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You Need Compensatory Damages to Get Delay Damages in Pennsylvania

February 23, 2012

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In <em>Larsen v. Allstate Property and Geico Ins. Co</em>., plaintiffs were involved in a motor vehicle accident.  Plaintiffs asserted claims for personal injuries against the tortfeasor and their own underinsured motorist carriers.  At a UIM arbitration, the arbitrators entered an award for $62,000, an amount well within the tortfeasor’s $100,000 liability coverage.  Since the damages award fell within the policy coverage, no compensatory damages were provided to the plaintiff, and no payment was made under the UIM policies.  Fifteen month later, the plaintiffs filed a writ of summons and petitioned to confirm the arbitral award and award delay damages against Geico and Allstate.  The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas <a href=";slreturn=1">rejected</a> plaintiffs’ contention that by filing a summons they created a civil case and were therefore entitled to delay damages under Pa.R.C.P. 238.  The court determined since the arbitration award was less than the policy amounts, no delay damages judgment could be entered because no real award had been made.  In other words, since the compensatory award was zero, the plaintiffs were not entitled to delay damages.
Thanks to Colleen Hayes for her contribution to this post.


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