Injured woman entitled to full compensation under MVFRL, Superior Ct. rules

(7/29/2004) -- The Superior Court on July 28, in Generette v. Donegal Mutual Insurance Company, reversed a York County trial court decision finding the court erred in determining that the plaintiff was not entitled to underinsured motorist benefits from her own policy with Donegal because she had collected UIM benefits from a policy issued by Nationwide that was applicable to the vehicle involved in the accident and had received $25,000 from the tortfeasor’s liability policy. Generette had also signed a waiver of the right to stack policy coverages for her policy through Donegal.

In a 6-page opinion written by Judge McEwen, the Court reversed the trial court’s ruling determining that they made an “error of law” in interpreting the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (MVFRL). The Court cited Section 1733 setting forth the priority of recovery of UIM benefits where multiple policies are applicable. The Court ruled that in instances such as Generette’s where the “available limits of liability coverage and the UIM coverages applicable to the vehicle involved in the accident are insufficient to fully compensate the injured claimant, Section 1733 provides that payment of underinsured benefits will then be made from ‘a policy covering a motor vehicle not involved in the accident with respect to which the injured person is an insured.’” The Court also ruled that the waiver signed by Generette relinquishes “only stacked coverages for each vehicle under the policy, and not the ability to obtain single limits stated in the policy of UIM benefits requested and paid for” by the plaintiff.

A dissenting opinion was issued by Judge Joyce.