Superior Court Analysis of Limited Tort
In a recent appeal taken to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania, the Court affirmed a verdict in favor of the plaintiff who was trying to establish the serious bodily injury standard in a limited tort case. In order to recover non-economic damages for all of the pain and suffering caused by the accident, the Plaintiff, having elected limited tort must prove that he suffered a “serious bodily injury”. The Plaintiff in this particular case suffered from post posttraumatic disc herniation, cervicalgia, thoracic pain, low back pain from disc herniation and myalgia as a result of a motor vehicle accident. The plaintiff contended that an inability to play with plaintiff's child as plaintiff did before the accident shows a loss of ability sufficient to pass the threshold for limited tort. The defendant's insurance company refused to pay the claim and asserted that the significant injuries suffered by the plaintiff did not meet the “serious bodily injury” threshold. In this case it appears the only treating physician was a chiropractor.
Because the insurance company refused to accept that the plaintiff's injuries met the limited tort threshold, the Plaintiff was required to take the insurance company to court. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury found that the plaintiff met the threshold for serious bodily injury and awarded damages for the plaintiff's pain and suffering
If you have limited tort motor vehicle insurance, you are required to show a serious impairment of bodily function in order to be able to recover non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are what are commonly referred to as pain, suffering, inconvenience, etc. Limited tort insurance is often offered by the insurance companies because they know that if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident you will not recover these damages unless you can prove you are seriously injured. If you have full tort coverage than you do not need to meet this threshold in order to recover non-economic damages.
The real crime with limited tort insurance is that the insured is not saving you a significant amount of money between limited tort versus full tort insurance premiums. And, that little bit of savings will come back to haunt you if you are involved in an accident and you have to give up your right to recover for your injuries unless you can show you were seriously injured.
Bottom line: If you have elected to have a “limited tort” automobile insurance policy, change it to “full tort.” Double check your policy now to be sure that you have not given up your rights.