Auto Law Committee At Work
By: Ronald Kovler, Esquire

Just a few years ago, the Auto Law Committee, formally known as the Auto Task Force, was formed consisting of members of PTLA whose practices concentrate in auto law and who are interested in advancing positions on behalf of victims of automobile accidents. The Committee con­sists of active auto law attorneys from the PTLA membership and from the Board of Directors.

One of the most important proj­ects of the Committee has been developing a new piece of proposed auto legislation in response to the continual erosion of rights afforded to auto insurance cus­tomers and to our clientele. Clearly, it comes as no surprise to any of us who represent victims of auto negligence and victims of auto insurance abuse that a change is vital. In that regard, we have been given assurances that a new bill will be shortly intro­duced that will include changing the name of “limited tort” and “full tort” to “limited right to sue” and “full right to sue,” increasing minimum liability coverage to $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident, mandating uninsured motorist and underinsured motorist coverage and providing a “menu” of coverages and prices to auto insurance consumers, thereby eliminating waivers and signed-down forms altogether.

Although the battle to have this legislation enacted will not be easy, we are hopeful and confi­dent that the future state politi­cal landscape will be responsive to the needs and to the rights of our clients.

On another front, PTLA President, Steven Wigrizer, Mitchell Clair and I all recently testified before the City’s Auto Insurance Task Force which is investigating high auto insurance rates in Philadelphia.  It was pointed out that insurance claims costs have been reduced, yet premiums did not follow suit.  Moreover, despite the cry from the insurance industry that increased litigation is a primary reason for the high rates, statis­tics from the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas indicate that the number of motor vehicle acci­dent lawsuits filed in Philadelphia has either been reduced or remained stable for the five years between 1997 and 2001.  Steve Wigrizer also empha­sized that claims practices of some insurance companies have been responsible for much litiga­tion simply because they have taken unreasonable settlement positions.

In the meantime, the Auto Law Committee will continue to meet on a quarterly basis to exchange ideas and to discuss ways to help our practices and to continue our efforts to protect our clients.

Presently, our Committee con­sists of the following members:

Steven Berk, Michael Berish, Frank Canty, Mitchell Clair, John Dodig, Marvin Donsky, Bruce Ginsburg,  Richard  Golomb,  James Hamilton, Bernard Gross, Steven Josel, Margaret Koral, Brad Kane, Marvin Lundy, Christopher Moyer, Arthur Novello, John Rodden, Ronald Rosen, Marc Rosenberg, Brad Rush, Alan Schnoll, David Sternberg, and Nancy Winkler.

We invite and encourage any of you who may be interested to join our Committee simply by calling the PTLA office at (215) 732-2256 to be placed on the Auto Law Committee mailing list.

Editor’s Note: Ron Kovler, found­ing partner of Kovler & Rush, is currently a member of the PTLA Board and is Chair of the Auto Law Committee. He is the past Chair of the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Compulsory Arbitration Committee