·  Legal News, Analysis, & Commentary

News & Politics

Are Accidental Death Benefits Accessible After a Fatal Motorcycle Crash in Pennsylvania?

— October 14, 2022

An accident attorney can explain Pennsylvania’s  “modified comparative negligence” rule, where an individual can still recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit.

Fatal injury was the result of a utility van crossing over the center line on the roadway near McKeesport Road in Elizabeth Township last year. Two motorcyclists hit the passenger side of the van and both were air lifted to Allegheny General Hospital for treatment.  The male rider was in critical condition, but the female rider succumbed to her injuries.  The drive remained at the scene, cooperated with investigators, and did not seem to be under the influence of alcohol, or drugs, and did not suffer a medical emergency.  Surviving family members may benefit from consultation with an accident attorney toward securing insurance funds to pay for funeral and burial costs.  

The deceased may have purchased an accidental death benefit rider to a life insurance policy that pays out a death benefit to beneficiaries on the policy.  Depending on the issuer of the policy, an accidental death benefit may extend up to a year after the initial accident leading to death occurs. Additionally, if the investigation reveals another party whose actions may have resulted in the crash, then personal injury remedies may be entertained.

Increased motorcycle fatality

Pennsylvania requires that riders carry a personal injury policy on top of basic coverage and allow motorists to opt out of the no fault requirements in favor of ”at fault” insurance. Motorcyclists continue to be overrepresented in crashes and fatalities with 5,014 riders suffering fatal injury on United States Roadways in 2019, increasing from 4,985 in 2018.  

Fault of other drivers

When motorcycle accidents occur, other drivers may be negligent.  Actions that lead to injury caused by other motor vehicles include:

  • Failure to watch blind spots as motorcycles are smaller than passenger and commercial vehicles. 
  • Tailgating.
  • Speeding.
  • Reckless driving.
  • Switching lanes without signaling.
  • Drowsy driving,
  • Distracted driving is probably the worst major hazard to motorcyclists with the increased use of technology while driving.  

Pennsylvania Law requires helmets for riders under 21, but it is optional for those above 21 years of age who have at least 2 years riding experience.  Victims of motorcycle accidents, or those surviving loved ones of a person who died in a motorcycle accident should contact a personal injury attorney to discuss options for damage compensation.   

Insurance and comparative fault

Scales of Justice. Image via Flickr/user:mikecogh. (CCA-BY-2.0).

An accident attorney can explain Pennsylvania’s  “modified comparative negligence” rule, where an individual can still recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit, but the amount of compensation will be reduced by an amount that is equal to their percentage of fault.  An accident victim can only seek damages from the other driver if they are less than 51 percent at fault. Personal injury legal action needs to be initiated within the two year statute of limitations in Pennsylvania. 

Hire a lawyer

Contact an experienced accident attorney for a consultation, as they can research specific case facts and interpret accident reports, and utilize state, and federal law to support a case’s best outcome toward the compensation of damages.  Scanlon & Wojton will communicate with insurance companies on behalf of surviving loved ones and determine if an accidental death benefit is available to offset funeral and burial expenses. 


Police: 1 dead, 1 critical after motorcycles hit van that crossed center line in Elizabeth |

Join the conversation!