When you buy car insurance in Pennsylvania, you can choose either the “full tort” or the “limited tort option.” It is important to understand how this choice affects not just the cost of your insurance but also your legal rights. Limited tort insurance is cheaper because you give up important legal rights when selecting it.
Choosing the limited tort option can seriously limit your ability to recover in a car collision, even when you are not at fault. When you choose full tort insurance you keep all the legal rights the law provides. Full tort costs more but allows you to recover for all the damages you suffer when you are the victim of a bad driver.
If you select the limited tort option and you are injured in a car accident, your right to recover from the other driver is seriously limited. A limited tort victim cannot recover damages for pain and suffering caused by the negligent driver unless certain limited exceptions apply. Limited tort victims can only recover for lost wages and unpaid medical bills.
There are some situations in which a limited tort victim can recover for pain and suffering. These exceptions include:
- when the victim suffers “serious injury;”
- when the person who is at fault is convicted or accepts ARD for driving while intoxicated;
- when the person who is at fault is operating a motor vehicle that is registered in another state;
- when the person who is at fault intends to injure himself or another person;
- when the person who is at fault is not insured as required by law; and
- when the victim is injured while riding in a vehicle that is not a “private passenger motor vehicle” (including a motorcycle, bus, taxi, or sometimes an employer’s vehicle.)
The “serious injury” exception must be very serious before you will have the right to recover for your pain and suffering. Many victims of bad drivers are surprised to learn that, despite their severe pain, their recovery is still limited because their injury is not serious enough to qualify.
If you have been hurt in a car collision, the attorneys at Warren McGraw & Knowles can review your insurance policies, advise you of your rights and fight to get the compensation you deserve.
Timothy Knowles is a personal injury attorney in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania who practices in Philadelphia and the surrounding counties. You can reach him at [email protected] or 610-584-9400.