UIM Victim Able to Use “Rescue Doctrine”

Posted on: July 10th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

A 2009 decision by the PA Superior Court permitted a Pennsylvania underinsured motorist claimant to have a full hearing before a UIM Arbitration Panel.  A motor vehicle accident was caused by a speeding motorist who was driving too fast for conditions and hydroplaned in a severe rainstorm.  A volunteer fireman sustained severe injuries in a car accident while driving to the scene of the car crash.

The negligent driver’s automobile policy coverage was less than the value of the PA personal injury claim.  Therefore, the victim made a Pennsylvania underinsured motorist claim against his own car insurance company.  The attorneys representing Erie argued that the fireman was responsible for his own car accident and was unable to receive PA UIM benefits.  The Pennsylvania underinsured motorist Arbitration Panel agreed and dismissed the UIM claim.

The Pennsylvania underinsured motorist attorney filed an appeal.  The PA Superior Court ruled that the fireman was actively engaged in a rescue at the time of the crash.  It ordered a new underinsured motorist Arbitration Hearing and granted the injured UIM victim the right to use the legal principle known as the “rescue doctrine.”  Bole v. Erie Ins. Exchange, 967 A.2d 1017 (Pa. Super. 2009)