October 29, 2016

By: Peter M. Hileman, Esq.

We strongly recommend that all Pennsylvania drivers elect full tortcoverage on their automobile insurance policy, and not the alternative — limited tort. What is limited tort coverage? If you elect limited tort, and are then hurt in a car accident that is the other driver’s fault, you will not be able to recover damages for bodily injury unless you sustain a serious injury.

Unfortunately, based on our 19 years of experience trying limited tort cases since Pennsylvania passed its limited tort law, we know that most insurance companies and juries are very reluctant to consider almost any injury to be serious. Judges and juries in Pennsylvania have found injuries such as a fractured skull, multiple fractures of the foot and herniated disks not to be serious. The bottom line is, if you are injured in a car accident, but don’t have serious injuries, you will be told that you don’t have a case, even if the other driver was solely at fault. Many lawyers won’t even take limited tort cases.

But at Drake, Hileman & Davis, we do take limited tort cases. If another lawyer has told you that you don’t have case because you have limited tort, give us a call for a second opinion. Many of our largest recoveries have been for limited tort clients. How do we do it?

First, we look for exceptions to the limited tort rule. Limited tort does not apply if any of the following apply to the accident you were involved in:

  1. You were a pedestrian or on a bicycle.
  2. You were in a commercial vehicle, such as a rental car or bus.
  3. The other driver was insured in another state.
  4. The other driver was intoxicated.

Second, we recover economic losses. Even if you have limited tort, you can recover any unpaid medical bills, wage loss, property damage, rental car expenses and other financial losses.

Third, we carefully review your insurance file. We make sure you signed all of the proper waivers and election forms. If you did not, you may not have limited tort after all.

Fourth, we help you demonstrate how serious your injury really is. We compile evidence that proves that your injury has had a serious negative impact on your life, your work and your ability to engage in your usual activities, for a substantial period of time. This requires medical corroboration. We will work with your doctors to obtain reports that detail the severity of your condition.

We believe strongly that electing limited tort is one of the worst decisions you could make for you and your family. You may not realize that if you elected limited tort on you insurance policy, you limited not only your own rights of recovery, but also the rights of anyone else living in your home and covered by your policy, including your spouse, your minor children and other relatives. Even if you elected limited tort many years ago, your limited tort coverage continues year to year indefinitely on all renewal policies unless and until you sign a paper electing full tort.

We urge you to act immediately. You should find your auto insurance policy and review it right away. Call or contact us today. We will help you evaluate whether you have limited or full tort, and if you need to make changes to your policy. You never know when you might be the victim of an accident.