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Can You Still Sue If You Have Limited-Tort Coverage?

Written by: Hagelgans and Veronis

In 1990, Pennsylvania lawmakers enacted a two tort system in an effort to reduce auto insurance premiums.  All drivers in Pennsylvania are given the choice of selecting either limited tort or full tort insurance on their private passenger motor vehicle insurance.

An individual who chooses the limited tort option pays slightly less for car insurance.  However, by choosing limited tort rather than full tort, a motorist may give up significant legal rights including the right to recover noneconomic damages for pain and suffering, inconvenience and in some cases even injuries involving scarring.

The attorneys at Hagelgans and Veronis highly recommend that you always chose full tort insurance so you can recover fair compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident and the manner in which they have affected you and your family.

A person who elects limited tort coverage also limits the rights of his family if they are covered under the same policy and reside with him.

If a person selects the limited tort insurance, he can only recover noneconomic damages for pain and suffering if that person sustains a serious injury.

Under Pennsylvania law, a serious injury is defined as a personal injury resulting in death, a serious impairment of a body function or permanent serious disfigurement.

By selecting the better full tort insurance, a person can recover noneconomic damages for pain and suffering, whether the injury is serious or minor.   Both limited tort insurance and full tort insurance entitle a person to recover his economic losses (lost wages or unpaid medical bills) regardless of the degree of injury.

Exceptions for Limited Tort Victims

According to Pennsylvania law, serious injury is defined as a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.

This definition is broad, so depending on the injuries, a thorough presentation of the condition may be required. A skilled car accident attorney can help make the case by consulting medical experts and other professionals.

Catastrophic injuries that commonly meet the serious injury threshold include:

This is not to say that other injuries such as bone fractures, burns, and concussions won’t be considered, but you will need an experienced injury lawyer to develop your case.

Limited Tort Exceptions

In addition to serious injury, there are six exceptions that allow limited tort drivers to collect noneconomic damages for pain and suffering as if that person had elected full tort.  They include:

  • The at-fault driver is convicted for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • The at-fault driver was driving a vehicle registered in another state
  • The at-fault-driver intended to hurt himself (or others)
  • The injured person was a pedestrian
  • Injuries are the result of a defect in the design, manufacturing, repair or maintenance of a vehicle
  • The person covered by limited tort insurance is injured while a passenger in a vehicle other than a private passenger vehicle (e.g., public bus, commercial truck, shuttle, etc.)

Contact an experienced Pennsylvania car accident attorney at Hagelgans & Veronis for complete details regarding these exceptions. All of our attorneys have over 25 years of experience in personal injury law.

You will receive a free consultation from one of our knowledgeable lawyers and your cases will be handled by an experienced lawyer, not passed on to a paralegal or secretary.

Want more insight into Pennsylvania’s complex injury laws? Follow Hagelgans & Veronis on Twitter, or ‘like’ us on Facebook.

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