When selling automobile insurance, insurers in Pennsylvania offer various discounts to their customers. One of the most common discounts offered is the “limited tort” discount. In order to obtain this discount, insureds elect the “limited tort” option and are required to complete an election form. This election provides a discount on insurance premiums, but the discount comes with a price. In exchange for the discount, electing the “limited tort” option restricts an injured party’s right to recover for non-economic damages, i.e. pain and suffering, except in limited circumstances, when injured as a result of the negligence of another driver. This election is contrary to the “full tort” option, which provides injured persons an unrestricted right to recover damages in the event of an accident caused by another’s negligence.
When covered by a limited tort policy of insurance, an injured party can recover non-economic damages if (1) the responsible party is driving an uninsured vehicle; (2) the responsible party is guilty of DUI or accepted into the ARD program; (3) the responsible party is driving a vehicle registered in a state other than Pennsylvania; (4) the injured party is occupying a commercial vehicle at the time of the accident; or (5) the injured party sustains a serious injury, defined as death, disfigurement, or serious impairment of a bodily function. In most automobile accident cases, non-economic damages make up the majority, if not the entirety of recoverable damages. A limited tort election provides a responsible defendant’s insurance company with a basis to deny an otherwise valid claim, even when liability is clear. Often, due to the potential for no recovery in a limited tort case, insurance companies will seek to settle limited tort cases at a discount, or will make no offer to settle whatsoever. This is especially true when the injuries sustained are soft tissue in nature, or the medical treatment provided is conservative care, such as physical therapy or chiropractic treatment.
Although the discount offered by electing the limited tort option may be enticing, in the event of an accident that results in injury, the discount truly is not worth it. Giving up your right to make a complete recovery for any injuries sustained in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence in a car accident can be a costly decision.
If you have been injured in a motor vehicle accident, call ACA Law at 570-348-0200 to speak to an experienced trial attorney. We will provide an honest assessment of your case and work hard to obtain the results you deserve. We fight for what’s right.