Mette, Evans & Woodside

Six Mette, Evans & Woodside Attorneys Named “Best Lawyers”

Mett, Evans & Woodside - Recognized as Best Lawyers 2020

Attorneys pictured left to right: Howell C. Mette, Timothy A. Hoy, James A. Ulsh, Thomas A. Archer, Gary J. Heim, Mark S. Silver

Six Mette, Evans & Woodside attorneys have been selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers® 2020. Attorneys Howell C. Mette, Timothy A. Hoy and James A. Ulsh were recognized again this year.  Attorneys Thomas A. Archer, Gary J. Heim and Mark S. Silver were recognized for the first time.

Best Lawyers is the oldest and one of the most respected peer review publications in the legal profession. The Best Lawyers designation is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey in which more than ninety thousand leading attorneys cast over ten million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their specialties.

Selected in the tax law category, Howell C. Mette, the founding shareholder of Mette, Evans & Woodside, has long been recognized for his work in trusts and estate planning. Mr. Mette was first named Best Lawyer in 1987.  He is also AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell and has earned the recognition of Super Lawyer.

Timothy A. Hoy, current President of Mette, Evans & Woodside, was recognized for his work in banking and finance law. Mr. Hoy focuses his law practice on assisting businesses and financial institutions. In addition, Mr. Hoy has taught Payment Systems at Pennsylvania State University – Dickinson Law and at Widener Law Harrisburg.

James A. Ulsh, a long-time shareholder, was recognized for business organization law. Mr. Ulsh concentrates his law practice on banking, commercial law, healthcare issues, employee benefits programs and estate planning and administration. He has previously been named a Super Lawyer and is also AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell.

Thomas A. Archer, Chair of the firm’s Litigation Practice Group, who was selected for personal injury law, has more than twenty-five years’ experience in civil litigation. In his practice, he represents injured people and their families throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He regularly serves as an adjunct faculty member in Widener University’s Intensive Trial Advocacy Program.

Named “Best Lawyer” in trusts and estates, the focus of Gary J. Heim’s practice during his legal career of over 35 years has been agricultural law. He provides a broad range of legal services to Pennsylvania’s farm and agri-business community and has counseled thousands of the state’s family farms with the transition of those businesses to the next generation through his statewide practice.

Mark S. Silver, who has been recognized in real estate law, serves as Special Counsel to Mette, Evans & Woodside. Mark concentrates his practice in eminent domain. In addition his work in eminent domain, Mark’s legal practice encompasses other areas of real estate law including: land use, subdivision and zoning, and transactions.

Mette, Evans & Woodside has a long-standing tradition of providing comprehensive legal representation in Litigation, Estates and Trusts, Business and Real Estate. Founded in 1969, the firm provides clients throughout Pennsylvania with sound legal counsel for all facets of their professional and personal life.

Stacking Coverage Limits

by Thomas A. Archer

Stacking Coverage Limits

This is the third in a series of three articles dealing with some of the major decisions facing automobile insurance consumers when buying their car insurance.

The first two topics dealt with limited vs. full tort and underinsured/uninsured motorist coverage. The takeaway from the first two topics is that you make sure you have full tort coverage and carry as much underinsured motorist coverage as you have liability coverage. The third topic deals with coverage “stacking.”

Stacking means that insureds can combine, or “stack,” the amount of underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage they have according to the number of vehicles on the policy. So, for example, if you own three vehicles that are insured by the policy and it has $100,000 single limit/$300,000 per accident in underinsured motorist benefits, you can elect to stack those benefits, resulting in $300,000/$900,000 in coverage. When chosen, that is not specifically waived; stacking applies to uninsured motorist (UM) benefits as well. Stacking can be done within a single insurance policy or across separate policies.

As with the previous insurance coverage options we discussed, adding stacking to your policy will increase the annual premium. But the increase in premium is relatively low when compared to the significant benefit that is added.

Recall we discussed that the minimum amount of liability insurance coverage required to satisfy Pennsylvania’s Financial Responsibility law is $15,000 for bodily injury to, or death of, one (1) person in any one (1) accident and $30,000 for bodily injury to, or death of, two (2) or more persons in any one (1) accident, subject to the $15,000 per person limit. While the legislature has introduced a bill to raise these minimum limits, they currently remain the lowest such limits in the country.

In the event you are involved in an auto collision and sustain injuries resulting from another driver’s negligence, it may well be by someone carrying the state minimum insurance protection. More than likely, these minimum limits will be the only available resources of the other driver, the “tortfeasor,” from which to compensate you for injuries and harms as a result of the crash. Even if the tortfeasor has higher limits, those limits may not be enough to account for your losses, such as if extensive medical care is required or extended disability and wage loss is incurred. Stacking of UIM benefits is an excellent way to protect you and your family in the event of multiple or severe injuries or disability as a result of the crash.

Other articles in the Automotive Insurance Decision Series:

Article I: Don’t Give Up Your Right To Full Tort Protection
Article II: Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Are You Underinsured?
by Thomas A. Archer

Underinsured Motorist Coverage

The minimum amount of liability insurance coverage required to satisfy Pennsylvania’s Financial Responsibility law is $15,000 for bodily injury to, or death of, one (1) person in any one (1) accident and $30,000 for bodily injury to, or death of, two (2) or more persons in any one (1) accident, subject to the $15,000 per person limit. While the legislature has introduced a bill to raise these minimum limits, they currently remain the lowest such limits in the country.

