In Pennsylvania, you have several options when choosing an insurance plan. Some of those plans are less expensive, but specifically prohibit you from pursuing specific types of damages if you’re hurt in a wreck. That can be a major problem if someone else causes a crash and you end up in a financially precarious situation.
What Limited Tort Covers and Potential Exceptions for Full Tort Coverage
Limited tort coverage under your policy may take care of you after a car accident if your medical bills aren’t particularly high, and if you have no other damages.
Unfortunately, it specifically prevents you from recovering any non-monetary damages, such as pain and suffering or lost quality of life. However, there are several exceptions in Pennsylvania law that allow you to seek full tort coverage. Here are some specific situations that may allow you to seek full tort damages, even if you picked limited tort coverage.
- A vehicle involved in the collision uses out-of-state plates (which may be a factor if you were hit by a cargo truck or tractor-trailer).
- One of your injuries is disfigurement of a substantial nature.
- Drunk driving is the main cause of the accident, and the other driver is convicted of driving under the influence. Simply being visibly drunk at the scene or even charged with a crime isn’t an exception to limited tort.
- Faulty or defective parts caused the accident
- Suffering serious impairment to a bodily function due to the accident.
- The at-fault driver is uninsured, but you have uninsured motorist coverage in your vehicle’s insurance plan.
The Fine Print of Serious Bodily Impairment Exceptions
It’s the “suffering serious impairment to a bodily function” exception that often comes into play when someone is grievously wounded in a wreck caused by negligence. As you might imagine, the exact meaning of that phrase isn’t always clear, and insurance providers often try to argue your injuries don’t rise to that level.
Exactly what constitutes a “serious impairment” to a bodily function varies depending on the type of injury you suffered and how it impacts your life. In general, the more substantial and long-term the injury, the more likely you’ll have a clear exception to limited tort. Injuries that include amputations, obvious physical disfigurement, or permanent disability are more likely to meet that threshold, but those aren’t the only injuries that qualify.
Here’s the bottom line: if the accident caused you physical harm and impacted your ability to earn a living, you need to pursue the maximum compensation possible. That’s why you should retain an experienced car crash attorney to protect your legal rights first.
Your attorney can use medical and employment records to show the extent of your injury and argue your case with the at-fault party’s insurer case or in court. Having someone defend your position helps eliminate the frustration many crash victims often feel when they expect insurance to be on their side only to be denied the financial recovery they deserve. And other than letting your insurer know the crash happened and providing basic details such as date and time, it’s critical that your legal representative handles all other communication. That way, there’s no opportunity for the adjuster to try to trip you up and get you to say things that can reduce your compensation.
Cases involving exceptions to limited tort are complex and frequently confusing to crash survivors who already have enough to deal with after a wreck. Don’t let this sort of technicality stand in the way of your recovery. Talk to an experienced attorney who has the knowledge to navigate limited tort exceptions for your best shot at the fair and full compensation you deserve.