is a called a “combined single limit policy” of $500,000.00. He explained that the $500,000.00 would be for all bodily injuries and all property damage.

The next major insurance coverage that was discussed during the April airing was uninsured coverage and underinsured coverage. This is insurance coverage that you, as the head of the household, would purchase to cover or protect you and your family against negligent drivers of automobiles who either are not insured or who are under insured. Mr. Lowa explained that in his experience many of his clients have had to use their uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage quite frequently. Particularly in large metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia, many motorists will not have car insurance to protect people who are injured by their negligent conduct. When you purchase uninsured/underinsured coverage, you are really protecting yourself, your family and any other occupants of your vehicle who are injured as a result of another party’s negligent conduct in causing the accident. You can purchase a maximum of uninsured/ underinsured coverage up to the limits of your bodily injury liability coverage discussed hereinabove. Consequently, if you would accept Mr. Lowa’s recommendation of buying bodily injury liability insurance of $250,000.00/$500,000.00, you could buy the same uninsured/underinsured protection for your family and other occupants in your vehicle.

In conclusion, Mr. Lowa and Mr. Linderman recommend that you purchase the following:

  $250,000.00/$500,000.00 bodily injury protection
  $100,000.00 of property damage protection
  $250,000.00/$500,000.00 uninsured motorist coverage
  $250,000.00/$500,000.00 underinsured motorist coverage
  $100,000.00 medical coverage

By purchasing $100,000.00 of medical coverage (for you and other occupants of your vehicle), you will, more likely than not, avoid having to utilize your employer’s hospitalization coverage for hospital and doctor visits. When you use your employer’s hospitalization coverage for medical provider bills arising out of a motor vehicle accident, where another driver is negligent, more likely than not, you will incur high co-pays and deductibles for hospital bills and doctor bills. With automobile medical coverage of $100,000.00, there are no co-pays or deductibles. The insurance carrier pays from dollar one.

Quite frequently, there are subrogation rights exercised by your employer’s hospitalization/insurance carrier. If you are 65 or over the age of 65, and Medicare is your primary source of payment of medical bills, Medicare also has the right of subrogation. That means any bills that have been paid by Medicare, will have to be reimbursed to Medicare if you file a claim/lawsuit against a negligent driver and you are successful in obtaining damages for pain and suffering.

Lastly, Messrs. Lowa and Linderman also recommend that you purchase the full tort option, rather than the limited tort option. By purchasing the full tort option, you can file a claim against a negligent party for any injury whatsoever. That means if you break your little finger and it heals in six weeks, you can bring a claim against a negligent party. On the other hand (no pun intended), if you purchase limited tort and you break your little finger, and it is not serious and permanent, you would not be successful in bringing a claim against the negligent party. You have greater flexibility in seeking noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, when you purchase full tort as opposed to limited tort.

If you would care to discuss the above in detail, please call me at 610-323-2800 or email me at rlinderman@owmlaw.com. Also, please watch OWM's April 2014 Legal Talk program regarding Automobile Insurance Coverages for Your Family and Your Vehicles - Part 2 on our website here.



David A. Megay, Esq., speaking at Chester County Night School Seminars at Owen J. Roberts High School, Pottstown, PA, on 4/30/14 entitled "Ask the Lawyer: Buying and Selling Real Estate in PA" (contact Chester County Night School at 610-692-1964 or online at www.chestercountynightschool.org).

David A. Megay, Esq., speaking at SCORE Business Planning Seminar on 4/21/14 at 7:00 p.m., New York Plaza Building, Basement, 244 East High Street, Pottstown, PA (contact SCORE at 610-327-2673).

Kathleen M. Martin, Esq., speaking at Chester County Night School Seminars at Owen J. Roberts High School, Pottstown, PA, on 4/30/14 entitled "Beyond the Simple Will," and at West Chester B. Reed Henderson High School, West Chester, PA on 4/16/14 entitled "Elder Law Issues"(contact Chester County Night School at 610-692-1964 or online at www.chestercountynightschool.org).

Watch Legal Talk, brought to you by OWM, on PCTV, Tuesdays at 8:30 on Channel 28, and Thursdays at 9:30 p.m. on Channel 98, or on our website here.

Read Legal Ease every first and third Sunday in the Pottstown Mercury and on our website here.

O'Donnell,Weiss & Mattei, P.C.

41 E. High Street
Pottstown, PA 19464
Fax: 610-323-2845

347 Bridge Street, Suite 200
Phoenixville, PA 19460
Fax: 610-917-9348