When you purchase auto insurance, you must choose between limited tort and full tort in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Many drivers opt for limited tort to shave a few dollars off of their monthly premium which is a mistake. In the event of a car accident, limited tort policy holders are not able to file a lawsuit for recovery for pain and suffering, save a few exceptions. Those who opt for full tort policies will retain all of their rights to sue in the event of an accident.
The good news for pedestrians is that you are not bound by the limited tort restriction if you suffer injuries in an auto accident. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that the limited tort restrictions only apply to drivers of automobiles and occupants, not pedestrians. So even if you or a family member chose limited tort on your auto insurance policy, any time you sustain injuries in pedestrian accidents, you are not subject to limited tort restrictions; you have full tort coverage.
For more information about how insurance works for pedestrian accidents in PA or NJ, or for legal help filing a claim or lawsuit, call Cordisco & Saile LLC today at 215-642-2335 and request a free consult.
What is the difference between limited and full tort?
Full tort coverage means that when you sustain injuries in an accident for which another party was responsible, you have the right to sue him to recover the totality of your losses. So, in serious accidents where your policy does not cover all of your damages, you can opt to file a suit against the at-fault driver to obtain fuller compensation, including pain and suffering damages.
Legislature implemented a limited tort option as a means to cut the cost of insurance down for policy holders in PA and NJ. With a limited tort plan, you can pursue medical and other out-of-pocket expenses in a tort action, but you lose your rights to sue and to recover pain and suffering, unless your injuries meet the state’s definition of “serious injuries.”
Since pain and suffering awards can be two to five times the amount of other compensable damages, not being able to recover them is a huge setback. The only upside to a limited tort policy is a slightly lower premium. We always recommend that driver opt for full tort if at all possible.
What rights do pedestrians have when seeking recovery?
If you were a pedestrian involved in a traffic accident, the law automatically provides you with full tort coverage, regardless of whether your policy is full or limited tort. This means that if you were in a pedestrian accident, you can still file a tort action for pain and suffering damages, even if you did not suffer what the law considers “serious injuries.”
If you are the holder of an insurance policy, then your insurance policy covers you in the event that you are in an auto accident. You can recover medical expenses from your medical benefits coverage, and some policies will also pay for a portion of your lost wages. (Check your policy for detailed information on your coverages.)
If you are a pedestrian, you have a couple of options when you are hurt in an accident:
- you can rely on your own auto coverage if that is sufficient, or
- you can file a claim with an at-fault driver’s insurance company or file a lawsuit to recover medical expenses, out-of-pocket costs, and pain and suffering damages. Of course, filing a claim or suit against another party requires that you establish that the other driver was at fault for the accident, and is therefore liable for your damages.
How do I prove liability in a pedestrian accident?
The full tort option for pedestrians does not mean that you are automatically granted benefits. It only means that there are no restrictions when filing your claim; you still must have sufficient grounds for recovering damages. The other party’s liability insurance can pay for your pain and suffering, medical expenses, and other costs if that party is actually at fault and liable for the accident.
How do you prove fault? You must collect and present evidence like the following to establish liability for the accident and your resultant injuries.
- Video surveillance
- Police reports
- Eyewitness testimonies
- Input from field experts like an accident reconstructionist
For instance, if you were crossing the street in a crosswalk and you had the right-of-way, but a driver failed to yield to you, you may present eyewitness testimonies stating what happened. Video surveillance from a nearby store or traffic light may have also captured the accident.
If an investigation finds you partly to blame for the accident (e.g., you were texting while walking and you stepped out into traffic), you may still be able to file a claim or suit against the driver. You can still recover so long as an investigation finds you to be 50 percent or less at fault, but your degree of fault will reduce your settlement. In other words, if your damages totaled $100,000 and you are 50 percent at fault, you are only entitled to recover $50,000.
Work with a pedestrian accident lawyer from Cordisco & Saile LLC to gather the right evidence and go over your options for recovering compensation. An attorney will be necessary if the at-fault insurer refuses to offer you a fair settlement or denies your claim.
Where can I get legal help with my pedestrian accident case?
Our firm, Cordisco & Saile LLC, handles all types of pedestrian accidents in PA and NJ. We can explain your rights, collect the evidence you need, and help you maximize your chances of a fuller recovery. Contact us today at 215-642-2335 and request a free consultation to get started.
In the meantime, you can also download a FREE copy of our eBook, Don’t Crash Again, our guide that can help you maximize your recovery. In it, we explain what to do and more importantly what not to do after an accident. Now is the time to take action before valuable information and evidence is lost.