Vehicle insurance in Pennsylvania typically comes in two forms: full tort and limited tort. This decision is made when you purchase auto insurance. Among other differences, full tort insurance allows a person injured in a vehicle accident to sue for special and general damages, including pain and suffering. Limited tort insurance limits the ability of persons injured in a car or truck accident to collect pain and suffering damages. Persons selecting Limited Tort may be restricted to recovering economic damages, such as lost wages and unpaid medical bills, but might not be able to recover for pain and suffering.
Are you a limited tort insured person who suffered pain and suffering as the result of a vehicle accident? You may still have an opportunity to be compensated for that pain and suffering, notwithstanding your limited tort insurance.
There are a number of common exceptions to the limited tort regime. These exceptions capture a surprisingly large number of people who have suffered as the result of an accident. Are you one of them?
Many people in Pennsylvania are injured every year while they’re riding in or on a vehicle that is not classified as a “private passenger vehicle.” Typically, private passenger vehicles are cars, vans, SUVs, and pickup trucks used in a private capacity. If, however, you were inside or on any of the following while you were injured, you may be able to sue for pain and suffering:
Additionally, if you have limited tort insurance, but were a pedestrian at the time of the accident, you will not be bound by this election.
If the person who caused the accident that caused your injuries was convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, or that person successfully received an Accredited Rehabilitative Disposition, limited tort insurance will not prevent you from suing for pain and suffering.
If the person who caused your injuries was driving a vehicle that was registered out of state, your limited tort status will not prevent you from seeking damages for pain and suffering.
If the cause of the accident that caused your injuries was a product defect in one or more of the vehicles involved in the crash, limited tort insurance will not preclude an action for pain and suffering. For example, you were struck by a car because its faulty brakes failed, you may be able to sue and collect damages for pain and suffering.
If the person who injured you didn’t have auto insurance at all during the accident, you can sue him or her directly without regard to your limited tort status. Now, you should be aware that you may have difficulty collecting damages from this person if they are judgment proof (broke, in other words).
You shouldn’t assume that, because the other person didn’t have insurance, there’s no way you can collect any money. Whether or not a lawsuit is well-advised is a decision you should make in consultation with a trusted accident lawyer experienced in car, truck, and motorcycle accident cases.
If you suffered a serious bodily injury because of the accident, you may be entitled to make a claim for pain and suffering. “Serious bodily injury” is a term defined in legislation and interpreted in previous cases to mean an injury causing a “substantial impairment of bodily function.”
An example might be an injury that substantially impaired your ability to walk, talk, or breathe. This determination is largely case specific and depends on the nature of the injuries and treatment.
Whether your injury constitutes a serious bodily injury is a question that should only be answered by an experienced accident lawyer working in conjunction with a medical expert. You definitely shouldn’t dismiss your injuries as less than serious without talking to an attorney first.
If you were the victim of a traumatic car, truck, or motorcycle accident and you have limited tort insurance, it’s important that you speak with one of us as soon as possible. Pennsylvania, like other states, has limitation periods and other rules that limit how and when an action may properly be brought before a court. Therefore, it’s important that you act as soon as possible after an accident to ensure your rights are respected and justice is done.
Don’t let limited tort insurance be the end of the story. Call 1-800-HURTLINE today. We’d love to speak with you.
Marcus & Mack