No. 28 W.D. Appeal Dkt. 1982, Appeal From the Order of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania Entered October 30, 1981, No. 1097 Pittsburgh 1980
Richard Rosenzweig, Rosenzweig, Rosenzweig & Burton, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
John C. Carlin, Jr., Pittsburgh, for appellee.
O'Brien, C.j., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott and Hutchinson, JJ. Larsen, J., files a dissenting opinion.
In this case the Superior Court held appellant's claim for "post-mortem" work loss benefits was barred by the two year statute of limitations in Section 106(c)(1) of the No-fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act, Act of July 19, 1974, P.L. 489, No. 176 §§ 101-701, 40 P.S. §§ 1009.101-1009.701 (Supp. 1982). We granted review to consider the applicability of the limitations provisions of Sections 106(c)(1) and 106(c)(2) of the Act to the various types of no-fault benefits the legislature has provided in partial replacement of traditional tort damages for personal injury arising out of the operation of automobiles. Upon such review we have concluded that the legislature has provided comprehensive statutes of limitations in Sections 106(c)(1) and 106(c)(2), covering all no-fault benefits by drafting these sections on analogy to the statutes of limitations on traditional tort actions for personal injuries under our law, including survival actions and actions for wrongful death. Since appellant's claim for "post-mortem" work loss benefits is barred by Section 106(c)(1) of the Act, we affirm the Superior Court.
William Sachritz died on September 5, 1976, from injuries received in an automobile accident on August 16, 1976. His administratrix (Appellant) filed a claim under the provisions
of the No-fault Insurance Act with Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Company for no-fault benefits totaling $7,157.86, made up of a funeral expense allowance ($1,500.00), survivor's benefit ($5,000.00), work loss benefit ($553.86), and medical bills ($104.00). She received a payment for the full claim of seven thousand one hundred fifty-seven dollars and eighty-six cents ($7,157.86) on February 28, 1977. On April 12, 1979, the Superior Court filed its opinion in Heffner v. Allstate Insurance Company, 265 Pa. Superior Ct. 181, 401 A.2d 1160 (1979) and decedent's administratrix promptly filed a second claim for the "post-mortem" work loss benefits approved in Heffner. The payment of this second claim was refused by the insurance company and the present action was then filed on July 23, 1979.
The claim here is for the difference between the amount of work loss benefits claimed and paid on February 28, 1977, and the full amount of "post-mortem" benefits ($15,000.00) allowed to survivors of deceased victims under the judgment awarded by the Superior Court and affirmed by this Court in Allstate Insurance Company v. Heffner, 491 Pa. 447, 421 A.2d 629 (1980). The Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas granted appellee's motion for summary judgment and the Superior Court affirmed*fn1 that order dismissing appellant's claim on the ground that the claim is barred by Section 106(c)(1) of the No-fault Insurance Act.*fn2
In Heffner, we affirmed the Superior Court's holding that work loss benefits did not terminate on death of the injured party, pointing out that their continuation beyond death was analogous to the continuation of tort damages for economic loss to a decedent provided by our survival acts. We noted that "survivor's benefits" were analogous to the tort damages provided by our wrongful death acts for the economic loss suffered by the surviving members of decedent's family specified in those acts, as a result of his death from tortiously inflicted injuries. Id., 491 Pa. at 460, 421 A.2d 629. This analogy is particularly striking in the context of the legislature's provision of the same one year statute which then prevailed for wrongful death in Section ...