A vehicle owner has many decisions to make when purchasing or renewing automobile insurance. One of these choices is between full tort and limited tort policy coverage. As the name suggests, choosing limited tort puts certain limitations on the type of compensation a person may recover in the event of a vehicle crash.
The law firm of Gay & Chacker has been representing injured drivers and passengers for more than 50 years. Some of those clients had limited tort insurance coverage. Below, we explain limited tort and why it’s sometimes still possible to obtain full compensation if you’ve been hurt in a car crash.
The Basics of Pennsylvania Limited Tort
Regardless of whether you have chosen full tort or limited tort, you can still recover unreimbursed economic losses if you’ve been injured in a vehicle collision that someone else caused. These losses include things like unreimbursed medical care and rehabilitation bills, lost income, and property damage.
Unreimbursed medical expenses might arise from the following:
- Hospital visits, treatments, and surgeries,
- Dental office visits to address crash-related dental injuries,
- Rehabilitation and therapies,
- Medical supplies and equipment, and more.
A victim may recover lost wages if a physician determines that he or she cannot perform his or her occupational responsibilities. Those who are self-employed are entitled to compensation to pay for another person to perform those responsibilities.
Both full tort and limited tort cover vehicle damage. In addition, both types of coverage reimburse for some out-of-pocket costs to fix or replace damaged personal property damaged.
Where full tort and limited tort coverage differ relates to non-economic damages. Limited tort does not allow an injured person to recover for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, or loss of the ability to enjoy life’s pleasures or take on daily tasks as before the crash.
PA Limited Tort Exceptions
Pennsylvania law provides several exceptions that allow injured victims to recover for their full range of damages, even when they have limited tort coverage. In situations that meet one of these exceptions, victims can still obtain compensation for applicable non-economic damages. Exceptions to limited tort include:
Serious injury. First, the limited tort rule does not apply to those who suffer a “serious impairment of body function or permanent disfigurement.”
Injured pedestrians or bicyclists. Pedestrians and bicyclists who suffer injuries in a traffic crash do not have the same recovery limitations, regardless of whether they have limited tort on their insurance policy.
Intention to harm others. If the at-fault driver meant to harm himself/herself or others, the injured victim is not subject to the limited tort rule.
Vehicles registered outside Pennsylvania: When the at-fault driver is registered in another state besides PA, the victim may receive full tort rights.
Non-private vehicles. Limited tort does not apply to those who sustain injuries as a driver or passenger of a non-private passenger vehicle, such as a bus. Since private passenger vehicles are defined as having four wheels, motorcycle riders and passengers also fall under this exception to limited tort.
Drunk drivers. Injured victims have full tort rights in crashes involving a driver under the influence who receives an Alternative Rehabilitation Disposition.
Defective vehicles. Limited tort does not apply when the crash and injuries stem from a defect involving the vehicle’s design, manufacturing, maintenance, or repair.
Contact Gay & Chacker for advice if you were injured in a crash and have limited tort coverage. Our lawyers have handled thousands of auto accident claims for people who were injured when someone else was at fault. Call our firm at (215) 567-7955 for a free, no-obligation discussion about your legal rights and obtaining compensation.
Frequently Asked Questions About Limited Tort
Below are answers to a few common questions about limited tort coverage in Pennsylvania and recovering compensation after a crash.
What is full tort automobile insurance coverage?
Full tort coverage is more expensive than limited tort, but it provides the legal right to obtain a financial recovery for both economic and non-economic damages related to the crash injuries. Economic damages include things like medical bills and lost income. Non-economic damages include things like pain and suffering and loss of consortium (if the person is married). In contrast, limited tort allows an injured person to recover economic damages but not non-economic damages. While insurance companies will still typically try to minimize the payout you receive for your injury claim, full tort coverage removes some of the hurdles to obtaining every dollar you are entitled to.
What is pain and suffering?
Pain and suffering is one type of several non-economic damages. It refers to the physical and emotional pain and discomfort the victim suffers now and will suffer in the future. Unless an exception is applicable, a victim with limited tort insurance coverage may not seek compensation from the insurance company for pain and suffering.
What is loss of consortium?
Loss of consortium is one type of non-economic damages. It affects victims who are married. Also called loss of affection or loss of companionship, this term refers to the loss of benefits of marriage due to the injuries. Unless an exception is applicable, a victim with limited tort insurance coverage may not seek compensation from the insurance company for loss of consortium.
Can I still file a claim to seek compensation from my insurance company if I have limited tort coverage on my insurance policy?
Choosing limited tort may seem like you are unable to recover reimbursement for costs related to the crash. However, you may still obtain compensation for your economic expenses like medical bills, rehab, and lost wages. Even non-economic damages, like pain and suffering, are recoverable if your situation meets one of the exceptions we’ve named above. For example, you may receive full reimbursement if your injuries are considered a “serious impairment of body function or permanent disfigurement.” The best thing to do is to speak with an experienced attorney about your situation. Our firm offers free consultations to help victims determine whether an exception may allow them to file a claim for full recovery.
Dealing with the Insurance Company
Many insurance adjusters will make crash victims think that because they have limited tort coverage, that they cannot recover for pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and more. Giving this impression helps the insurer reduce their payouts, which means less money for deserving victims and more for them.
However, if an exception applies to you, then you should recover for the full range of damages. An experienced attorney can help you avoid waiving your right to receive non-economic damages by saying or signing something that could be used against you. In general, insurance companies tend to pay far more to claimants who have attorney representation. And if you’re recovering from auto accident injuries, the last thing you want to do is fight with the insurance company. That’s where we come in.
At Gay & Chacker, our attorneys are committed to obtaining maximum compensation for our clients. If they have limited tort insurance coverage but an exception applies to their case, we fight for full tort reimbursement. If you were injured in a crash and have limited tort coverage, call our firm at (215) 567-7955 for a free, no-obligation consultation. We will discuss your legal rights and how to obtain the most compensation possible.