Drunk Driver In a Limited Tort Case

Date: January 26, 2011
Posted In: DLP Law

Jen and Tom were headed out of Waymart on Route 6 towards the Casey Highway. Tom was driving and the weather conditions were ideal. As Tom approached the entrance to the Casey Highway, he was suddenly struck broadside by Ernie who had been traveling up old Route 6 from Carbondale. Ernie was unfamiliar with the intersection and did not notice the stop sign. One of the things that reduced Ernie\’s awareness was the fact that Ernie had been drinking most of the afternoon. It would later be revealed that Ernie was intoxicated and his blood alcohol level was over three times the legal limit.

ISSUE: Jen and Tom sustained moderate injuries but nothing significant enough that would ordinarily get them over the limited tort threshold which would allow them to bring suit to recover for their damages.

ANSWER: The couple made inquiry with an attorney and were correctly advised that because of the fact that Ernie was intoxicated, that the limited tort restriction no longer applied and both Jen and Tom would be allowed to proceed and make a claim against Ernie\’s insurance company.

While the limited tort option does disallow law suits in many cases, unless there is serious bodily injury or impairment, there are exceptions. One is if the individual that caused the accident is intoxicated. Another would be if the negligent driver was licensed out of state or if the individual that is injured is a pedestrian.

Disclaimer: The above article is for instructive purposes only and each case is fact sensitive. Consultation with an attorney should be obtained instead of reliance upon the legal issues discussed in this column.

Tom Cummings
Thomas P. Cummings has been a Partner with Dougherty Leventhal & Price, LLP since 1996 and has been with the firm since 1991. He focuses his practice on workers’ compensation, Social Security Disability and personal injury cases.