Pennsylvania drivers, when presented with car insurance coverage choices, are given the “Limited Tort Option” – at a discount of some 15% to 20% on annual premiums. While such savings may be appealing at first glance, such a decision can have far reaching adverse consequences – and our firm strongly recommends that our clients select the “Full Tort Option” whenever possible. Not coincidentally, the word “Limited” has been defined as “restricted in size, amount, or extent” -- and various synonyms have been offered, such as “restricted, finite, little, slight.” All of these appropriately describe the impact on your potential recovery of selecting the “Limited Tort Option” . . . should you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having been injured in a motor vehicle collision which is not your fault. As a general rule, choosing Limited Tort restricts your right to make a claim for non-economic harms and losses which arise from personal injuries sustained as a result of a car collision – damages most often referred to as “pain and suffering.” Regrettably, too many fail to appreciate what they have given up in this regard until it’s too late. Even one lost opportunity to be fully compensated for all harms and losses will normally far outweigh any short-term savings by choosing the Limited Tort Option. Therefore, we highly recommend Full Tort coverage to “fully” protect you and your loved ones. Even if you have selected the Limited Tort Option, though, all is not necessarily lost. Although many insurance companies will attempt to convince persons who have made such an election -- and who then suffer physical injuries in a motor vehicle collision -- that they are not entitled to any compensation for their pain and suffering, there are exceptions to the general rule precluding such recovery. Therefore, it is very important that you seek counsel before agreeing to be bound by any “limited” recovery. What exceptions might apply? A few, have nothing to do with the nature and extent of physical injuries which were caused by the collision, include the following . . .
- The driver at fault is determined to have been driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance
- The driver at fault is driving a car registered in another state
- The driver at fault has not maintained proper car insurance
- The injured party is the occupant of a motor vehicle other than a private motor vehicle
- a) What body function, if any, was impaired because of injuries sustained in a motor vehicle accident?
- b) Was the impairment of the body function serious? The focus of these inquiries is not on the injuries themselves, but on how the injuries affected a particular body function. Generally, medical testimony will be needed to establish the existence, extent, and permanency of the impairment . . . In determining whether the impairment was serious, several factors should be considered: the extent of the impairment, the length of time the impairment lasted, the treatment required to correct the impairment, and any other relevant factors. An impairment need not be permanent to be serious.