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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Personal Injury Case Involving UM/UIM Claim and Statute of Limitations

In a previous article we discussed Uninsured (UM) and Underinsured (UIM) Motorist Coverage.  Claims for these types of benefits are very common, especially during hard economic times when people attempt to save money by reducing their auto insurance coverage.  You should be aware however, that if you make a claim for UM or UIM benefits, the proper steps must be taken to preserve your right to receive these benefits, consistent with the statute of limitations.  Under the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, an injured Claimant must commence an “action” for first party benefits within four (4) years from the date of the accident.  However, what constitutes an “action” is not defined.  Some insurance policies require arbitration.  Others may require that an action be commenced in the Court of Common Pleas.  Still other policies may be silent on how an action may be commenced.

In the matter of Erie Insurance Exchange v. Michael Bristol and RCC, Inc., the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently agreed to accept an appeal to determine whether “In uninsured motorist claims subject to mandatory arbitration, is the statute of limitations tolled only by the commencement of an official judicial action, or may extra-judicial actions also toll the statute of limitations.”  In Erie the lower court held that making a demand for arbitration and selection of an arbitrator did not toll the statute of limitations for an uninsured motorist claim.  Whether the Supreme Court reverses that decision remains to be seen, however, if you believe you may need to make a UM or UIM claim you should speak to an experienced Pennsylvania personal injury attorney to ensure you preserve your rights to all the benefits you deserve.

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