July 12, 2023

What Are Some Exceptions to Pennsylvania’s Limited Tort Rights?

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. Provide Trusted Legal Advice

With auto insurance, “tort” means that a responsible party can be held liable for injuries and damage they cause. When an at-fault driver or their insurance carrier does not compensate a claimant for damages, tort allows that claimant to sue. There are two kinds of tort used in Pennsylvania: limited and full.

Pennsylvania residents can choose from the two tort options when purchasing insurance. Both allow policy owners to claim economic damages like medical expenses, lost wages, and prescription costs. Full tort coverage costs more money because policy owners have no monetary limits for claiming pain and suffering.

Limited tort coverage costs approximately 15 percent less, also known as the verbal threshold. If a Pennsylvania driver with this coverage gets into a car accident in the state, they usually cannot receive compensation for pain and suffering unless there is an exception. Although every case is different, here are a few that might apply:

  • A commercial vehicle was involved.
  • The injured party was a pedestrian, motorcyclist, or bicyclist.
  • The allegedly at-fault driver was convicted of a DUI.

The limited tort option might not be in effect when an accident is not that serious. Pennsylvania laws dictate how this is handled. The legal definition of serious in Pennsylvania’s limited tort law specifies “a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.” When an accident survivor has less severe injuries like minor burns or a fractured wrist, limited tort coverage usually will not apply.

Pennsylvania residents with limited or full tort coverage encounter different situations when they are injured in accidents in the neighboring state of New Jersey. If their insurance company is licensed to do business in both states and the resident is injured in New Jersey, a verbal threshold automatically goes into effect. This is important to know whether someone is driving their own vehicle or using a rideshare. Even when Pennsylvania residents have paid for the full tort option, they might be unable to sue. Some can recover non-economic damages, but only under specific circumstances:

  • Certain permanent injuries
  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Displaces fractures
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Significant scarring or disfigurement

Injuries must be permanent and severe for an exception to be made. A claimant would need to prove a significant change in daily activities, like needing assistance to eat, get dressed, and so forth. There would also need to be an impaired ability to perform work if the claimant was previously employed, considerable pain, and restricted movement.

Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. Provide Trusted Legal Advice

Pennsylvania automobile insurance laws are complicated. Contact our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at Anthony C. Gagliano III, P.C. to learn more. Complete our online form or call us at 267-861-7100 to schedule a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, we serve clients in Montgomery County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Chester County, and Norristown.