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Auto, Truck & Motorcycle Accident

DO YOU KNOW YOUR TORT OPTION?

Auto AccidentIf you are involved in a motor vehicle accident, one of the first things you want to check is with your own insurance policy to check on your tort option. In 1990, the laws were changed under the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Act which introduced two tort options. One tort option is called full tort and the other one is called limited tort. Although you may be able to receive a policy that saves you approximately 10%-12% of your premium, by electing the limited tort option, that is not recommended as you could severely jeopardize your right to recovery in the event you were hurt in an accident.

Normally, in an accident you are able to recover for your damages against the negligent driver. Your damages would include your property damage to your car. Also, you would be able, to be entitled to, the extent that you had the same, work loss as well as payment of medical bills. Those items are usually handled by your own insurance company, depending on the first party benefits that you had purchased. In an accident, you are entitled to recover from the person that caused the accident, the excess of that which your own insurance company did not pay you from your own policy. In addition to your "special" damages, you have pain and suffering damages. However, your right to recover for pain and suffering, sometimes called "non-economic losses" is severely limited in the event that you only have the limited tort option.

You are still allowed to recover for your pain and suffering even if you have a limited tort option in limited situations. You need to discuss this with a lawyer and your insurance agent in the event of an accident. The limited tort option generally applies when you are occupying your privately owned vehicle. There are exceptions even if you are under the limited tort. You can still make a recovery as a full tort injured party, in limited circumstances, for example, if you were hurt by a drunk driver or someone driving a vehicle that is not registered in Pennsylvania. There are other exceptions and you should contact an attorney to see if you qualify.

In a typical case where you are bound by your limited tort election, you cannot recover for your non-economic losses, such as pain and suffering, unless you have what the law deems as a "serious" injury. There have been many cases in what you might consider to be a "serious injury"; the Court would not consider to be a "serious injury". In those situations you would be limited to just recovering your unreimbursed expenses such as property damage, unpaid medical bills and/or lost wages.

You need to check your own automobile policy as there may be other recoveries that you may be entitled to under your own policy. Many people have what is known as uninsured and underinsured motorists' coverage, which is a good thing that protects you in the event that you are hurt by someone without insurance or someone with minimum coverage, such as one with a $15,000.00 policy limit.

You should not give a recorded statement to the insurance company of the driver that caused the accident. The insurance company's business is to try to limit your recovery. They are trained to ask you questions which may not be fair in the sense that you may not know the extent of your injuries until you see the doctor. It is best to decline to speak to the insurance carrier for the person or company causing the accident and it is highly recommended that you contact your own attorney in order to know your rights.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto, truck or motorcycle accident, our firm can assist you in evaluating the case. Give us a call at (412) 429-5144 for a free consultation. Most cases accepted are on a contingency fee basis, so you do not pay unless a recovery is made for you.
Contact our law firm for sound legal advice about
Auto, Truck & Motorcycle Accidents.