An Overview of § 1713 under the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL)

Section 1713 of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL) defines the hierarchy of insurance coverage for benefits recovery and provides guidelines for processing and paying claims in instances of multiple coverage sources of equal priority.
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Statutory Text

§ 1713. Source of benefits.

(a) General rule.--Except as provided in section 1714 (relating to ineligible claimants), a person who suffers injury arising out of the maintenance or use of a motor vehicle shall recover first party benefits against applicable insurance coverage in the following order of priority:

(1) For a named insured, the policy on which he is the named insured.

(2) For an insured, the policy covering the insured.

(3) For the occupants of an insured motor vehicle, the policy on that motor vehicle.

(4) For a person who is not the occupant of a motor vehicle, the policy on any motor vehicle involved in the accident. For the purpose of this paragraph, a parked and unoccupied motor vehicle is not a motor vehicle involved in an accident unless it was parked so as to cause unreasonable risk of injury.

(b) Multiple sources of equal priority.--The insurer against whom a claim is asserted first under the priorities set forth in subsection (a) shall process and pay the claim as if wholly responsible. The insurer is thereafter entitled to recover contribution pro rata from any other insurer for the benefits paid and the costs of processing the claim. If contribution is sought among insurers responsible under subsection (a)(4), proration shall be based on the number of involved motor vehicles.

Key Definitions:

Named Insured:

This refers to an individual who is listed on an insurance policy contract and hence, has control over the policy.

Insured:

An insured, in the context of automobile law, refers to anyone covered under an insurance policy. This can be the policyholder (named insured) or others named in the policy.

First Party Benefits:

These are benefits designated for the insured or to individuals covered under the insured's policy and can include medical expenses, income loss, accidental death benefits etc.

Contribution Pro Rata:

Refers to a method of cost distribution where insurers share costs based on their respective coverage amounts.

Relevance of Section 1713 to Pennsylvanian Drivers:

Pennsylvania drivers need to grasp the importance of Section 1713, as it outlines the order of benefits recovery following a motor vehicle accident. It highlights the insurance protocol, determining from which insurance policy injured parties can reclaim benefits, thus governing what drivers can expect post-accident. Importantly, it helps drivers understand their insurance policies and the rights they have when dealing with insurance claims, particularly in complex scenarios involving multiple insurance policies or vehicles.

Relevance of Section 1713 to Pennsylvania Attorneys:

For attorneys in Pennsylvania, Section 1713 serves as a guide for advising clients in motor vehicle accident cases. Comprehending the order of priority for insurance claims can help attorneys better advocate for fair compensation for their clients. Moreover, it provides direction on litigation strategies, particularly when dealing with multiple insurers, for securing maximum payment of claims.

Advanced Analysis of Section 1713:

Upon closer inspection, the specific language used in Section 1713 showcases prudent consideration of all possible scenarios following a road accident. The explicit language in subsection (a), for instance, ensures a clear distinction between a 'named insured', 'an insured' and 'occupants of the insured vehicle.' Rather than leaving it all encompassing, the specificity ensures a smoother settlement of claims process since the rule of recovery varies for each party. Furthermore, the case of a parked, unoccupied vehicle is also addressed, indicating a comprehensive coverage of different situations.

Subsection (b) looks into cases where more than one insurer is involved of equal priority. The language is careful in ensuring that the insured's claims are settled in a timely manner while also providing a clear provision for insurers to recover their respective shares. The section ensures prompt and full payment of claims to the injured party without awaiting determination of cost sharing between insurers.

One language nuance worth pointing out is the term "unreasonable risk of injury" used when referring to a parked and unoccupied vehicle. This subjective terminology leaves room for interpretation and potential disagreement between parties, which may result in legal disputes.

Overall, Section 1713 is comprehensive and leaves little ambiguity for the parties involved, aiding a smoother claim process and ensuring fair recovery of benefits for the injured parties.

About the author
Von Wooding

Von Wooding

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