Limited Tort Threshold Question

Date: February 9, 2011
Posted In: DLP Law

                   Mike was broadsided by Tom, the result of which Tom suffered a herniated disc in his neck as well as a broken shoulder and several broken ribs. In order to save about $30 at the time that Mike bought his insurance,  he selected the limited tort option. When Mike did bring suit, Tom\’s lawyer stated that Mike did not sustain serious enough injuries to get over the limited tort threshold.

ISSUE:          Is Tom\’s attorney correct?

ANSWER:     No. Our Motor Vehicle Act defines serious injury as “an injury resulting in death, serious impairment to a bodily function, or permanent disfigurement.” Several factors must be considered to determine if the claimed injury is serious: (1) The extent of the impairment; (2)  The length of time the impairment lasted; (3) The treatment required to correct the impairment; and (4) any other relevant factors. Our courts have held that an injury  need not be permanent to be serious. What the court will focus on is not only the injuries but how the injuries affected a particular bodily function.

            As a result of his neck injury, Mike will be prevented from performing some of the functions of his job as a linesman and in all likelihood will need some type of medication for the rest of his life.

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.