Pennsylvania Automobile Insurance

In our capacity as personal injury litigators, we are asked from time to time to explain certain options that appear on Pennsylvania automobile insurance policies. This would include terms such as Limited Tort, Full Tort, Uninsured Motorist Coverage, Underinsured Motorist Coverage and Stacking.

In general terms, if you have selected the Limited Tort Option, you cannot sue the other driver for pain and suffering, unless you suffer a serious injury. Serious injury has been defined as a serious impairment of a body function. You can always bring a legal action to recover for out of pocket expenses such as wage loss or property damage.

As you know, we do not advocate legal action where the injury is minimal and the return to good health is quick. However, we have always stressed that by selecting the “Full Tort” option, you can decide whether your injuries are serious enough to warrant recovering for your pain and suffering. Some court decisions have reinforced our opinions on this topic. For instance, in a reported case, a person who selected “Limited Tort” was deemed not to have suffered a serious injury even though that individual had suffered knee and neck injuries in an auto accident which required arthroscopic surgery on the knee one year after the accident, caused the individual to miss a total of six months of work, and caused the injured party to give up his weekend job of hanging wallpaper. This individual was not permitted to sue to recover for his injuries, because he selected Limited Tort on his policy and his injuries were determined by the Court not to be serious.

There are certain situations that may provide you with an exception to your Limited Tort selection. We would be happy to discuss these with you.

Also, you should keep in mind that the “Limited Tort” selection by one spouse is considered a selection of Limited Tort, not only for their spouse, but also, for their children residing in that household. Although the insurance cost for the Full Tort option is higher, we recommend that you discuss with your auto insurance agent just how much the Full Tort selection would cost.

Other ways to improve your auto insurance policy should be discussed with your agent as well. This should include: retaining Uninsured Motorist Coverage to protect you and your family if a person without insurance is the cause of injury; retaining Underinsured Motorist Coverage to protect you and your family if the party responsible for the accident has minimal insurance coverage; retaining Stacking so you can combine your Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist coverages for more coverage if you have more than one vehicle; and making sure that your Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage is in the same amounts as your liability coverage.

If you would like to discuss your specific automobile policy, or if a friend has questions, you may fax or mail us a copy of the automobile premium page, and provide us with phone numbers where you can be reached during the day and at night.