When you purchase automobile insurance, you are typically doing it as a preventative measure. Thus, you may lean towards purchasing the cheaper coverage, not thinking that you are going to get into a wreck anytime soon. However, lower costs usually come with lower benefits. And when the unexpected happens, you could be left unable to fully recover.
Understanding the difference between limited tort and full tort in Johnstown car accident cases is essential when filing a personal injury claim. Get in touch with an experienced motor vehicle collision attorney to learn more.
When customers sign up for auto insurance, they have the option to choose either limited tort or full tort coverage. Limited tort is the cheaper option, while full tort tends to be slightly more expensive. Limited tort means an individual can only recover economic damages following a motor vehicle accident, such as lost wages and unpaid medical bills – but may be unable to recover for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering inconvenience and other intangible losses. Full tort allows complete recovery for both economic and noneconomic damages. Thus, with limited tort, while you may pay a lower monthly premium for insurance, you may give up the right to make a claim or file a lawsuit for noneconomic damages, unless one of certain exceptions apply, as described below.
Noneconomic damages are subjective losses that can vary from person to person depending on the circumstances. Types of noneconomic damages commonly include:
When you decide to pay only for limited tort coverage, no may no longer be eligible to seek financial recovery for any of the losses listed above.
There are a few exceptions under Pennsylvania state law where in certain scenarios, even if you only paid for limited tort coverage, you could file a claim to obtain noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering. These include:
According to the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, limited tort provisions only apply to private passenger motor vehicles. Thus, if an individual takes a ride in an Uber or a taxi and is involved in a wreck, his or her limited tort status will not apply.
Likewise, under the same state law, if a person is a passenger on a bus or public transportation system that crashes, then he or she is not bound by the limited tort provision and may seek full recovery for both economic and noneconomic losses through a personal injury claim.
Pedestrians are similarly not bound by a limited tort election because they are not in the vehicle at the time of the collision. Pedestrians are able to pursue claims for pain and suffering, despite electing limited tort.
Another exception to the limited torn provision is if the at-fault driver is convicted of or accepted an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI). If you are hit by another driver who is high or drunk, then you can sue for pain and suffering even if you have a limited tort election on your insurance policy.
The extent of a person’s injuries is another possible exception to a limited tort provision following a car accident. If you suffer a serious injury, which involves a substantial impairment of bodily function, meaning you are unable to continue basic daily activities, then you may be eligible to file a claim for noneconomic damages. Basic daily activities consist of things like:
Thus, individuals involved in severe motor vehicle collisions that suffer catastrophic injuries—such as traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, loss of limb, or other serious injuries—could be able to get out of the limited tort status and obtain full compensation.
For a limited tort customer to be bound by the limited tort election, the insurance company must produce a form that was signed by the First Named Insured on the policy. Failure to provide this form may mean that the limited tort option does not apply.
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and wish to file an injury claim to seek compensation for your losses, one of the most important things to know is whether you have limited tort or full tort coverage.
The well-practiced lawyers at Marcus & Mack understand the state laws and the various exceptions that exist. If retained, they could review the circumstances of your case and work to get you the maximum amount of financial awards through an injury claim. Call now to learn more about limited tort versus full tort policies in Johnstown car accident cases.