No Double Recovery In Pennsylvania UIM Claims

The Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania held in Reinert v. Nationwide Insurance that a Pennsylvania plaintiff injured in a car accident in South Carolina was barred from submitting evidence of his medical bills and wage loss at a UIM trial against his insurer after previously receiving first-party benefits under his insurance policy.   

In reaching its holding, the initial issue addressed by the Court was which state’s law would control, as Pennsylvania and South Carolina’s motor vehicle laws were in conflict.  In its analysis the Court noted that Pennsylvania’s interests under the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law outweighed South Carolina’s interests under its state’s MVFRL.  The Court further determined that the purpose of Pennsylvania’s MVFRL was to control the costs of insurance; whereas, the purpose of South Carolina’s law was to provide protection for those injured as a result of a negligent driver.  As such, the Court held that Pennsylvania law applied.

The Court then addressed the facts of this case.  Here, the driver of the other car had a liability policy with coverage of $100,000.  Following the accident, the plaintiff had settled his claims against the driver for policy limits.  The plaintiff then sued his own insurance company, which he had a UIM policy.  At that time, the plaintiff had already collected $65,000 in medical benefits and $75,000 in lost wages.  Based on the foregoing, the Court determined that the plaintiff would only be permitted to introduce evidence regarding damages for past, present and future medical bills and wage loss to the extent that he was not paid through his first-party benefits, since Pennsylvania law specifically precluded recovery of benefits previously paid – unlike South Carolina law.   

Special thanks to Colleen Hayes for her contributions to this post.  For more information, please contact Nicole Brown at nbrown@wcmlaw.com.