DOES LIMITED TORT ELECTION LIMIT DAMAGES IN TRUCK ACCIDENTS IN PENNSYLVANIA

Date: October 25, 2012
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Pennsylvania motor vehicle insurance laws can be very complicated and their applicability is often challenged in court.  One of the most litigated provisions of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law (75 Pa.C.S.A. 1701 et seq.) involves whether an injured victim is precluded from recovering non-economic (pain and suffering) damages.  Pursuant to 75 Pa.C.S.A. 1705, every motor vehicle insurance policy sold in Pennsylvania requires that the policyholder elect either “limited tort” coverage or “full tort” coverage.  Subject to a few limited exceptions that will not be addressed in this article, if a policyholder elects “limited tort” coverage, he/she waives the right to recover non-economic (pain and suffering) damages in the event he/she is injured in a motor vehicle accident.  As many times a person who is injured in a motor vehicle accident suffers no economic damages, if such person is bound by a “limited tort” election on his/her auto insurance policy, that person will not be able to recover any damages against the negligent driver who caused the accident or the negligent driver’s insurance company.

As mentioned above, there are some exceptions to the law that enable a person who had elected “limited tort” coverage on his/her own auto insuranc policy to collect non-economic (pain and suffering) damages after being injured in a motor vehicle accident due to another driver’s negligence.  Many people mistakenly believe that just because the vehicle that caused the accident is a truck or a tractor trailer they are not bound by a “limited tort” insurance coverage selection.  A person driving an automobile that is injured in an accident caused by the negligence of a truck driver or a tractor trailer driver is bound by whatever tort option he/she selected on his/her insurance policy (unless one of the exceptions specifically set forth in the statute applies).  As we all know, truck and tractor trailer collisions can and often do cause serious injuries to accident victims.  Therefore, everyone in Pennsylvania should protect themselves and their families by selecting and maintaining “full tort” insurance coverage.  The increased insurance premium is not significant and it is certainly money well spent if you or a family member are injured in an accident.

The thirteen attorneys at Dougherty, Leventhal & Price, L.L.P. (DLP) regularly handle auto, bus, motorcycle, truck and tractor-trailer accidents throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.  The Counties DLP covers include: Lackawanna, Luzerne, Pike, Wayne, Bradford, Monroe, Wyoming, Sullivan, Montour, Lycoming, Schuylkill, Carbon, Susquehanna, Columbia and Northampton.  Many of the truck and tractor trailer accidents the DLP handles occur on the major interstates that run through Northeastern Pennsylvania, including, I-81, I-80, I-380, I-84 and the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

If you have been injured in an accident involving an automobile, bus, motorcycle, truck or tractor trailer, or if you have any questions about your auto insurance coverages, call an attorney at DLP for a free consultation.

John Finnerty
Attorney Finnerty has been representing clients in Northeastern Pennsylvania as an Attorney with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP for over 25 years.