Pennsylvania restricts the types of damages car accident victims can collect depending on what type of insurance they carry. The importance of having full tort auto insurance vs limited tort is that full tort allows you to pursue both economic and noneconomic damages for any accident, whereas limited tort may only allow you to pursue economic damages.
Limited tort is the cheaper option when it comes to monthly payments but may only allow accident victims to recover their medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses. Unless their injuries pass a severity threshold or special circumstances are in place, the law may bar victims with limited tort auto insurance from collecting compensation for their noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering.
A similar distinction exists in New Jersey, where auto insurance customers purchasing a Standard Policy have the option to choose between a Limited Right to Sue and an Unlimited Right to Sue.
Understanding Economic and Noneconomic Damages in Full and Limited Tort Auto Insurance
In personal injury law, damages are the ways an accident has impacted the victim’s life. There are two categories of damages—economic and noneconomic.
Economic damages are straightforward expenses that come with a bill or a clear financial value. This can include things like:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Property damages
Noneconomic damages compensate victims financially for harder-to-quantify burdens such as:
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of consortium
- And more
While full tort auto insurance allows accident victims to pursue both economic and noneconomic damages no matter what, limited tort insurance only allows victims to pursue economic damages unless certain circumstances occur.
Accordingly, for accident victims who experience noneconomic damages, the importance of having full tort auto insurance vs limited tort may be significant.
What Circumstances Can Lift the Restrictions on a Limited Tort Policy
Pennsylvania allows people with limited tort insurance to pursue noneconomic damages if they sustain a serious injury. PA Title 75 § 1702 defines serious injury as “a personal injury resulting in death, serious impairment of body function or permanent serious disfigurement.”
Other circumstances that may allow an individual with a limited tort policy to collect noneconomic damages include:
- If the at-fault driver was from out-of-state
- If the driver that caused the accident was convicted of DUI or DWI
- If you were a cyclist or a pedestrian
The rules for lifting recovery restrictions for limited tort policyholders can be confusing, as many come from past rulings in Pennsylvania case law.
Working with a Personal Injury Attorney to Build Your Accident Case
Whether you have full tort or limited tort auto insurance, a personal injury lawyer may be able to help you build a case for compensation following an auto accident.
For individuals with limited tort policies, a lawyer can investigate the severity of your injuries or the other circumstances of your case to see if you qualify to step out of the limited tort damage restrictions.
A lawyer can also:
- Give you legal advice.
- Investigate your accident and gather evidence of liability.
- Design a legal strategy for your case.
- Collect evidence of the value of your economic and noneconomic damages.
- Hire accident reconstruction, medical, and economic experts to testify in your defense.
- Negotiate with the insurance company for a fair settlement offer.
- Bring your case to trial if they are not willing to compensate you fairly.
A lawyer may be able to take over your car accident case from day one.
Time is Limited to Pursue Compensation for Your Personal Injuries
If you are thinking about taking legal action for your personal injuries, keep in mind that each state has a time limit on how long victims have to sue.
In both Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the general statute of limitations on personal injury lawsuits is two years. However, certain circumstances could alter the deadlines in your case and require you to act sooner.
Contact Our Personal Injury Law Firm to Learn More Today
Cordisco & Saile LLC helps car accident victims in Pennsylvania and New Jersey pursue compensation for their damages. Our lawyers understand the complex auto insurance laws of these two states and can help you navigate your case regardless of what type of insurance you carry.
When you work with us, we can keep you informed, answer your questions, and discuss possible outcomes throughout your case so that you can dedicate your time and energy to recovering from your injuries.
Our law office offers representation on a contingency-fee basis, meaning our clients do not need to worry about paying us in advance. Instead, our attorney fees come as a percentage of our client’s settlements or court awards, if and when they win their case.
For a free consultation with a member of our team, call our office today at (215) 642-2335. We will be happy to answer your questions and discuss your legal options as part of this call.