What does this mean to you? If you are in an auto collision and sustain injuries resulting from another driver’s negligence, you may well be harmed by someone carrying the state minimum insurance protection. More than likely, these minimum limits will be the only available resources of the other driver, the “tortfeasor,” from which to compensate you for injuries and harms as a result of the crash. In the event you were to sustain anything more than relatively minor injuries, you will have otherwise compensable losses well in excess of the tortfeasor’s available resources to pay for them.

For that reason, Pennsylvania drivers have the option of purchasing underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) or, in the case of an accident caused by an uninsured driver, uninsured motorist coverage (UM). By having these coverages, there is now an additional resource for compensating injuries and losses in the event that a tortfeasor does not have sufficient coverage to pay for them. However, Pennsylvania drivers cannot purchase more UIM or UM than they carry in liability coverage. If you decide to carry the state minimum 15/30 coverage, you can carry no more than 15/30 on your own vehicle for UIM or UM. If, on the other hand, you carry higher liability limits, for example 100/300, you have the ability to purchase up to $100,000 (or $300,000 for multiple victims) in UIM or UM coverage.

It is sometimes the case that clients come to me with lower UIM limits than their liability limits. This is often referred to as a “sign down” because to do so, the insured driver must sign an insurance document acknowledging that he or she is knowingly electing to carry less UIM or UM than his or her liability coverage. Worse, we sometimes see insured drivers who have completely waived UIM and UM coverage, despite having to maintain coverage for injuries to others. This scenario can easily result in a coverage tragedy, where the client’s injuries and losses are extensive, but the available insurance coverage from which to compensate for such harms is insufficient.

These benefits, depending upon the amount of coverage purchased, might typically increase the annual insurance premium by a factor of about 5%-15% of the total premium versus a complete waiver or election to decline such benefits. For most, this represents a difference of anywhere from maybe $50 to around $200, or less, per year. There are a number of factors that go into these calculations, but the point is that having UIM and UM coverage as part of your insurance policy is not, in most cases, relatively expensive. This is especially true when considering what is lost in the event of a single car accident caused by someone with less than sufficient insurance coverage.

Other articles in the Automotive Insurance Decision Series:

Article I: Don’t Give Up Your Right To Full Tort Protection
Article III: Stacking Coverage Limits

Don’t Give Up Your Right to Full Tort Protection

Making Decisions About Car Insurance?
by Thomas A. Archer

Don't Give Up Your Right To Full Tort Protection

There are few more disappointing conversations that I’ve had to have with clients than letting them know they cannot recover their losses caused by another driver in a motor vehicle collision because the client has selected the “limited tort” option on their policy of insurance. After more than 20 years in practice, I am still surprised to hear that some of these clients had no idea that this limiting provision even appears in their auto policy.

In Pennsylvania, drivers may have a limited tort auto insurance policy or a full tort auto insurance policy. New Jersey drivers have a similar choice between what is referred to as the “verbal threshold” or “no threshold.” In Pennsylvania, limited tort basically means, with certain specific exceptions, that you can only recover “economic loss” following a car accident. Such losses might include medical bills, which are in many cases already covered by your auto or health insurance, and lost wages. You cannot, however, seek repayment for pain and suffering, the most significant harm that befalls most accident victims.

If you have never been in an auto accident, it may be difficult for you to appreciate the pain, physical limitations and loss of life’s basic pleasures that often follow an automobile collision. I have seen many cases in my career involving accident victims who endure years of pain and hardship, but whose injuries would not overcome the serious injury classification that would be required to overcome the application of the limited tort option. Where this option applies, as a result of the accident victim’s selection, the victim is left without a remedy for recovery of losses for which the law otherwise provides.

While insurance companies are required to have their insureds sign a form confirming the limited tort selection at time of purchase, the fact is that most purchasers do not appreciate the impact of that decision. This is because most people do not consider the potential value of a future claim for losses as opposed to the relatively limited short term savings realized by selecting the limited tort option. An insured driver might save some money on an annual premium, but those savings will likely be outstripped many times over in the event of a single car accident where injuries cannot be compensated as a result of application of the limited tort option.

Understandably, budgetary concerns may make short-term savings on car insurance look like a good idea. But there are other ways to cut costs, such as increasing your deductible or combining multiple policies with a single insurer that make better sense than leaving you or a family member without the full protection of your insurance. The bottom line is to be informed as to the coverages you have and periodically review those coverages with an agent or representative to make sure that you and your loved ones are sufficiently protected.

Other articles in the Automotive Insurance Decision Series:

Article II: Underinsured Motorist Coverage
Article III: Stacking Coverage Limits

Should I Be Concerned about Using Online Legal Forms for My Business?

by Thomas A. Archer

Should I be concerned about using online legal forms for my business?

When they need legal documents, some business owners opt to employ “online” forms, versions of documents used previously, or borrowed from other companies. It’s understandable that businesses might view this practice as a harmless way to minimize costs.

The trouble with using generic forms is that, when put to the test, the user often discovers that there are unforeseen liabilities. States have different laws and requirements that call for specific documents or language in order to comply with those laws. Failure to use the correct agreements could be a barrier to obtaining financing. The wrong type of lease can leave a business on the hook for what should otherwise be the responsibilities of another party. Without proper documentation, a transaction or business decision can be rendered completely unenforceable.

The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” applies to legal documents. The cost of dealing with unintended consequences and mistakes in “pre-owned” documents is much higher than employing experienced legal counsel at the outset to ensure that the legal documents are correct for your business.