Many drivers in Pennsylvania have limited tort policies, most often because it costs less than having full tort. Does that mean you cannot recover if you have a limited tort policy and were involved in a car accident? No, you can recover, but there are some hurdles that are now in the way. However, a lot of Pennsylvania and Philadelphia car accident lawyers will not take limited tort cases; usually because of the challenges limited tort cases present. The personal injury lawyers at KaplunMarx, PLLC understand the 5 keys to winning limited tort cases in PA and will always discuss your options if your are injured in an auto accident, regardless of where you are limited tort or full tort.
Tips for Winning Limited Tort Cases
Tip #1 – Understand the Limited Tort Threshold
With a limited tort policy, if you are involved in an accident, you can seek recovery for all medical and other out-of-pocket expenses, but not for pain and suffering, unless the injuries suffered fall within one of the exceptions to the limited tort status – which are as follows:
- The driver who caused the accident was driving a vehicle registered in a different state (i.e. NJ),
- The driver who caused the accident is convicted of DUI,
- You were a pedestrian when hurt,
- You were a passenger on a bus, taxi, truck, tractor trailer or other commercial vehicle when hurt,
- You were on a motorcycle when hurt,
- Your injuries have resulted in a “serious impairment to a significant bodily function”.
Tip #2 – What does “serious impairment to a significant bodily function” mean?
That is a great question, the serious injury exception is, often times, the most difficult to prove – it is left undefined by the Courts and is not automatic like the other limited tort exceptions. This question is very fact specific, each persons body, mind and situation is different. Generally, we always recommend following your doctors recommended treatment plan and be diligent in doing so. Remember, an insurance company is looking for a reason not to pay your claims – if you do not follow your treatment plan, your handing one to them.
Tip #3 – Find a Limited Tort Lawyer that Will File a Law Suit
In most Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers cases, once treatment is complete, the lawyer will put together what is called a ‘demand packet’. The demand packet will contain a description of the accident, all of the treatment records, and a demand for compensation. In limited tort cases, these demand packets, 99% of the time the claim will be denied because the insurance company will claim that the injured party did not breach the ‘serious injury exception’. We have seen our share of these denials from insurance companies because they hate paying on limited tort cases (regardless of the severity of the injury). So we take a different tactic, we file suit on behalf of the majority of our limited tort clients – this puts a clock on the insurance company and they will take the claim a lot more seriously once it goes in suit.
Tip #4 – Be on the Offensive, or File the Law Suit as a “Major”
In Pennsylvania, there is an arbitration track for cases valued under $50,000.00, or cases valued over $50,000.00 can be filed as ‘Major’s’. Our strategy is to file many, if not all, of our limited tort cases as ‘Majors’; this puts our clients on the offensive and shows the insurance company that we are serious about the claim. The insurance company understands that a case filed as a major offers a lot more exposure for loss than an arbitration case – and will conduct themselves accordingly.
Tip #5 – Your Lawyer Has to Ready to Take Your Limited Tort Case to Trial
Limited tort cases should not be taken by a lawyer if they are not ready to try the case. Settlement in limited tort cases happens rarely, but if they do settle, it is usually on the eave of trial. Our lawyers prepare every limited tort case as a case that will be litigated to completion – this puts our clients in the best position to get compensated for their injuries, one way or the other.
Many lawyers won’t represent limited tort clients, other lawyers will represent them, but don’t do it correctly -we do. Remember, the lawyers at KaplunMarx, PLLC will always evaluate your case for free – no matter, limited tort or full tort!
To better understand the difference between limited tort and full tort insurance check out our article: Limited Tort vs Full Tort? A Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyer Examines