Pennsylvania law requires every driver to have insurance for their vehicles. However, unlike many other states, Pennsylvania allows drivers to select between full tort insurance and limited tort insurance. The differences between these types of insurance can have a substantial effect on your ability to collect compensation if you were injured in a car accident. If you have limited tort insurance and have been hurt in a car crash, contact our office to get in touch with an experienced Philadelphia limited tort attorney right away to begin the process of filing your claim with your insurance company.
First, it is important for you to know whether your vehicle insurance policy provides for full tort coverage or for limited tort coverage. Many people who choose limited tort coverage do so because it often costs less in monthly premiums than full tort coverage does, but they may not understand what it means for them if they get hurt in a car accident. They also may not think that they will ever be involved in a car accident, and may find themselves surprised by their limited coverage if they are hurt in a car crash. Take a look at your policy right away so that if you do find yourself in a car accident, you will know how much coverage you have. Our attorneys can also help you read through your policy if you are not sure.
Second, you should understand what the difference is between full tort coverage and limited tort coverage. Under full tort coverage, someone who is hurt in a car accident has an unlimited right to recover financially from the person who caused the accident and the injuries. This means that the accident victim and his or her family can sue to recover for their medical bills, property damage, wages lost due to the injury, and other expenses that are out of pocket. In addition, the victim can sue for damages that are called non-monetary damages because they are not tied to specific bills or money spent out of pocket, such as damages for pain and suffering.
By contrast, under limited tort coverage, there are restrictions on the types of damages you (or anyone else covered under the policy) can recover against the person who caused the accident. These restrictions include damages for your pain and suffering and damages for loss of consortium (or loss of a familial relationship), unless your injuries meet certain exceptions defined under the law.
Such exceptions to limited tort coverage allow the accident victim to recover as if they had full tort coverage. These exceptions are triggered if the person who causes the accident:
- Was convicted of driving under the influence at the time of the accident;
- Was operating a motor vehicle registered in another state;
- Intended to injure himself or another person; or
- Was not adequately covered by car insurance as required under Pennsylvania law.
Other exceptions occur when the person who has limited tort coverage was injured as a passenger on a non-private vehicle like a bus or a taxi or when the victim was injured in an accident caused by a malfunctioning or defective vehicle. Finally, an exception is available if the victim suffered a serious injury, meaning one that causes permanent disfigurement, impairment of a bodily function, or a fatality.
Because you can still recover for out of pocket expenses like medical bills and property damage under limited tort coverage, it may not seem necessary to have full tort coverage so that you have the ability to recover for pain and suffering. However, if you have been injured in a car accident, you will likely find yourself in need of additional financial compensation beyond that received to cover your medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. Being the victim of a car accident can be a trying time, both physically and financially, and having limited tort coverage effectively bars your ability to pursue additional compensation if you have been hurt by a negligent or reckless driver. You will likely find yourself wishing you had the ability to pursue other damages against the person who caused your accident, especially when the effects of the accident last long after the accident.
If you elected to have limited tort coverage and have been injured in an accident, you are not completely out of options. The first thing you should do is to get in contact with a Philadelphia limited tort lawyer as soon as possible after your accident to begin working on your case. Your attorney will be there to help you file a claim with your insurance company and to make sure that your insurance company does not try to give you less compensation than you deserve.
An important way that your lawyer can assist you if you have limited tort coverage is to help you determine if one of the exceptions to limited tort coverage applies in your case. Your lawyer can help investigate whether the driver was trying to hurt himself or others on the road, whether the vehicle or vehicles involved were defective, or whether your injury can be legally classified as serious. In order to perform these investigations, however, you will need to have evidence of the accident and of your injuries. Consequently, be sure to take photos of the accident (or have someone else do so if you are hurt), ?gather personal information and insurance information from the other driver, and keep track of all of your medical records and bills. These will prove useful as you and your lawyer work together on your case.
Because our attorneys have years of experience practicing in Pennsylvania, we are familiar with the ins and outs of limited tort cases. We will provide you with a free consultation after your accident and will work closely with you to ensure that you receive the best representation available. If you have limited tort coverage and were injured in a car accident, be sure to contact our offices as soon as possible.